Russell Westbrook wants more credit for his triple-doubles.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks was happy to oblige.
Brooks, who coached Westbrook with the Thunder, was highly complimentary after Westbrook had a 24-assist, 21-rebound triple-double in Washington’s win over the Pacers yesterday. That clinch Westbrook’s fourth and the NBA’s fifth-ever season averaging a triple-double. (Oscar Robertson had the other in 1961-62.)
Brooks, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:
“I used to always say he’s going to probably go down as the third-best point guard ever, but I think he’s passed one and he’s going to go down as probably the second-best. One is obviously Magic [Johnson]. What he does, there’s no point guard that has ever done it. Nobody. Nobody,” Brooks said.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to see him for eight years do a lot of things that are pretty much superhuman at times. Point guards don’t do what he does. They aren’t built that way,” Brooks said.
“There might be some that shoot better, there might be some that probably can do certain things better. But there’s nobody in the history of the game that can do what he does throughout the stat sheet. That guy is as high as level of a player this league has ever seen.”
Second-best point guard of all-time? Westbrook isn’t even the second-best point guard of his generation.
He ranks behind Stephen Curry and Chris Paul and, if you count him as a point guard, James Harden. Damian Lillard, who’s younger and better currently, could also surpass Westbrook.
Then, there are all the older greats like Oscar Robertson, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Walt Frazier and Bob Cousy.
Westbrook is a special player. His all-around contributions are unprecedented. He plays with an unmatched combination of ferocious athleticism and boundless energy. He has produced deep into the playoffs.
But he’s also an inefficient shooter, unreliable defender and stat-chaser.
This is nitpicking to a degree. Only a great player could average a triple-double in a season, let alone four. Westbrook deserves significant credit for his accomplishments. He’s not the only player to chase stats. He’s just within range of major statistical benchmarks more often than most players. Likewise, other players – even greats – have flaws.
But when the standard is so high – second-best point guard of all-time behind Magic Johnson – that invites focusing on Westbrook’s negatives in comparisons.
If he wanted to praise Westbrook without provoking rebukes, Brooks could have been a little more reasonable. There are plenty of good things to say about Westbrook without going too far.