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Fantasy Basketball 2015: Russell Westbrook, DeAndre Jordan And Dominance

Russell Westbrook and DeAndre Jordan are flirting with history.

Russell Westbrook

Many people in the sports world make bold proclamations.

“Player X is a future Hall of Famer.” “This guy is elite.” You know the types of statements I’m talking about. That one guy who is watching a player dominate, and because of his recent stretch of games, anoints him as the best player in the league. And it’s understandable. Human nature suggests that we become infatuated with players who continue to post other-worldly numbers, and sometimes, we put them atop the pedestal.

Right now, Russell Westbrook is at the top of the NBA pedestal.

Ridicu-Russ

During the month of February, Westbrook is posting video game numbers, averaging 31.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 10.3 assists. I mean, come on. That’s just stupid. The only other player in the history of basketball to post at least 30/10/8 in a month? You guessed it. Mr. Oscar Robertson. And over his last five games, he’s averaging a full triple-double. Now, obviously, these huge games have come with Kevin Durant out of the lineup, nursing a foot injury. But still, triple-doubles aren’t exactly easy to accomplish, and Westbrook is making it look easy. After posting 40/13/11 on Friday night, Russ has now posted a triple-double in three consecutive games, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat since 2009 (LeBron James). And over the last 20 years, he joins LeBron, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill as the only players to post three-straight triple-doubles in a season. He now has four triple-doubles in the month of February alone, which is more than any other player has all season long. Usage has been huge for Westbrook all season long, who leads the NBA in that department.

Russ Usage

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Wesbtrook is flirting with history in terms of usage. If the season ended today, his 37.6 percent usage rate would rank fourth all-time. The highest usage rate in the history of basketball is 38.7, compliments of Kobe Bryant back in 2005. No player has ever posted a rate of 40, a number Westbrook has actually seen a handful of times this season. With Durant off the floor, Westbrook’s usage rate climbs all the way to a whopping 44.1. He’s been getting good looks when scoring, too, averaging a healthy 9.4 drives per game, which ranks 12th in the entire NBA, scoring 7.1 points per game when attacking the basket. That means that 26 percent of his points being scored this season are coming off of drives.

But it’s not just his scoring that’s been impressive.

On the season, Westbrook is averaging 8.1 assists per game, the fifth-best number in basketball. And his 18.7 points per game created off of assists ranks sixth in the league, too. And, as Basketball Reference points out, no player in the league is sporting a higher assist percentage than Russell Westbrook (48.1%). So basically, every time Westbrook has the basketball, he’s more than likely going to accumulate some sort of fantasy point. As NBAwowy points out, he’s averaging an insane 1.45 fantasy points per minute this season, which puts him atop the NBA. And, in case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s where Russ ranks in terms of some statistics this year.

-Points per game: 26.5 (2nd)

-Assists per game: 8.1 (5th)

-Steals per game: 2.04 (2nd)

-PER (Player Efficiency Rating): 29.43 (2nd)

-Triple doubles: Five (1st)

-Field goals made per game: 9.0 (4th)

-Free throws made per game: 7.5 (2nd)

-Rebounds per game: 6.8 (1st among PG)

Just a few weeks ago, I was sold on James Harden being my MVP of the NBA season. But due to Russ’ recent stretch of games this month, he’s clearly made a case for himself, making this one of the closest races for the award that I can remember.

DeAndre The Glass Eater

While Westbrook is soaking up the headlines, out in Los Angeles, DeAndre Jordan is putting together quite the month of February himself. With Blake Griffin banged up, Jordan has stepped up in a huge way, averaging an awesome 16 points, 17.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game this month. During that span, he’s accumulated at least 15 rebounds in all but three games, and has grabbed at least 20 boards in four of the 11 games. Jordan has always been capable of putting up these types of numbers, especially when you look at the chances he’s had of accumulating rebounds over the course of the season.

Rebounding

Among those near 20 chances per game, Jordan is recovering 72.6 percent of rebounds, which is first among qualified players in the league. And an impressive feat is that nearly seven of his rebounds per game have been contested ones, too. While Jordan isn’t doing quite what Westbrook is doing this season, he does rank very highly in certain categories as well.

-Rebounds per game: 14.2 (1st)

-Blocks per game: 2.32 (4th)

-Field goal percentage: .720 (1st)

-Double-doubles: 31 (7th)

As for the field goal percentage, Jordan is actually flirting with history, as Wilt Chamberlain currently sports the highest percentage ever over the course of a season (.727). Of course, he could be one of the worst free throw shooters, not just in the league, but in the history of the game, but we’ll let that slide. His defense has improved quite a bit, too. Sure, he’s always been a shot-blocker, but that doesn’t always translate to being a good defender. This season, opponents are only attempting 30.9 percent of their field goals in the restricted area when Jordan is on the court, compared to nearly 40 percent when he’s off the floor. His defensive presence has been felt much more this season than in year’s past.

Both of these players have been so dominant in the month of February that I felt the need to dive into just how good they’ve been, especially Jordan, who gets less attention. It’s now the first of March, so it’ll be fun to see if they have any encore performances on the way.

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