Washington Wizards

The triple-doubles keep coming for Russell Westbrook, but wins continue to elude the Wizards

Russell Westbrook arrived in DC in the off-season, with the hopes that the former MVP could revitalize the franchise and vault them back into the playoffs after a two-year absence.

While the early signs of Westbrook's veteran experience and leadership are evident, with visuals of him coaching up his younger teammates from the sidelines and during games, offering a glimpse into the impact his energy and intensity has had on the team in his short time in DC.

"He [Westbrook] has the resume, mentally and physically, he's gifted. Just from a professional standpoint our work has been great every day, we haven't had that I promise you in my nine years being here," Bradley Beal said ahead of the season.

"It's a natural carryover, it's like contagious a lot of time. He forces that out of you, and that's what I love for me, because I don't have to be the vocal one all the time."

On the floor, Westbrook is doing what he does best, stuffing the stat sheet and piling up triple-doubles for fun, picking up his third of the season in their 115-107 loss to the Chicago Bulls, finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists, tying his season highs in points and rebounds.

Westbrook has now recorded a triple-double in all three games he's played this season and becomes just the second player in NBA history to record a triple-double in each of his first three games of a season, joining Oscar Robertson.

While Westbrook is doing his thing, through four games of the young season, the Wizards are yet to record a victory and remain as one of four teams (Pistons 0-4, Raptors 0-3, Rockets 0-2) yet to get on the board in 2020-21.

"It's a tough time, but you gotta figure it out, especially for myself," Westbrook said following their loss to the Bulls.

"I really, really hate losing so it's tough for me to kinda reset. But as being a leader, you can't lead just when things are going well. You have to lead when things aren't going your way."

During his tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder, especially in the post-Durant years, they needed every one of those triple-doubles from Westbrook as he dragged them into the post-season each year, albeit earning the same result - a first-round exit.

More notably, when Westbrook recorded a triple-double, the Thunder more often than not won the game. Since 2016-17, his first of three-straight seasons averaging a triple-double, OKC held a 76-25 (.752) record.

Westbrook triple-double results since 2016-17

Year Team Triple-Doubles Record Win %
2016-17 Thunder 42 33-9 .785
2017-18 Thunder 25 20-5 .800
2018-19 Thunder 34 23-11 .676
2019-20 Rockets 8 5-3 .625
2020-21 Wizards 3 0-3 .000

It's very early in the season, so any reaction to the Wizards' struggles at this point must be taken with a grain of salt, as they continue to build chemistry around their new-look star duo of Westbrook and Beal.

Beal has been spectacular to start the season, averaging 32 points per game, good for third in the NBA, while Westbrook is putting up 19 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 12.7 assists per game, ranking third in rebounding and second in assists.

Westbrook's shooting has room for improvement at 41.4 percent from the field and just 10 percent from the 3-point line on 3.3 attempts per game.

Their next two games offer an opportunity to build some momentum as they take on the Bulls again on Friday and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, before a tough stretch of games against the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat.

It's still early in the season, but the games are piling up thick and fast, and the Wizards will need to find their rhythm sooner rather than later in an Eastern Conference that is as competitive as ever.

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