The Oklahoma City Thunder have been ravaged by injuries all season long. In spite of being in the unforgiving Western Conference, they’ve managed to stay alive for a potential postseason appearance.
Since the All-Star break, point guard Russell Westbrook has been playing the best basketball of his career averaging 27.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season. This has been a much taller task than what was initially anticipated since reigning league MVP Kevin Durant has been in and out the line-up for most of the season, and is now out indefinitely due to a foot injury.
During Durant’s absence, Westbrook has been a triple-double machine tallying a total of nine this season. He is one of six players to record four straight triple-doubles in a season. The other three are Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain and Maurice Stokes. Westbrook’s name being mentioned in the same breathe as these NBA legends is something most NBA fans probably deemed impossible, yet, his explosive second half of the season has put him in rare territory and has helped Oklahoma City stay afloat without his dynamic partner, Durant.
Currently, the Thunder are in a three-team race with the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With 8-10 games remaining in the regular season, the Thunder are 41-31, the Suns are three games back at 38-34 and the Pelicans are three and a half games back at 37-34. The Suns and Pelicans will likely make a strong final push but it will be Westbrook that puts his team on his shoulders and will them to postseason play.