Jan 2, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 98-94. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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The ‘Rich list’ Edition 2, also known as “Russ plus four’ features OKC Thunder Russell Westbrook and the top performances of January 2nd, to 8th, 2017.
It’s a long season. Eighty two games for each team spread out from the last week of October to the middle of April; there are 1,230 games of professional basketball played each season. Naturally, there’s bound to be stretches of amazing basketball by the equally amazing players in the NBA; some of which may get lost in the shuffle as the season wears on.
Welcome to the Rich List, AKA Russ plus Four, a weekly list designed to highlight the five (four and Russell Westbrook), best players of the preceding week in the NBA, in this case the week of January 2, 2017 – January 8, 2017.
First up, the man of the hour and the top backcourt performer of the past week:
Nov 16, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket in front of Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
In case you’ve somehow missed it: Russell Westbrook is pretty good at basketball. He’s in the middle of a historic season, on course to become just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double over the course of a season.
Russell kept it up this week, with averages of 36 points, 11.7 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 2.5 steals per game over the course of the week. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the Thunder much, as they finished the week 1-3.
That said, if you’re reading this, chances are you already know how good Russ is. Hopefully, the Thunder bounce back after an underwhelming week.
Former Thunder Buddy James Harden is not to be overshadowed by Russell Westbrook. This is a two man race for the MVP this season, and both players are putting on offensive clinics every night they play.
The Rockets haven’t lost since December 23rd, and this week they went a perfect 4-0, led mostly by Harden’s 25.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 10.8 assists a night.
Suffice to say, the chant is alive again: Fear. The. Beard.
Jan 6, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots over New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Giannis continued his ascension to super stardom this week. The young point forward on the Bucks missed their last contest against the Wizards this week. Before that Giannis led the Bucks to a 2-1 week, with victories against the Thunder and the Knicks.
They also lost to the Knicks, and due to Kristaps Porzingis missing their first contest, we were cheated of a Unicorn Battle.
Giannis averaged 26 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists (which is low, and a result of the emergence of rookie point guard Malcom Brogdon), 1.3 steals, and 3 blocks a game.
The Greek Freak continues to do it all, and we should all appreciate the next big thing in the NBA.
The sole bright spot on a depressing and mismatched Bulls team, Butler was unstoppable this week. Butler started off the New Year by dropping 52 points on the Charlotte Hornets. He’d finish the week with averages of 37.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists a game.
On the less glamourous side of the ball, Butler chipped in 2.3 steals a game this week, continuing to lock down some of the elite players of the NBA.
Which was especially true this week, as Butler led the Bulls to a perfect 3-0, picking up victories against Charlotte, Cleveland, and Toronto, all of whom are in the playoff picture, to say the least.
The big man from Detroit has been somewhat disappointing after his breakout All-Star season last year. Drummond exploded this week, to the tune of 22.3 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 1.75 blocks per game.
Even more importantly, Drummond was great (by his standards) from the free throw line this week, connecting on 50 percent of his free throws. Detroit was an impressive 3-1 this week, highlighted by a thrilling one-point win against the Charlotte Hornets.
January 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3, left) dribbles the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30, right) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
C.J. McCollum: What a week for C.J. The Blazers only went 2-2 this week, but McCollum was completely locked in, scoring at will. He averaged 35 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists over the course of the week.