Russell Westbrook’s Record-Breaking Seasons: The Triple-Double King

Russell Westbrook is called by many as “Mr. Triple-Double” for a reason. He averaged double digits in points, rebounds, and assists per game from 2016-17 until 2018-19 and added another during the 2021-22 season. Before him, only the legendary Oscar Robertson achieved the same feat in a single season. The “Big O” had 30.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 11.4 APG during the 1961-62 campaign with the Cincinnati Royals.

Westbrook, who now plays for the LA Clippers, is also the career leader in that category. After last season, he has 198. Robertson has 181, Magic Johnson with 138, and LeBron James, the active player closest to him, has 107.

The former OKC Thunder superstar also owns the most triple-doubles in a single season with 42, which he accomplished during his MVP campaign in 2016-17. He broke Robertson’s 55-year-old record of 41. Westbrook owns three of the top five numbers in that category for a single season.

Russell Westbrook might have also made it five consecutive seasons averaging a triple-double. If not for his stint alongside James Harden during his one-year stay with the Houston Rockets, he could have accomplished the staggering feat.

Russell Westbrook's Record-Breaking Seasons: The Triple-Double King
Russell Westbrook’s Record-Breaking Seasons: The Triple-Double King

Harden and Westbrook were former teammates in Oklahoma but during their time in Houston, the Rockets were unquestionably “The Beard’s” team. Despite sharing ball-handling duties with Harden, “Brodie” still averaged 27.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 7.0 APG.

Like Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson also had several seasons where he nearly had a triple-double. In the iconic point guard’s rookie year, he put up 30.5 PPG, 10.1 RPG, and 9.7 APG. Robertson averaged 30.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG, and 10.4 APG in his first five NBA seasons.

Russell Westbrook will be playing again with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. He will remain as the Clippers’ playmaker but he will have to cede control of the game to the two superstars as well. For that reason alone, his triple-double opportunities will not be as many.

Nikola Jokic, on the other hand, will be the Denver Nuggets’ fulcrum on offense. Last season, he averaged 24.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 9.8 APG. “The Joker” could have accomplished that feat to join Westbrook and Oscar Robertson but did not seem interested.

The Serbian could be even better next season, which will be a scary proposition for Nuggets opponents. Jokic now has 105 triple-doubles in eight seasons, just two behind LeBron James, who will be entering his 21st year in the NBA.

The 2023 NBA Finals MVP finished last season with 29 triple-doubles, twice more than second-placer Domantas Sabonis who had 14. Nikola Jokic might not average a triple-double for a whole season but he’s looking like the heir apparent to Russell Westbrook’s throne.

For 55 seasons, Oscar Robertson stood alone as the only player to average a triple-double for a season. Then Russell Westbrook came along. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard not only joined the Hall of Famer in the record books, he created his own chapter, accomplishing the triple-double feat in back-to-back seasons.

In 2016-17, Westbrook not only joined Robertson as the only players in league history to average a triple-double for the season, he also broke Robertson’s single-season record for them (41 triple-doubles in 1961-62).

For his efforts that season, the former UCLA standout earned the Kia Most Valuable Player award. The point guard beat out Houston’s James Harden and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

During Robertson’s triple-double season, he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game for the Cincinnati Royals. Westbrook finished 2016-17 averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. But one time was enough for the 6-foot-3 guard, who was selected No. 4 overall in the 2008 Draft.

Russell Westbrook becomes the first player to average a triple-double in two separate seasons.

In 2017-18, Westbrook became the only person in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season twice in a career. This time, the Thunder superstar entered the final two games of the 2017-18 campaign needing 34 total rebounds to average 10 per contest and complete the feat.

Westbrook snared 18 boards against Miami, and needed 16 in the season finale to clinch a triple-double average for the season.

He snared rebound No. 16 with nine minutes left in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies, and a standing ovation ensued. He finished with just six points, but had a career-high 20 rebounds and 19 assists.

I’m very, very thankful and blessed, man, to go out and compete, Westbrook said then. Like I’ve said many, many times, I don’t take this game for granted. I don’t take going out on the floor and competing for granted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.