Monday Bolts – 4.3.17

Berry Tramel: “We all have been mesmerized by Westbrook’s amazing season, which continued Sunday with a 40-point triple double (13 rebounds, 10 assists). We watch several nights a week as Westbrook performs comic-book-level feats. But voters across America aren’t as fixated on the nightly heroics. They will look at the sum of the parts, and that sums right now says sixth or seventh place. OKC’s finish is likely to sway voters to James Harden, whose Rockets have remained on a 55-win pace. If the Thunder finishes seventh, it’s hard to mount any argument for Westbrook, even with the scaling of Mount Oscar. There are only seven good teams in the West. And Westbrook could have only himself to blame. His excessive passing, be it to get teammates involved or an early jump on a triple double, is laying a foundation of sloppiness.”

Brett Dawson: “He had used up so much magic in a week, but there was a moment on Sunday when it looked like maybe Russell Westbrook had another trick up his sleeve. Time was running out on the Thunder when he leaned into a 3-pointer and drew a foul, ratting home the shot to cut what had been a 21-point Hornets lead to 11. Westbrook went to the free-throw line with 1:35 to play, his team clinging to the slimmest of comeback hopes and Chesapeake Energy Arena buzzing with something like belief. He missed the free throw — perhaps on purpose — and was called for a lane violation, overturning an offensive rebound and score.”

Russ passed the 15K milestone yesterday.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com: “You mean Russell Westbrook could average a triple-double and not win the MVP? It seems very possible. Did you know that when Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1961-62, he finished third in the MVP voting? Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged 50.4 points, 25.7 rebounds and 48.5 minutes a game (there’s a record that won’t be broken), finished second. Bill Russell won the award, and it wasn’t close. He received 51 of the possible 85 votes. Sometimes the competition is simply that tough.”

ESPN Stats: “It was also Westbrook’s sixth straight game with a triple-double. He became the first player in NBA history to have separate streaks of more than five triple-doubles in the same season. Unfortunately for Westbrook, his huge game came in a loss for the Oklahoma City Thunder, his second while recording a triple-double at home. According to Elias, he is the first player since Maurice Stokes of the Cincinnati Royals in the 1957-58 season to record back-to-back triple-doubles in home losses.”

Erik Horne: “Thunder coach Billy Donovan said the team takes into account Westbrook’s entire history, from minutes to injuries, in determining his workload. Input from Westbrook is also factored in. It’s worked. Since three knee surgeries in eight months back in 2013, Westbrook has stayed relatively healthy. The result: Triple-doubles in 30 percent of his regular-season games (70 of 222) the last three seasons. Barring injury, sometime next season Westbrook will likely eclipse 100 career triple-doubles. That’s Jason Kidd territory. The Milwaukee Bucks coach is third all-time with 107. To Kidd, Westbrook alleviates the physical toll of the triple-double because of his efficiency, which also ties into Westbrook getting more done in the same amount of minutes, the same distances traveled. But if you’re involved in as many plays as Westbrook is during a triple-double game, doesn’t that stress the body?”

Andrew Sharp of SI.com: “He is our new Mad King. He’s not the best player in the NBA. He’s not even the best point guard. If I wanted to build a title team with multiple stars, I’d take Steph Curry over him every time (and possibly John Wall). Technically speaking, James Harden has been every bit as valuable to a better team this season, and Kawhi Leonard probably has been as well. LeBron James is still the most dominant player alive. But maybe none of that should matter if the goal of an award is to document what it was like to watch basketball during a given season.”

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