After Russell Westbrook shot 12 for 36 will some ill-advised shots down the stretch in a 114-109 loss to the suspect Trail Blazers on Thursday -- but still managed a whopping 45 points -- the TNT crew, led by Charles Barkley discussed the value of Westbrook’s triple doubles considering his team’s struggles.
Barkley harped on the fact that Westbrook shot 2 of 11 in the fourth quarter. Barkley says Westbrook's obsession with averaging a triple double is taking precedence over everything else.
“I understand that he wants to average a triple double…, “ Barkley said on Inside The NBA, “but with this team they could have a better record if he trusted his teammates more and didn’t do as much.”
“If you go back and look at basketball history, when Michael Jordan was averaging 38 points a game (actually 37.1, Jordan never averaged 38 ppg) the Bulls weren't as good.”
Westbrook takes a league-high 24.1 shots per game and has taken over 300 shots more than DeMar DeRozan, No. 2 on the NBA’s field goal attempts list.
Shaq valiantly defended Westbrook by referring to his unbelievable stats and Kenny supported Westbrook too, although he agreed with some of Barkley’s criticisms.
“That past couple of years we been telling the guy he shoots too much,” Shaq said. “ Now he’s passing the ball Chuck."
Barkley retorted: “He still shoots too much. There are times where he can make his teammates much better if he trusted them more. His stats would go down but they would be better...
“I could of shot the ball 36 times a night,” Barkley continued, “ but I wanted to get other players involved. It's not just about the stats. I'm watching the game.”
Westbrook has been piling up stats at a record pace this season and is having one of the greatest individual seasons in league history. He’s probably going to become the first player other than Oscar Robertson to average a triple double. He comprises more of his team’s offense than any player in recent memory and he’s re-defining the term “one man wrecking crew.”
However, basketball purists continue to argue about whether or not Westbrook’s success is a product of being able to basically do whatever he wants on the court or a clear superiority. His teams’ lack of elite success also calls his stats into question when discussing MVP candidates. OKC is in the seventh spot in the Western Conference and not expected to make much noise in the playoffs.
The opinion on Westbrook seems to shift game to game depending on who you speak to. Nonetheless, he's still getting his shots, having fun and enjoying the ride.