Russell Westbrook is a divisive player among fans, mainly because he sometimes takes on too much of the offensive burden when he has one of the game’s greatest pure scorers in Kevin Durant usually playing right along side him.
There’s no doubting Westbrook’s athleticism and talent, however, and he put up a statistical line that was one for the ages in the Thunder’s win over the Jazz on Friday.
Westbrook finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, and seven steals. The excellent Basketball Reference has a complete database of player game logs that dates back to the 1985-86 season, and Westbrook’s line was unmatched by anyone during that time — a period of 27 years.
If you want to nitpick his 6-of-18 shooting, on a night where Durant was a more efficient 8-of-13, be my guest. But it’s silly, especially on a night where the game was never in doubt for the Thunder, and when Westbrook was busting it all over the court on both sides of the ball to make things happen.
Westbrook will always have his critics, due to his fearless style of play that sometimes gets away from him to the detriment of his team’s best interests. But those occasions are becoming fewer and further between as his career progresses, and an historic performance like this one will only help in continuing to silence his detractors.
Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.
Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.
Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.
The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.
The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).
So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.
The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.
“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.
“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”
Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)
Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.
And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.
Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.