Russell Westbrook is 1st to average 30 points and 10 rebounds since Karl Malone; only player below 6’5″ to reach feat
Another lost nugget of Russell Westbrook‘s amazing triple-double year is the fact that he is the first player to average 30 points and 10 rebounds for a season since the “Mailman” Karl Malone did so in 1989-90, according to Basketball-Reference.
Malone was one of the most dominant forces in the low-post despite being an undersized power forward at 6-foot-9. His impressive footwork, ability to finish with both hands, and innate chemistry with point guard John Stockton, were the reason why opponents hated playing against the Utah Jazz throughout the 90’s.
“The Admiral” David Robinson came close to matching Malone in 1993-94, averaging 29.8 points and 10.7 rebounds. “The Diesel” himself, Shaquille O’Neal, was close-but-no-cigar on several seasons, averaging 29.3, 29.3, and 29.7 points along with double-digit rebounds in 1993-94, 1994-95, and 1999-00, respectively, but ultimately falling shy of the mythical 30-and-10.
Westbrook is also the only player smaller than 6-foot-5 to average 10 rebounds for a season. Which 6-foot-5 player averaged those 10 rebounds, you ask? — none other than the legendary Oscar Robertson back in 1961-62 — his only triple-double season of his career.
While many, including ESPN’s Zach Lowe have suggested Westbrook pads his rebounding totals in a game-to-game basis, there’s several arguments to nullify such rationale.
- First off, just about any guard can try to pad his rebounds, but how many of them are getting to 10? — None.
- Secondly, Westbrook is grabbing these rebounds in 10 fewer minutes than Robertson did his, a proof of his freakish athleticism and unrelenting desire to get the ball.
- Lastly, the Long Beach native is pulling down 1.7 offensive rebounds per game, which is right in line with his career average. No team is willing to help him “pad his stats” there — he just goes up and snatches them off the glass.
If it wasn’t enough to be in company of Robertson, also being compared to one of the best power forwards the NBA has seen is quite the merit for the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard.