Russell Westbrook

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Russell Westbrook III (born November 12, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is a seven-time NBA All-Star, and a two-time NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, winning consecutive awards in 2015 and 2016.

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Westbrook is also an six-time All-NBA Team member and led the league in scoring in 2014–15 and 2016–17. In 2017, Westbrook became one of two players in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season, along with Oscar Robertson in 1962. He also set a record for the most triple-doubles in a season, with 42.[2] He was subsequently named the 2016–17 NBA Most Valuable Player.

West

brook played college basketball for the UCLA Bruins and earned third-team all-conference honors in the Pac-10. He was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, who then relocated to Oklahoma City six days later. Westbrook has represented the United States national team twice, winning gold medals in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympics.

College career

Westbrook playing defense on USC’s O. J. Mayo

Westbrook wore number 0 throughout his career at UCLA. In his freshman year, he played as a back up to Darren Collison and was primarily used as a defender and energy player off the bench. Westbrook averaged 3.4 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.7 assists on the year. The next season, Collison was injured and Westbrook was named the starter. He finished the season averaging 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.6 steals. At the end of the year, he was named All-Pac-10 Third Team and won the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

UCLA advanced to the Final Four during each of Westbrook’s seasons with the team. In 2007, they lost to eventual national champion Florida, 76–66 and in 2008, they lost 78–63 to Memphis. After two years at UCLA, he decided to forgo his final two years and enter the 2008 NBA draft.[12]

Professional career

Oklahoma City Thunder (2008–present)

Rookie and first playoffs (2008–10)

Westbrook was selected 4th overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics (which then relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder six days later). He signed with the team on July 5, 2008.[13] On March 2, 2009, Westbrook recorded his first career triple double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He was the first rookie since Chris Paul and the third rookie in Sonics/Thunder franchise history (Art Harris and Gary Payton) to record a triple-double.[14]

Westbrook averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 steals on the season. He finished fourth in the 2008–09 NBA Rookie of the Year voting behind Rookie of the Year winner Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), O. J. Mayo(Memphis Grizzlies) and Brook Lopez (New Jersey Nets).[15] He was named to the NBA’s NBA All-Rookie First Team.

In his second year, and first season as a full-time starter, Westbrook went on to average 16.1 points, 8.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 steals on the season.

All-Star and playoff success (2010–13)

Westbrook was selected by the NBA head coaches to be a Western Conference reserve for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.[17] This was his first all-star appearance. Westbrook finished the season with averages of 21.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.9 steals. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team for the first time. 

In the 2011–12 season, Westbrook was again selected by the coaches to participate in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game. On March 23, 2012, he scored a career-high 45 points in a 149–140 double overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He averaged 23.6 points, 5.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals for the lockout-shortened season and was voted to the All-NBA Second Team for the second year in a row. Westbrook helped lead the Thunder to the NBA Finals for the first time since the franchise relocated but OKC would lose in five games to the Miami Heat

Westbrook was once again selected for the NBA All-Star Game. He finished the 2012–13 season averaging 23.2 points, 7.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game.[19] Westbrook helped lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs and the #1 seed in the Western Conference.  Westbrook was named to the All-NBA Second Team for the third consecutive year.

Injury and comeback (2013–15)

Prior to the start of the 2013–14 season, Westbrook had a second surgery on his right knee, which set back his return to basketball.[22] Westbrook and the Thunder finished with a 59-23 record earning the #2 seed in the Western Conference. They advanced to the Western Conference Finals where they faced the San Antonio Spurs. On May 27, 2014, in a game 4 victory, Westbrook recorded 40 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 steals. In doing so, he joined Michael Jordan as the only other player to post those numbers in a playoff game. The Thunder lost the series to the eventual NBA champion Spurs in six games. Westbrook averaged 26.7 points, 8.1 assists, and 7.3 rebounds in the postseason, and became the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1964 to average at least 26 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in the playoffs.

 After being injured the previous year, Westbrook returned to the All-Star game in 2015. He tallied 41 points, and was named the All-Star MVP. He scored 27 points in 11 minutes in the first half, setting an All-Star record for points in a half, and finished one point shy of the All-Star game record set by Wilt Chamberlain (42) in 1962.[32] Coming up short (2015–16)

In the playoffs, Westbrook helped guide the Thunder past the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, and then the San Antonio Spurs in the second round. In the Western Conference Finals, they faced the defending champion Golden State Warriors, and were defeated 4–3 by the Warriors to bow out of the playoffs.

MVP and triple-double season (2016–17)

Following the off-season departure of Kevin Durant, trade speculation began swirling around Westbrook, with his contract set to expire in 2017. The Thunder were determined to keep Westbrook and held off all trade talks in order to work out an extension.[63] 

Forty-one games into the season, Westbrook was averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists per game, marking the latest anyone had averaged a triple-double since Robertson in 1966–67, when he became the first player to average a triple-double for an entire season (30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists).[70]  He surpassed Chamberlain’s record with his 32nd triple-double on March 11 against the Jazz.[80] Westbrook went on to tie Robertson’s single-season record of 41 triple-doubles on April 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Westbrook also moved into a tie with Chamberlain for fourth on the career list with his 78th triple-double.[81] Three days later, he joined Robertson (in 1961–62) as the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season.  On June 26, 2017, he was named the recipient of the NBA Most Valuable Player Award at the first-ever NBA Awards Show.[88]

 

National team career

Westbrook with Team USA in 2012

In 2010, he was selected to the FIBA World Championship team in Istanbul, Turkey. On a team without an All-Star or a single member from its 2008 Olympic gold-medal team, Westbrook was considered a star on the team.[100] The 2010 team relied heavily on a small lineup,[101] and Westbrook finished in the top five on the team in minutes per game, and top three in points and assists per game. Team USA went 9-0 to win its first World Championship since 1994.[102] The win automatically qualified Team USA for the 2012 Olympics in London, and they overtook Argentina for the No. 1 world ranking.[103]

Westbrook was also selected to play for the 2012 Summer Olympic team in London, where he won a second gold medal. He declined an invitation to join the 2016 Olympic team.[104]

 

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