Dec. 19, 2016
He's Not Kobe, He's Not Oscar, He's Just Russ
We hear all these analytical terms being thrown around in sports nowadays: DVOA, BABIP, ERA+, WAR, and most prevalently in the NBA, a stat by the name of PER.
Take all those fancy terms that we mortals can’t hope to fathom (or use during water cooler chit chat at work), and thROW THEM OUT THE WINDOW.
For the purposes of this article all that needs to be understood are exactly three acronyms: PPG, APG and RPG. Think ya got that?
Make a list of all-time NBA greats and think about what they have in common. The list probably consisted of some combination of MJ, Larry the Legend, Hakeem, Kareem, Wilt, Duncan, Kobe, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. What do all of those guys have in common? They changed the game. They changed the way we think, watch and play the game. MJ gave us the flash, Larry gave us the fundamentals, Kobe gave us the celebrity, Wilt gave us the ultimate big man game and Oscar gave us the most complete all around season by a player in the history of the game.
It’s been fifty-four years since we’ve seen somebody come close to doing what Oscar Robertson did in 1961-62 and with the insanity 2016 has brought, why wouldn’t we see one more crazy thing.
When his running mate and fellow top 5 player Kevin Durant left this offseason, Russell decided to do what was best for Russell and re-sign in Oklahoma City. Now, instead of sharing the spotlight with an even bigger brand in KD, Russ now just had to get along with Serge Iba… just kidding, Serge got shipped off to Orlando!
So here’s Russell Westbrook, who is annually named the guy that “Takes the Most Forced Jump Shots in the League” and “Should Stop Taking KD’s Shots” FINALLY all by himself with nobody but Billy Donavan to stop him; And if we’re being real, that was never going to happen.
Coming into the season, the Thunder were a team largely looked over by pundits and analysts alike. What were they possibly going to accomplish with a team consisting of Westbrook, Steven Adams and a bunch of other spare parts including an unproven youngster in Victor Oladipo and streaky role player Andre Roberson? After the first quarter of the season, the Thunder have answered that question and then some posting a 15-11 record behind the strength of the star who remained loyal to the city he’s grown with. Through the first twenty-six games of 2016, to say Westbrook has been the center of attention would be an understatement. The more proper analogy to liken his media attention to would be that of the Sun – the all-powerful glue to our solar system that makes our world what it is.
It only seems right that this player, the one that fans have called the villain, the second banana and a shoot first, second and last point guard, would be the same guy that is having the single most impressive statistical season of this century.
To put Westbrook’s 30.5 ppg, 10.6 apg and 10.5 rpg in perspective, ONE – exactly one – other player has ever posted such numbers and his team played infinitely faster than the Thunder and ended up last in the conference. That player was Oscar Robertson, that team was the 1961-62 Cincinnati Blues and those stats were 30.8 ppg, 11.4 apg and 12.5 rpg. Don’t expect these stats to stop either. His 41.6% usage rate is legitimately absurd. The record for an entire season is Kobe’s 38.74% clip in 2005-2006. Even scarier is the fact that Russell’s rate has increased from 39.9% after 16 games to 41.6% after 26 games.
Basically Russ’s game follows pretty simple logic. He’s going to have the ball in his hands. He’s going to make plays. Therefore, if he has the ball, he’s going to make plays. If you’re an opposing defender, I bid you adieu and we’ll see you on his highlight reel after the game.
However, the argument can be made that aside from his otherworldly common stats, if you dig deeper into his advanced analytics such as his Offensive Rating, Effective Field Goal percentage and Turnover percentage that Russ is not a top 20 players.
Hey. Dude. Dude who just wrote that last paragraph. Stop it. Stopitstopitstopit. For the last time: WE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FANCY ANALYTICS. Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the league right now. Who cares about Steph, KD, Boogie, The Brow or James Harden. When you have a stat line that looks like Russ’s, your advanced, derived, poppycock stats can look however they want. Let Russ do Russ.
Here’s one last acronym for you: M.V.P.