Players are fighting against rest days in the NBA, well some are. Some elite guys want to keep playing while others like LeBron James keep finding ways to sit on the bench in street clothes. We get it, you’re resting for the playoffs. But I had no idea the playoffs started in December. While James and Stephen Curry are chilling, warriors like James Harden keep playing as long as their health doesn’t keep them out. Then you have Russell Westbrook.
Then you have Russell Westbrook.
What makes Westbrook case so different from the others is the load that he’s had to carry this season. With LeBron, there’s Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. With Curry, there’s Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant. Hell, even Harden has his fair share of help but Westbrook is a one-man wrecking crew for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There’s no way anyone can take anything away from what Harden has done this season. How can you turn a blind eye to 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists per? Harden has taken his game to another level and the scary thing is, Westbrook is still a level above that. If you were to take Harden off that Rockets team, how many games would they win? If you were to remove Westbrook from OKC, how many would they win?
You can’t answer that truthfully. Which shows just how important both players are to their respective teams. But, where Russ holds the lead is that the pressure of failure was placed upon him the moment Durant signed with the Warriors. No one expected OKC to make the playoffs. It was seen as the MVP chase for Russ was on but what they didn’t expect was for him to be able to put the team on his back, win MVP AND make the playoffs.
And still, he has yet to complain about 4 games in a week or back-to-backs as he and the Thunder fight for a spot amongst the top 8 in the West. This is what great players do. However, when it comes to Westbrook all you hear about is his 1784 shot attempts, while that is plenty, where are talks of him in terms of ranking in other categories?
Westbrook is 8th in Minutes Played, 1st in FGM, 2nd in FT taken and made. To add more gold to his standard is his 9th in rebounding, 3rd in assists, 8th in steals and he plays 35 minutes per. Yes, basketball is a team game but there are times when those ‘IT’ players must take control. Westbrook and Harden have done that and so has Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. Media experts and critics will always point out the negative when they see something that cannot be explained. But, what if this was Curry or LeBron averaging a triple double?
Remember when LeBron was praised for putting the Cavs on his back against the Warriors in 2015 when Irving and Love were out? What makes what Westbrook is doing now any different? Granted, it was during a six-game series but a player doing this for an entire season is not worth praise?
‘He’s selfish”, all he thinks about is stats. I guess those same people have never seen Westbrook play. The intensity that he plays with is second to none. There are no smiles and winks, he has one job to do and that is to do whatever it takes to have his team in the lead with the clock hits 00:00. I had no idea that a person who averages over 10 assists per game could be called selfish. I don’t see him passing the ball to himself but I guess nitpicking is the word of the day.
What it boils down to is this. The Thunder are in the playoffs, and Westbrook has 37 triple-doubles on the season. He has led his team to 6th in a tough West and can make it as high as 4th. Call him what you want but make sure you add MVP at the end of that hate you have.
And someone please get this man a Rest Day. HE has earned it.