Westbrook Needs Oladipo: The Importance of #5

Russell Westbrook this season has been a complete beast. For the first time since Oscar Robertson, someone is averaging a triple double through the season, and it doesn’t appear like Westbrook is going to slow down. The fact that he’s trying to work on his threes as well is a bit worrying considering his average is not rising, but its likely to just add another asset to one of the most dominant games in the league already.

When Kevin Durant cowardly abandoned the Thunder in the offseason, there were many who (perhaps jokingly) predicted that Westbrook would average a triple double. They didn’t fully expect that to be the truth, but here we are. The thing is, when Westbrook is asked to win games on his own, he’s less likely to do it than when he can have a dependable companion who can get a few shots in as well.

And this season, that partner has more-often-than-not been Victor Oladipo. The shooting guard was acquired in the offseason in a trade for the expiring contract of Serge Ibaka along with Damontis Sabonis and Ersan Ilyasova (who in return brought in Jerami Grant).

Through the season, Oladipo is averaging 16 points, 2.7 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. That all goes towards helping Westbrook and the Thunder win games, which they’ve done 25 times this season through 43 games. The problem is, Oladipo missed 10 games after getting a sprained wrist against the Boston Celtics.

And that’s where his biggest impact can plainly be seen: though the Thunder won 6 of those games, Russell Westbrook was clearly impacted. Throughout the season, he has hit a triple double 20 times. When Oladipo was out, he only had 3 through 10 games, his worst streak this season.

Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Clearly, that is because most of his assists came by way of Oladipo scoring, but Westbrook was also affected in rebounds as well. That means that Oladipo, when on the court, helps Westbrook to make plays both offensively and defensively, which allows Westbrook to go and collect defensive rebounds.

That means that Oladipo and Westbrook are better together than apart, and that Westbrook has his first good SG since Harden.

When Oladipo is on the court, the Thunder are 19-14, and Westbrook has 17 triple doubles. Those stats are ridiculous for the role Oladipo was assumed to play when brought in this summer.

When Durant left, there wasn’t a lot of hope in OKC. What we didn’t know was how good Oladipo would turn out to be, how important of a player #5 could be for the Thunder, how much of a bond Oladipo would form with Westbrook. For crying out loud, Westbrook sings Oladipo to sleep.┬áThat’s amazing.

I think Westbrook is glad to have Oladipo, and I’m sure Oladipo is glad to have Westbrook. Now all the Thunder need is a 3-shooting SF and they’ll be well on their way to the championship again. Yo Paul George, you want out of Indy?

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