OKC still in battle to make the playoffs…
It has been a problematic year for the Oklahoma City Thunder given their injury woes across the roster, but point guard Russell Westbrook is their shining light as he is currently in unstoppable form.
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Having finished Friday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, the Thunder star made it three consecutive games with triple-doubles as he continues to step up and lead the team in the absence of the injured Kevin Durant.
In March alone, Westbrook is averaging 31.2 points, 10.3 assists and 9.1 rebounds as he has scored 40 points or more in three games and 30 points plus on six occasions.
The 26-year-old endured a slow start to the season after suffering a hand injury just two games into the campaign, and with Durant also sidelined after foot surgery, the Thunder fell out of playoff contention.
However, an impressive run of form over the last month or so has seen them climb into eighth spot with a 32-27 record, but the job is far from done as both the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns continue to hunt them down.
After missing 14 games in November, it is difficult to make a solid case for Westbrook to win the MVP award given the consistency across the year shown by the likes of James Harden and Stephen Curry.
Meanwhile, the same could apply to LeBron James who missed a fortnight earlier in the season but has since come on and found his form to raise the debate over whether or not he should be considered too.
Yet if Westbrook continues to perform at his current level and ensures that the Thunder make the post-season with Durant still expected to be sidelined for a week or so, then it will certainly ensure that he is a legitimate contender.
Westbrook’s averages this season are all up on his career numbers, and with OKC winning 10 of their 13 games this month, they are in his debt for such big-time performances while he also played a star role in the All-Star Game in New York on February 15.
Given his injury problems in previous years, it makes it all the more remarkable that the explosive point guard is performing at such a high level. Although he is shooting the ball a lot and his turnovers are creeping up, he should be commended for how he is playing.
Nevertheless, the Thunder have worryingly lost their last two games in which Westbrook has scored 39 and 40 points respectively, and so there is a danger that his individual brilliance is not having the desired effect on the team as a whole.
If that’s the case then it makes his MVP argument all the more difficult, but if he continues to wrack up triple-doubles on a regular basis then there is nothing to stop him being considered along with the favourites to be crowned MVP.