Let’s think for a second. We always have said certain players remind us of MJ. We have given out the “Next Michael Jordan” praise numerous times. Usually when we say these things there is really no solid evidence that can be used in the court of law (ironically the only guy who has actually come close to mirroring him we choose to discredit and call a copycat smh). But there is a guy who is coming pretty close to His Airness. Though the sample size is small, a particular player in the league is on MJ levels right now. That player: Russell Westbrook.
Yeah I know a lot of you are going to be upset about this but save your tears. Westbrook is on a tear right now. He’s having a historically productive season. He’s just tied MJ’s career long streak for consecutive triple doubles. And he’s winning games. You can say what you want about him but the proof is obvious. He’s scoring. He’s getting his teammates involved. He’s rebounding. He’s doing the little things. Can’t take anything away from this guy. That’s the surface stuff. Let’s dig a little deeper to see why this is a legitimate comparison.
Let’s start with the numbers. Russ is abusing teams to the tune of 28.9 ppg, 13.6 rpg and 13 apg and has led his team to a 6-1 record during the 7 game span compared to MJ’s 30.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 11 apg and led his team to a 5-2 record during his triple double streak. Only the Big O and Wilt can lay claim to this type of domination. Any attempt to try to discredit his recent performance is just pointless. Russ is averaging more turnovers that MJ and his field goal percentage is far below Mike’s but nevertheless, you can’t deny the output.
Now let’s examine the actual gameplay. Both crazy athletic, not great shooters, makes hustle plays, both wreaking absolute havoc all over the court on both ends. MJ was better defensively than Russ at the respective stages of their careers. But overall, Russ and MJ’s games were pretty similar at the point of their triple double streaks. Both play 100 mph and just flat out physically outperform their opponent. Fundamentally sound, effective in the midrange, great finishers at the rim, both extremely explosive and complete terrors on the basketball court.
Another similarity between these two: team makeup. Both teams were fairly mediocre (in fact the Thunder are below mediocre) but their individual play keeps them in contention. Horace and Scottie were only in their second years and the rest of the roster was not overly talented. Westbrook’s team is considerably worse. There isn’t a legitimate second scoring threat so he has to force the action for them to even be competitive. His responsibility on this team might be even greater than MJ’s.
I know, I know, it’s taboo to compare anyone to Mike (even though we’ve reckless done it several times in the past with much less deserving players FYI) and I’m not even saying Russ is the same caliber player. But as of December 12th, 2016 he is having a MJ-like stretch. I’m anxious to see what he does the rest of the season.
That’s all folks.