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Thunder vs. Nuggets: Pregame Primer

Thunder vs. Nuggets: Pregame Primer

I don’t know if Russell Westbrook set out to average a triple double this season. We’ll never see the secret journal he keeps all his goals in and you know he sure as hell won’t tell us. But the fact that he did it still astounds me. This man averaged 10 rebounds per game for an entire season. The Thunder (as the Thunder) have never had anyone average over 10 boards per game. And the first man to do it in the Thunder’s 9 year history is their point guard. Wow.

When I look over the numbers for Westbrook’s season and Oscar Roberton’s season, a couple things stand out. First off, this occurred in Robertson’s 2nd season, and he was extremely close to averaging a seasonal triple double in each of his first 5 seasons. At the same time, though, you have to look at the way the game was played. Teams averaged roughly 35% more possessions in the 60’s than they do today. In addition, Robertson averaged 9.5 more minutes per game in this triple-double season. Can you imagine if you gave Westbrook 9.5 more minutes and 17.5 more possessions per game? A 40/15/15 season? Maybe 42/13/17?

That’s what makes this triple-double so amazing. There are less possessions per game, which means, less opportunities to do something related to a triple-double. So when people talk about Westbrook and efficiency, they need to stop focusing on shooting and instead focus on the fact that no one is more efficient at making something happen on every possession than Westbrook. He is the perfect combination of attack and skill. He’s the best in the league at making something happen every offensive possession. That’s the efficiency that needs to be taken into account when it comes to Westbrook and the team that he has around him.

Season Series Summary

This is the third of four meetings this season between the Thunder and Nuggets. The Thunder currently lead the season series 2-0, having won their meeting in Denver earlier in the season in overtime and winning comfortably in Oklahoma City.


  • Alex Abrines – Out (knee)
  • Andre Roberson – Questionable (knee)

Three Big Things

1. Rebounding

The Thunder and Nuggets are 1-2 in the league in rebounding. It’s a strength for both teams and the team that does better in this category has a good shot of coming out on top in this game.

2. Perimeter Defense

If we thought the Suns were loading on the perimeter, the Nuggets are uber-loaded. Not necessarily in a Warriors’ sense with quality, but more in the sense of quantity. Danilo Gallinari, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, and even Emmanuel Mudiay all give the Nuggets a constant dose of problems on the perimeter. And with Andre Roberson being questionable, this may be a repeat of the Suns game if the likes of Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, and Doug McDermott don’t batten down the hatches defensively and dig it.

3. Hist0ry????

Westbrook just needs to play his game. It’s pretty apparent that he and the Thunder just want to get the historic 42nd triple-double out of the way. He’s already got the season triple-double out of the way, so maybe that may alleviate the stress of a historic season. Given Westbrook’s history in Denver, I doubt they will act like most of the NBA and give him a hero’s welcome. So, maybe, with the confusion out of the way over who is the enemy, Westbrook will perform more like his normal self.