DAR Sports: The 5 Best Russell Westbrook Seasons

By @TrueGodImmortal

Russell Westbrook is one of those players where it is a simple matter of you love him or you hate him. There are numerous reasons to love Russ and a number of reasons to hate him, but like any top tier player, he has earned the right to be considered one of them. Honestly, if we are going off of what makes history, Russell Westbrook is the most important player in this current era that isn't named LeBron James, Stephen Curry, or to an extent, Kevin Durant. Sure, Westbrook isn't a champion yet, and he may never become one, and he gets a bad rap for being "hard to play with", but the truth is that his playstyle is one that definitely takes some adjusting to. For the Thunder now, currently as I write this, they are 0-3 and Russ has just returned to the team following a minor injury. Will OKC turn it around? I'm sure they will. In the meantime, today, I wanted to look back at Russ and his career and list his 5 best seasons so far in his soon to be 11 year career. Which seasons make the list? Read on to find out.

5. 2011-2012
(23.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, All-Star, All-NBA, NBA Finals Appearance)

-I always go back to this season for a number of reasons. It was the first true breakout season for the Thunder and really Westbrook as a whole, even though he was voted in as an All Star the year prior. I thought Russ had something special when I watched OKC this season, and as that team began winning game after game and Russ was proving himself to be the hustle and bustle type of player he was during this time, I thought perhaps the next dynasty was here and had arrived. Of course, we know how that story would end, with the core of that young OKC team eventually all breaking up, but for this shortened lockout season, they were a force that took the top spot out West, made the playoffs, and ended up in the NBA Finals. Russ was solid in the playoffs and the Finals and one has to wonder what would have become of the dynamic young team had they all stuck together. The sky was the limit, but this is the best season for that Thunder team by far and one of Russ' most impactful seasons.

4. 2014-2015
(28.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.6 APG, 2.1 SPG, All-NBA, Scoring Title, All-Star, All-Star MVP)

-It was hard to really put a season that ends with no playoffs on this list, but this was one of the first seasons that we watched Russ go at it alone for the most part for an entire season. KD went down with an injury, and it was on Russ to captain the ship for the season. Well, the end result wasn't a playoff season, but it did result in a winning record, as the Thunder went 45-37 and just narrowly missed the playoffs. Russ however, was a madman on the court, taking his scoring to another level, and his usage to another level, perhaps setting him up for his epic MVP season. With KD only playing 27 games this year, Russ would step up, being named All-NBA, an All-Star, winning All-Star MVP, and winning his first scoring title. I would have loved to see what Russ could have done in the playoffs this year as a one man band against the 1st seed Golden State Warriors, or even against the no. 2 seed Houston Rockets that year. It is funny thinking about it now, because the same thing many fans have turned on him for currently is what they loved to see when KD was out. Fickle are the masses I guess.

3. 2017-2018
(25.4 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 10.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, All-Star, All-NBA, Assists Leader, Averages Triple Double)

-So, last season ended in immense disappointment for the Thunder and Russ. Sure, he would once again make history and become the only man in NBA history to average a triple double in back to back seasons, but the Thunder weren't much better than what they were the year prior, though injuries played a small role in that. The Thunder should have been a 50 win plus team, but their inconsistency seemed to weigh them down a little bit. While off to a rough start, the Thunder would turn things around and Russ would average a triple double for the second straight season. The thing I've always hated about Westbrook slander is that people use illogical reasoning for why they think he is a stat padder. If padding stats for a game or two is the discussion then sure, I agree. However, you cannot stat pad an entire season. Plus, for all the criticism of his number and how he got them, Russ in previous seasons before KD left had watched his rebound and assist numbers go up almost every year. So, I think this was the natural progression of his stats rising and as a result, he made history once again.

2. 2015-2016
(23.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 10.4 APG, 2.0 SPG, All-Star, All-NBA, All-Star MVP)

-So, you might be surprised to see this season over last season at the no. 2 spot, but for all the greatness that comes with averaging a triple double, the year prior to those back to back historic seasons saw Russ playing some of his best basketball alongside Durant, as the two would combine for a dynamic duo that finally maintained their health and would win 55 games before coming one game within the NBA Finals. Russ was excellent all year until the final 3 games of the Western Conference Finals. This is a season that should have resulted in a NBA Finals appearance and possibly a NBA Title.

1. 2016-2017
(31.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 10.4 APG, NBA MVP, All-Star, All-NBA, Scoring Title, Averages Triple Double)

-One of the best seasons in NBA history in terms of what he accomplished. Hands down. No one would envision this occurring. Sure, MVP seemed possible, but this? Averaging a triple double? No way. See, there are many who have tried to slander Russ for this season, and while his efficiency as a whole was not that impressive, Russ did shoot his highest percentage from three this season, along with breaking the triple doubles record in a season, along with averaging a triple double and pushing his team to the playoffs. He would even average a triple double over the 5 playoff games he was in as well. Russ would win a scoring title, MVP, be named an All-Star, and of course, All-NBA. There was something special about Russ and what he would accomplish this season and it is by far his true breakthrough year that elevated him to being a top 7 player in the league, and easily a top 3 player that season himself. Russ has his flaws for sure, but when he is at his best, he is amazing. This season is the best example of that.



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