Someday, Russell Westbrook will look back with pride on the 2014-15 season, when he won the NBA scoring crown.
Wednesday was not that day.
Westbrook put up 37 points on the final night of the season — 34 in the first half — to finish with an average of 28.1 points a game, just beating out James Harden for the NBA scoring title.
However, as it has been too often lately for the Thunder, Westbrook’s heroic efforts were not enough. Those efforts were enough for the Thunder to beat the Timberwolves 138-113 on the final day of the season, but with the Pelicans beating the Spurs the Thunder are on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
So don’t ask Westbrook about his scoring title, which someone did anyway because it’s their job. Here’s Westbrook’s response, via Royce Young of ESPN.
He’s understandably frustrated.
Still, this is an historic accomplishment. Westbrook and Kevin Durant became the first back-to-back NBA scoring title winners on the same team since Paul Arizin and Neil Johnston of the Philadephia Warriors in 1952 and 1953. It’s been a while.
For Westbrook, his play — a ridiculous run of 11 triple-doubles this year — brought him out of the shadow of Durant in the eyes of casual fans who often asked, “why doesn’t he pass more like a real point guard?” Or, “why won’t he play Robin to Durant’s Batman?”
Because the Thunder have two Batmen. That is clear now.
Westbrook missed 13 games due to a broken hand, plus suffered a nasty facial fracture that required him to wear a mask. None of it slowed him. In a season where Durant was out much of the time battling foot injuries, Westbrook carried the Thunder offense and the team to the brink of the playoffs. Just not one step more.
Someday Westbrook can look back on this season’s effort with pride. But that day is not today.