Award campaigns are built on a lot of things, but the proverbial “Heisman moment” can swing the race more than simple narrative, or stats, or whatever.
Like last year, Steph Curry hit 12 3-pointers against the Thunder and a ridiculous game-winner, at the peak of his hype. The league buzzed about him for weeks, and he went on to become the first unanimous MVP.
Russell Westbrook’s season has been stocked full of these moments. Like, you probably forgot about this 3 he hit against the Wizards to force overtime, didn’t you? Or even the one against the Pacers, even though the Thunder lost?
Here are 10 of them, in a descending order:
10. Westbrook daggers the Clippers
This was the night the Cubs won the World Series, and thankfully, the game ended right around when Westbrook had that steal and dunk in the final minutes that set up his dagger to seal a win giant with for the Thunder. It made OKC 4-0, but more importantly, proved to some of the young guys that maybe they will be kinda good.
9. Westbrook multi-daggers the Celtics
This was just absurd. Up there as one of the Thunder’s best overall wins of the season, especially because it was without Oladipo, and at a time where there wasn’t any actual present depth to replace him.
8. Westbrook and-1s the Jazz
Not the prettiest game-winning play, but one of the most Westbrook there is. Grab the rebound and by sheer force of will, ram the ball into the basket.
7. Westbrook poster-daggers the Rockets
I remember when this play happened, as I saw Westbrook taking off I was thinking, “What are you doing you idiot?” The Thunder were up one with the shot clock off and just needed to hold on to the ball, run clock and wait for a foul. Instead, Westbrook decided to murderkill Clint Capela. Thank you for being an idiot, Russ.
6. The full-court five-hole
Not a clutch moment, but a ridiculous one all the same. We can debate if it was on purpose or not, but who cares. It happened, and it was spectacular.
5. Westbrook hits the Jazz with the cotton dagger
The Jazz apparently wanted Westbrook to take the pull-up, as Gobert clearly feared a blow-by. Westbrook obliged, and splashed a giant jumper. Another one of those wins that said, “Hey, maybe they aren’t bad.” Also, sans Oladipo.
4. Westbrook daggers the Grizzlies
This shot locked up the 6-seed. “Just the 6-seed?” some fun-hating moron mewls. Yeah, in the season after Kevin Durant left, the Thunder were in the conversation for 50 wins and the 4-seed up until the last week of the season, and ended up with at least 46 and the 6-seed.
3. Westbrook completes the comeback on the Mavs
The moment the ball was inbounded, and I saw Westbrook with space in isolation as Wes Matthews backpedaled, I said to the person next to me, “This is gonna be cash.” You can’t let Westbrook walked into this kind of jumper. He works on it too damn much to miss it.
2. Westbrook with some magic against the Magic
I, uh, don’t even.
1. Westbrook wait he did what against the Nuggets
So here’s the thing: Go through the Thunder’s schedule and look at the games where Westbrook rose to the occasion in a big moment. Other players like LeBron or Harden or Kawhi or Steph all have game-changing moments throughout the season, but Westbrook has SO MANY of them. If you took away all of them, I have the Thunder at something like 33-47 right now. It’s not just that Westbrook did this stuff a lot — it’s that him doing it is directly what has led to the Thunder grabbing the 6-seed. There should be some kind of award that recognizes this.