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Thunder: Russell Westbrook’s efficient excellence

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Russell Westbrook doesn’t do anything quietly.

Yet, his recent stretch of excellent play has flown largely under the radar. For example, the Thunder point guard scored 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds, dished seven assists and committed just one turnover Wednesday night against Minnesota, but even though we dispatched three writers from OPUBCO headquarters to chronicle the game, none of us focused our stories on Westbrook.


But in many ways, Westbrook’s efficient excellence has lulled all of us, media and fans alike, to sleep. Heck, even his teammates fall into that category.

“It’s nothing new,” Kevin Durant said of Westbrook’s performance against Minnesota. “So when you guys come and ask me about Russ, it’s nothing new. He’s doing the same things over and over again. It’s no surprise to me.”

All of us have come to expect these sorts of nights from Westbrook. We only sit up and take notice when he does something extreme on the high or the low side of that norm. But the truth is, there’s very little that’s normal about what Westbrook is doing.

He is playing out-of-his-mind basketball.

Look at his last 10 games. Even though he hasn’t always shot the ball great — 38.6 percent from the floor during this 10-game stretch — he’s had six games with six rebounds or more, including two with 11. He’s had six games of eight assists or more, including two with 10. He’s had six games with three steals and seven games with five turnovers or less. And even though he’s had some struggles shooting, he’s still scoring well, averaging 23.5 points over this last 10-game stretch.

Read those numbers again.

Because if he was doing just a couple of those things — scoring that many points and rebound that well or distributing the ball so well and playing such good defense — that would constitute a really good stretch. But he’s doing all of it.

And yet it’s so easy to say, “That’s what Russell does.”

Well, it is what he’s come to do, but that doesn’t mean it should be taken for granted. The guy is playing some spectacular basketball this season, and just because it’s become routine doesn’t mean our appreciation for it should wane.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›