When the Washington Wizards traded John Wall to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook this past offseason, the franchise was excited about teaming up the former MVP with All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal. After missing the playoffs the previous two seasons, the Wizards were confident the Westbrook-Beal duo could lead the team back to the postseason.
However, through the Wizards’ first four games of the 2020-21 season, the club looks like a lottery team even though Russell Westbrook is putting up historic numbers.
Russell Westbrook has been a walking triple-double since 2016-17
From 2016 to 2019, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 2016-17 MVP did something no one thought could be done by averaging a triple-double three seasons in a row. He put up 26.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.4 assists over his final three years in OKC.
With the Thunder, Rockets, and Wizards, Westbrook has recorded 149 triple-doubles, good for second place in NBA history. He trails only the great Oscar Robertson, who had 181 during his legendary playing career. Westbrook has racked up several triple-doubles before halftime of games. He makes getting a triple-double look relatively easy when everyone knows it’s a hard feat to accomplish.
The Thunder had a stellar record when Russell Westbrook finished with a triple-double. Unfortunately for the Wizards, the Westbrook era hasn’t gotten off to a similar start.
The Wizards are 0-4 despite Russell Westbrook having a triple-double in each game
The Wizards have started the 2020-21 season at 0-4. Their losses have come against the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic (twice), and Chicago Bulls. Russell Westbrook has registered a triple-double in the three games he’s played this season. He’s the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to record a triple-double in each of his first three games in a season.
Unlike his days on the Thunder, Westbrook’s triple-doubles aren’t resulting in wins for the Wizards to begin the season. The nine-time All-Star is averaging 19.0 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 12.7 assists with the Wizards, but he’s shooting only 41.4% from the field and a woeful 10.0% from beyond the arc.
Russell Westbrook may be putting up historic numbers to begin the season, but the Wizards aren’t winning games. While they appreciate Westbrook’s energy, DC fans don’t care about his individual play if the club can’t rack up wins.
Wizards star quotes Martin Luther King Jr. after 0-4 start
After the Wizards lost to the Bulls, Russell Westbrook took to Instagram and quoted the late great Martin Luther King Jr. The future Hall of Famer is sending a message to his new teammates, urging them to stick together during this rough patch to begin the season.
Westbrook is a polarizing player due to his erratic play at times. However, he’s undoubtedly one of the best leaders and teammates in the NBA and is never afraid to be held accountable. One of the reasons the explosive guard requested a trade from the Rockets is he felt the franchise’s culture didn’t promote accountability.
The Wizards will face the Bulls again on New Year’s Eve to close out 2020. It’s going to be interesting to see how Russell Westbrook and Co. play in that game and if the team can finally get a win in 2020-21. If Westbrook puts up another triple-double in a loss, the term “empty stats player” may start to haunt the former UCLA Bruin again.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.