NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West has watched Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook this season and is more than impressed with what he has been able to accomplish.
In an interview with ESPN’s “The Jump,” West lathered the praise on Westbrook:
“I always felt that maybe Michael Jordan was one of those unbelievably gifted athletes. But we’re looking at a reincarnation of Michael Jordan who might be a little bit better in terms of athletic ability.”
Westbrook is coming off only the second season in NBA history in which a player has averaged a triple-double for the length of the year. He broke Oscar Robertson’s record for most triple-doubles in a year on his way to that mark.
His comments are timely. Game 2 of Oklahoma City’s opening round series against the Houston Rockets featured a 51-point effort from Westbrook, who became the first player in NBA history with a 50-point triple-double in the playoffs. The Thunder wound up losing that game, 115-111.
The comparison points specifically to athletic ability, which can be difficult to quantify in ways that stats are not. Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game for his career, while Westbrook currently sits at 22.7 PPG. Jordan had just one season in which he averaged at least 8 rebounds and 8 assists, not coming anywhere close to averaging a triple-double for the entire year.
West is one of six players, alongside Westbrook, to have posted a 40-point triple-double in the playoffs. He currently works as an advisor in the front office for the Golden State Warriors.