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Houston Rockets: Why Westbrook shouldn’t have a bad reputation for stat padding

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during Game Five of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during Game Five of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets’ guard Russell Westbrook has an unfair reputation for chasing stats over wins. However, the numbers don’t support that narrative.

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook has seemed like a lock to average a triple double in each of the last 3 years. In fact, you could argue that because of how easy the Brodie has been able to rack up triple doubles, people are now undermining the triple double milestone. People have started to say, “yeah Westbrook got a triple-double but what about the team?” Or “he got a triple-double but did his team win?”

We only hear this argument when Westbrook gets a triple double, likely because he makes it look so easy. Many people have somehow managed to turn Westbrook’s ability to get triple doubles at ease as proof that he’s a selfish player. Somehow this unprecedented ability has put his team in a bad position? I’ve heard the argument that Westbrook tries to get triple doubles and not wins. This is an incredibly dumb narrative because anyone can go out and say, “I’m going to get a triple double tonight,” but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen.

As for the narrative that the Brodie “chases” triple doubles and not wins, well the data tells a much different story. Over the last 3 seasons, Westbrook has posted 101 triple doubles, of which the Thunder went 77-24. The Thunder had a staggering 76.24 win percentage when Westbrook notched a triple double. Even more impressive is the fact that these were on Thunder teams that were never considered legitimate contenders, so Westbrook arguably carried them to 3 consecutive playoff appearances with his play and his triple doubles.

From the perspective of Rockets fans, based on the win percentage of Westbrook getting a triple double, we should welcome the sight of a triple double as these Rockets are arguably better than the Thunder have been over the last 3 seasons. By the same token however, Westbrook may not even need to get triple doubles in order for the Rockets to win games, which is a positive for him also.

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So I understand the talking heads need a reason to bash a player’s greatness, but in the case of Westbrook we really should embrace and acknowledge the rare feat of averaging a triple double. It’s certainly not a negative thing.

*Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference*

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