OKC Thunder: The Rich List: Edition 3
The ‘Rich list’ Edition 3, also known as “Russ plus four’ features OKC Thunder Russell Westbrook and the top performances of January 9th, to 15th, 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 9, 2017 – January 15, 2017.
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It was a pretty successful week for the OKC Thunder, who went 3-1. As is tradition, Russ led the Thunder by making the incredible look mundane. He’s now up to 20 triple-doubles on the year, the most by any NBA in a single season since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. To this point, the Thunder have played 42 games, or a game over the halfway point of the season.
Russell averaged a triple-double for the week with averages of 25.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists (2nd in the NBA this week). His FG% of 40% was a bit low, but all-in-all it was yet another amazing week for the NBA MVP.
The Little Giant is a fourth quarter assassin. Thomas led the Celtics to a 2-1 record for the week, behind his 31 points per game (PPG). This was good for fourth in the NBA this week. He also dished 7 assists per game (APG). Most impressively, 14 of those 31 PPG came in the 4th quarter. Thomas has the highest point total in the 4th quarter in the NBA in the last 20 years!
Thomas has put to rest all the offseason narrative that the Celtics don’t have a superstar. He has become the premier clutch performer of the NBA this season.
Despite Leonard’s best efforts the Spurs went an uncharacteristic 1-2 this week. Leonard averaged 33 PPG on 65% from the field. On the less glamorous end, Kawhi was his normal lock down self as he averaged 2 steals and 1 block on the week.
Towns led the TimberPups to a 3-1 week, highlighted by a victories over the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Towns averaged 26 points, 13.8 boards, 1.3 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game on the week.
Although Minnesota has failed to live up to the lofty expectations coming into this season, the youngest team in the NBA is starting to, kind-of sort-of click, and are currently only 3 games out of the 8th seed in the crowded West. Towns is at the center of that.
Joel Embiid is one of the most fun players in the NBA right now. His bid for an All-Star roster spot has been amazing, especially his interaction with WWE’s HHH. With his play on the court lately, his bid is totally justified. The 76er’s went 2-0 in the games Embiid played this week, including the thrilling comeback victory against the Knicks.
Embiid averaged 22.5 PPG and rebounds per game (RPG), in addition to 2 blocks and 1.5 steals a game. Oh, and he only played 27.5 minutes a game. To quote HHH “To play the game, you’ve gotta go through the Process.”
Somewhere, in a Palo Alto Starbucks, Sam Hinkie is smiling with pride.
So, the Suns have been awful this year. The expected growth from Booker after his sensational rookie season hasn’t exactly happened per se. But the two games Booker had South of the border this week were simply insane. Booker put up back-to-back 39 point outings, one of which was in a victory against the Spurs.
Booker was unconscious, shooting 61.9% from the field, 75% from deep, and 89.5% from the foul line. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all he did, but scoring displays like these don’t happen all that often.
Rubio led the NBA in assists per game this week with an impressive 14, however, he only scored 11 points per game on 34.3% shooting.
Deandre led the NBA this week with 20.5 RPG, and was tied for 2nd in the NBA this week with 2.5 blocks per game. He added 17 PPG on an impressive 76% from the floor. Catching lobs from our next player on this list makes that a lot easier.
The Clippers have won 4 straight since Paul has returned. Paul averaged 19 PPG and 9.5 APG, in addition to being tied for second in the NBA this week with 3 steals per game. News he’ll be out 6 to 8 weeks following thumb surgery (from an injury he incurred in the January 16, OKC Thunder game) makes his entry bittersweet.
Jokic has been toiling away in relative anonymity in Denver, and this week was no different as he put up an impressive 22 point, 10 rebound, and 7 assist a game line. Oh, and there was this ridiculous alley-oop to Kenneth Faried in London.
And now for a new segment….
So, I’ve decided that it would be fun to add a weekly awards segment to the Rich List. Let’s get right into it:
6th Man of the Week – Enes Kanter:
Enes Kanter has been the second most important player on the OKC Thunder this year, and frankly, it hasn’t even really been that close. Kanter averaged 22.3 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes per game off the bench this week.
Related Content: Journey of Thunder Bench to find an identity
Highlight of the Week – Nikola Jokic Alley-Oop
So Nice, we’ll watch it twice…
Clutch Performance of the Week – DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan scored 41 points in an exhilarating comeback victory against the Boston Celtics.
Team(s) of the Week – Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz:
The only two teams to go undefeated over the course of the week, with almost all of them being emphatic blowouts or impressive victories against playoff teams.
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