No Kevin Durant, no problem for Russell Westbrook

While it's true that everyone knew that it would be the Russell Westbrook show in Oklahoma City once Kevin Durant left for the Golden State Warriors, few would have predicted it would be this good of a show. The curtain closed on the dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook, but re-opened with Russell Westbrook as the star -- and he has certainly delivered.

Monster game for Russell Westbrook against the Suns

Throughout his career so far, Russell Westbrook has always been a triple-double threat. He can shoot, pass the ball, and rebound with anyone in the league, and he has become something of a triple-double machine, with the possibility always there so long as he is laced up and out on the floor.

With Kevin Durant out on the floor with him, Russell Westbrook didn't get as many touches as he may have liked, as trying to share the ball between 2 of the top 5 players in the league that just so happen to be on the same team is a tall order for anyone.

This season, however, with Durant gone and the Oklahoma City Thunder solely Westbrook's team, his numbers have skyrocketed, and nowhere was that more apparent than in a 114-101 victory at home against the Phoenix Suns that saw Westbrook put in 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 22 assists.

On top of this being Russell Westbrook's 13th triple-double of the season, with his 20+ points and 20+ assists in a single game, he also joins another of the game's greats.

It has been 18 long seasons since a triple-double was recorded in the league that included 20+ points and 20+ assists. Along with this, Westbrook also becomes the first player since Magic Johnson in 1988 to have a triple-double of more than 25 points and 20+ assists. Even with all of these accolades, however, perhaps what is most impressive is that Westbrook managed to fill up his stat line in only 34 minutes of play.

Can Russell Westbrook's heroics save the Thunder's season?

There is another side to this coin, however. As much as number 0 may bolster his own career stats this season, the question is whether those high individual numbers will ultimately translate into team wins. Currently, the Thunder occupy the 7th slot in the highly competitive Western Conference at (16-11).

This is certainly a respectable record well above .500, to be sure. The question becomes, however, if this is a sustainable model of play in the long term.

We saw the same thing play out when LeBron James had no help during his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and we saw it earlier than that when Shaquille O'Neal left the Los Angeles Lakers and they officially became Kobe's team following their 2004 loss in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons. While yes, individual numbers will skyrocket, the team game can also suffer, as everyone gets caught watching a LeBron James, a Kobe Bryant, and a Russell Westbrook, and forgets to run their offense.

So, while Westbrook deserves all the credit for his phenomenal game, he's going to need more than an Enes Kanter and a Steven Adams if the Oklahoma City Thunder hope to make (and compete in) the Playoffs this year.

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