Nick Wright reacts to Westbrook’s triple-double average for 2nd-straight year: ‘This guy is a freak!’

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Reflecting on Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double for the 2nd year in a row (* the first player to do so in NBA history), Nick Wright reveals to Cris Carter and Jenna Wolfe why he believes the Oklahoma City Thunder PG is such an exceptionally gifted player despite pundits criticizing Russ for padding his stats.

- Last night was an odd game. Last night Russ was not playing his typical game. Last night they were playing the Grizzlies. He was out there to make sure he got the 16 rebounds he needed. But that's fine. They still won the game.

JENNA WOLFE: Is it different than LeBron being out there, making sure he got his 10 points in 10 minutes, or whatever it was?

- No, it's not. You know what? That is great and fair point. LeBron played last night for one reason-- to make sure he played in all 82 games. And once he was going to play in all 82 games--

JENNA WOLFE: Double digit.

- I ain't breaking this streak because we're rested now. So he made sure he gets his 10 points. It's a great comparison. What has happened with Russ and the triple-doubles in my eyes is this-- last year Russ averaging a triple-double because it was so new and because we thought for a long time it would never be done again.

The reason people know Oscar Robertson's name more than they know Elgin Baylor's name, it's not because Oscar was a wildly better player than Elgin. It's because Oscar had something that was attached to him-- oh, the only guy to ever average a triple-double. And we thought maybe the only guy that ever would average a triple-double.

So last year Russ doing it, in my eyes, was probably actually slightly overrated. It won him the MVP when I think he should have come in third in the MVP. And this year, now the backlash to the backlash has been, this year, him doing it again has been underrated.

It was something-- Cris, you and I were on the phone two weeks ago, and the Thunder game was on. But I didn't have the sound on. And I said to you, I was like, you know, Russ needs like 46 rebounds to average a triple-double. And you said, you're like, they just mentioned that on the broadcast like no one's been talking about it, like it's flown under the radar this year as opposed to last year when it was clearly like a goal of his.

And now people are acting like, oh, yeah, anyone could do it if they went after it, if they stat-padded. I mean, anyone could not do this. You don't think LeBron would have liked to average a triple-double one year? He hasn't been able to. No one has been able to. A lot of guys would have liked to. So I understand Russ' push back on this idea that it's a fraudulent accomplishment.

- Well, there's a lot of ignorance in covering sports. And Russ is right. If you could get 15 rebounds in an NBA game, you wouldn't be sitting on TV talking about basketball. Someone would have you employed. You would be gainfully playing in an NBA jersey. And if there was an NBA player-- you mentioned it, LeBron. The reason why LeBron don't average no triple-double, because he can't.

Russ is the only guy in league history that has been able to do it. I mean, Oscar Robinson was a special basketball player. Not only did he have the ability to build the score at 6'6"- 6'7", his ability to be able to dribble the ball. It wasn't a once every decade-type player. He was the only player in history that we had seen like that.

And then Russ comes along. And then now people talk about, well, oh, it's easy to do. No it's not. Russ is that kind of talent. But Russ is the kid that when he's playing in youth basketball, he's scoring all the points and getting to all the loose balls. Russ is that guy in the NBA. Now you don't like it, like, that is your problem. But that is who Russ is.

Watch the game. Watch when the ball-- there are so many 50-50 balls that Russ gets to because of his tenacity, because of his attitude. And also, as far as last night's game is concerned, when you have played the NBA season the way these guys have, when you averaged a triple-double the year before, you have earned the right in the 82nd game of the year to go out there and chase the stats because of what you did on a nightly basis. LeBron James, when you have scored how many games over 10 points?

- 871, 879.

- So go out there and get your double, triple points.

- And when you have played 81 games, all of them, when your team, as coach pointed out, that they'd been through basically three seasons in one, you have earned the right to do that. So for me, I don't think-- and I'm from Russ' camp. You know, I question what your basketball IQ is in watching Russ and realizing that anything that he does, it's not easy to be able to do.

- Why isn't this a bigger deal then? Is it, are we--

- I'm going to tell you why. It's because the guys who cover the league, who might have the highest scored IQ when you say basketball IQ, just general IQ-- we have, in a way, swayed too far in the analytic's direction. I love the basketball analytics. You know I bring up stats, value over replacement player, box were plus-minus, a true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, a lot of things that I think are valuable and important.

But there is no way to measure the boost that team gets when Russ comes flying in from 18 feet out for a putback. That is immeasurable. But I watch these games, and it gives them a boost. There is no way to measure the ability he has to inspire his teammates to play harder in Game 63 because this guy's been playing that hard from Game 1 of his career to right now.

There are fair criticisms of Russ. He takes too many 3's. He can sometimes not be the easiest guy to play with. Maybe if he had adjusted his mentality slightly, KD would still be there. There are fair criticisms of him.

But to criticize him because he busts his ass every night and says, "I'm going to do something no one's ever done, and I'm going to be one of the 10 best players in the league en route to doing it," that's ridiculous. We can't go so far as to where we only look at the analytical numbers and not look at what we're seeing, which is this guy is a freak. And we've never seen a player quite like Russell Westbrook.