Russell Westbrook went on a major tear last year with Kevin Durant, notching triple-doubles like some vintage Michael Jordan. Against the woeful Sixers one night Westbrook’s stat line read 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. It was marvelous to watch, but even with the assists in crept the chatter that Westbrook wasn’t a “true point guard.” Westbrook must have been amused (and annoyed) — he had to score for the depleted Thunder to have a chance. They missed the playoffs by a hair anyway.
This year Durant is back and through six games the not-true-point-guard Russell Westbrook leads the NBA in assists at 10.5 a game. That’s more than the next guy by 1.5. (Ricky Rubio is averaging 9 dimes; John Wall is next at only 8.3.) The Thunder have dropped three straight and fallen back to 3-3 as they seek their delicate balance under new head coach Billy Donovan. It may be that Westbrook will have to average fewer assists and finish more shots himself around the rim. But the idea that Westbrook is a below-average passer should be dismissed.