At the midway point of the 2016-17 NBA season, the fact that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double instantly makes it one of the most compelling storylines of the year. TNT and NBA TV analyst Brent Barry joined The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday and talked about Westbrook’s pursuit to become the second player ever to average a triple-double for an entire season, alongside Oscar Robertson’s 1961-62 record year.
“I think its historic obviously,” Barry said of Westbrook’s season. “I’ve been around the game a long time, that is true. I wish it was longer, in that watching Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain dominate so many years ago, because for us, it’s lore. We don’t get to see video footage of that. We sort of live through the stories vicariously of legendary players who had an opportunity to compete against those guys and what they were doing at that time.
“But there’s no doubt that players around the league looking at what Russell’s done and really what James Harden has done through the first half of the season, the murmur is we are probably watching the greatest offensive season, or the greatest season that the NBA has ever seen statistically and everything sort of starts with what Russell has been able to accomplish thus far in Oklahoma City.”
Barry also pointed out that lost in Westbrook and Harden’s outstanding season is 4-time MVP LeBron James’ efficiency, which has been off the charts.
“The funny thing that’s getting lost in all the minutes that LeBron’s playing and there’s been plenty of talk about that, is just how incredible that he’s been,” Barry said. “Especially over the course of the past couple weeks with regards to passing the ball and his efficiency, just incredible and on the rise. Again, just showing why he’s probably going to be one of the top 3 greatest players that’s ever played the game, and is and should be considered that way.”
Barry also talked about how much more interesting the Eastern Conference Playoff race may have gotten with Kevin Love’s injury and Toronto’s deal to bring in Serge Ibaka.
“So Love’s hurt, they got J.R. Smith now out, what’s his conditioning and will he get back this season, how significant is the Love injury and how much can Cleveland kind of dig in and what will that cost them? Because at some point physically, you are going to have to slow it down and could there be a matchup there in the East?” Barry said. “Whether that’s Toronto and they get themselves together or whether that’s Boston and Danny [Ainge], whatever he’s going to do in the next couple weeks. Much on the table for them with regards to assets and trade deadlines and setting things up. Can they be a player, whether without doing anything? Can they be a player against Cleveland and be that matchup? Because they [Cleveland] are not quite all together. I think it just makes for great intrigue in the Eastern Conference which we’ve been talking about since the beginning of summer Cleveland only, it’s just a glimmer of hope for the rest of those teams I think.”