OKLAHOMA CITY — With assists on the Thunder’s first three baskets in a little more than a minute Friday against the Detroit Pistons, Russell Westbrook clinched averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive season.
Westbrook kicked ahead to Jerami Grant in transition for a dunk with 10:27 left in the first quarter giving Westbrook 730 assists on the season. Because he’s able to finish the regular season with a maximum of 73 games played, Westbrook can average no fewer than 10 assists.
“Just blessed, brother. I can’t even — I do what I do every single night, regardless of what anybody says, what they call it, what they say,” Westbrook said. “I’m just thankful to all the teammates in this locker room, teammates over the last couple years, they made my job easy. I just try to do what I can to impact the game in every facet. I’ve said that every year, and I stand by it.”
Westbrook finished the night with 19 points, 15 assists and 8 rebounds in the Thunder’s 123-110 win over the Pistons, bringing his season averages to 22.9 points, 10.6 assists and 11.1 rebounds per game.
“He’ll go down as a Hall of Famer, one of the best,” Paul George said. “Nobody I don’t believe will be able to match that or beat that. You’ve got to be wired a certain way on a nightly basis to be able to compete at that level. He’s special.”
In the 2016-17 season, Westbrook became the first player since 1962 — and the second ever — to average a triple-double. Last season, he did it again, needing 16 rebounds on the final night of the season and pulling in 20 to secure the average.
“It’ll hit me at some point,” Westbrook said of his triple-double accomplishments. “Like it’s gonna hit everybody else in this room, too.”
Westbrook has 31 triple-doubles this season, tied for third most in a season. He holds the record of 42 triple-doubles in a season, set in 2016-17. On Tuesday, Westbrook made history by becoming the second player to post a 20-20-20 game, with 20 points, 20 rebounds and 21 assists. Earlier this season, he made NBA history by recording a triple-double in 11 consecutive games.
Averaging a triple-double was a feat seen by many as nearly impossible to achieve prior to Westbrook’s doing it, and now he has done it two more times. There’s a feeling around the Thunder that his historic accomplishments are being overlooked because of how normal he has made what is otherwise a massive stat line.
“I think the fact that he has done this three years in a row, people don’t understand what has happened, in my opinion,” coach Billy Donovan said. “And I’m shocked that they don’t talk about it. And I know they’re numbers, and I get all that stuff, but in terms of the historic part of the game, people are going to look back in time, and I think what he has done will be more appreciated later on than it is right now.”
Westbrook punctuated his historic night with one of the best plays of his career: a spin-move, no-look, over-the-head pass to Steven Adams in transition for a dunk.
“I saw [Adams] when I got the rebound,” Westbrook said. “I’m just glad he kept running.”
Asked if he channeled a little Magic Johnson on it, Westbrook disagreed.
“Nah, I got a little Russell Westbrook,” he said. “That’s what you got.”