Which of Russell Westbrook's Triple-Doubles Was the Best of His Historic Year?
If you've been following along at all, you know this has been the year of the triple-double in the NBA. A total of 117 triple-double performances this year set a new league record.
At the center of this triple-double surge was Russell Westbrook. In 81 regular season games, the Oklahoma City point guard tallied 42 triple-doubles -- surpassing Oscar Robertson for the most in a single season in NBA history. And, in five playoff contests, he added three more such performances.
When Westbrook's season came to an end Tuesday night, that finalized his amazing triple-double-filled campaign. And after all was said and done, the MVP candidate had posted a triple double in 52.3% of the time between the regular season and playoffs.
His performances spanned 177 days, more than 25 weeks, nearly 6 months, and 48.49% of a regular calendar year. As for the most time between triple-doubles, that was just 13 days, from October 30th to November 13th.
That's a lot of time and a lot of games. So how could we possibly decide which one of Westbrook's triple-doubles was the best?
By using nERD -- that's how. This is a numberFire metric that measures the total contribution of a player throughout the course of a season, based on efficiency. In the same fashion, we track player nERD for each game through our numberFire Live platform.
Using these single-game figures, we can determine which games were the best, based on both production and efficiency -- or, in other words, overall impact. Here, we can do just that for each of Westbrook's 45 triple-doubles.
What we'll do is group them in tiers by nERD, while working our way toward the top.
Clearly, Westbrook nor the Thunder enjoyed much success in these games.
They lost five of eight as Westbrook shot a combined 34.1% from the field for a net rating of -78.
As we make the turn into positive territory, there's a big difference in the team outcome, as evidenced by OKC's 5-2 record in these seven games.
Four of their wins came against playoff-caliber teams, including one over the Houston Rockets in their first-round matchup.
It would appear that, according to the list, fewer points was better for Westbrook. Another note to take away is that in the Thunder's win over the Rockets, Westbrook's net rating was a perfect zero and his 42.4% assist percentage was the lowest of the seven contests in which he posted a triple-double with a nERD between 0.01 and 9.99.
As the record improves to 6-2, we see two big stat lines from Westbrook. The top two games by nERD -- against the Suns and Rockets -- were particularly impressive.
In that pair of games, Brodie combined for 86 points, 24 assists and 27 rebounds in 84 minutes of play. To boot, he assisted on at least 58.0% of his team's field goals while holding his turnover rate below 13.0% in both contests.
So, 8-1? Not bad -- especially when you consider that three of those wins came on the road. That's just what happens when Westbrook takes over.
On two different occasions, it took less than 28 minutes for Westbrook to compile a triple-double in the box score. In those two games, he posted a net rating of 87 with usage rates of just 26.1% and 20.1% against the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively.
Undefeated -- that's what the Thunder are when putting up a nERD between 32 and 46.
In these eight games, Westbrook shot 54.0% from the field and an unbelievable 58.5% from three-point land. He was even 50 of 58 (86.2%) from the free throw line, ultimately leading to a true shooting percentage of 62.3% or greater in each.
Basically, these were Westbrook's biggest scoring triple-doubles of the year. In all three, he poured in at least 41 points on shooting 55.8% from the field while assisting on 70.0%, 85.1% and 65.7% of his team's field goals.
Somehow, on one end, the Thunder lost to the Magic on their home floor. On the other, they beat the Celtics in Boston on the back of Westbrook's third-best triple-double performance of the season. That speaks to the plague that was a complete and utter lack of a consistent supporting cast in OKC.
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
Of his two triple-doubles with a nERD of 70 or higher, the better of the two came in a win against the Denver Nuggets earlier this month. In 37 minutes, Westbrook scored the third of his four 50-point triple-doubles on 17 of 32 from the floor, 5 of 12 from three and 11 of 11 from the line.
With a usage of 42.9%, it's hard to believe Westbrook had a mere two turnovers and 10 assists. Mix in a rebound rate of 45.5% and you get one ultra-efficient triple-double.
Great shooting, good ball security and aggressive rebounding? Yeah, that'll do it.
And I think I speak for all NBA fans when I say thank you for the historic and entertaining season, Mr. Westbrook.