On page four of the Oklahoma City Thunder's nightly 17-page packet of pre-game notes is a blurb about Russell Westbrook entitled, “Russell Rules.”
The man himself, who sits at his locker and flips through the stat pack before each game, strives to skip over the note.
Be it to avoid bad luck, bad karma or bad intentions, Westbrook simply doesn't want to give it too much stock. But the brief paragraph, and the adjacent chart, illustrates just how spectacular a season Westbrook is having.
It points out that Westbrook is the only player in the league averaging at least 22 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
“That's a great accomplishment. It'd be better if we had the best record as well,” Westbrook said modestly. “But it's definitely a good thing to have. But I still have room for improvement.”
Should Westbrook finish the season averaging 22 points and eight assists, he'll join only four other players since the 2000-01 season to accomplish that statistical feat. The chart to the right of the note in the stat pack lists Gary Payton (twice), Stephon Marbury, Chris Paul and LeBron James as the only other players to do so. Chicago's Derrick Rose is also on pace to join the exclusive club, while Utah's Deron Williams currently sits just 0.3 points shy.
Westbrook, meanwhile, claimed he wasn't aware of the list despite his consistent comb over of the pre-game stats.
“I feel I'm playing well,” Westbrook said. “But I always can do better … I definitely think it's an improved season from my second year. It's been another step for me.”
Asked which number he's most impressed with, the points average, the rebounds or the assists, Westbrook went another direction.
“I would say just me being smarter,” Westbrook said. “I think just knowing the game a lot better has helped me become a better player and be able to do certain things like rebound, make the right passes and be able to score in different areas.”
Two cubicles over, teammate Kevin Durant didn't mind offering up his opinion on the same question.
“I think it's the 22 points,” Durant said. “Because just looking at his track record, his first year in college he averaged a hair over two points a game. And then he averaged 12 points in his sophomore year. He stepped up in the league and that's impressive.”
Durant attributed Westbrook's scoring surge — a 6.6-point increase over last season — to the third-year point guard getting more opportunities. Westbrook is averaging 3.4 more shots this season, but Durant credited his point guard for capitalizing on his growing chances.
“He's growing,” Durant said. “He's getting better.”
Westbrook leads the league in total turnovers with 161, but he's shown improvement in his ability to take care of the ball. In his previous seven games before Saturday's win over New York, Westbrook had averaged just 2.8 turnovers. His assists average over that same span stood at 10.7.
“Just making better decisions,” Westbrook explained. “Turnovers happen. Sometimes, because of how I play, they happen. I've just got to slow down and see what I can and try not to force it.”
Westbrook's statistical production in only his third season makes you wonder what's next, what's his ceiling?
Not even the man himself knows. But one thing Westbrook is certain of is he's moving in the right direction — a march toward the title of the league's best point guard.
“It's definitely is a good spot to be in, especially if you want to make the next jump of being named as one of the best in this game, or being the best,” Westbrook said. “But I also want to take my time. I'm not in a rush. I just want to try to get better and try to stay focused on our team and not worry about myself trying to get better and becoming a better point guard.”