Russell Westbrook just passed Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles for a player over a career. This is a great achievement for Russell Westbrook because he accomplished a feat that nobody had a chance of doing. After all, Oscar Robertson is one of the game's greatest players and his ability to rack up triple-double statistics was his most famed accomplishment.
With Westbrook passing Robertson in triple-doubles, does that mean he also passed him on the all-time player's list? Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook are the two greatest triple-double threats ever but it is time to compare their careers, accolades, and impact as all-time players.
Scoring - Russell Westbrook
In terms of offense, this is close to call. Much of the younger generation might leap to Russel Westbrook in terms of pure offensive firepower, but Oscar was unstoppable in his day. That is why this attribute is closer than many think, although the edge still goes to Westbrook because he has 2 scoring titles.
Westbrook has a career average of 23.2 PPG, but Oscar holds an average slightly higher with a 25.7 PPG average. Westbrook's highest-scoring season came in 2017 when he averaged 31.6 PPG, while Oscar's came in 1964 when he averaged 31.4 PPG. But in the playoffs, Westbrook holds a career of 24.8 PPG against Oscar's 22.2 PPG. Oscar Robertson never led the league in scoring, which ultimately gives Westbrook the edge.
Athleticism - Russell Westbrook
In terms of pure athleticism, Russell Westbrook has to take the edge. Westbrook is 6'3" and weighs 200lbs, which is a great size for a point guard. Most importantly, Westbrook is the most explosive point guard in the history of the NBA. No player matches speed and hops like Westbrook and it is his athleticism that gives him an edge every night.
Oscar was also a tremendous athlete, standing 6’5” and weighing 205 lbs. Oscar was larger than Westbrook but he did not have the former Oklahoma City man’s explosiveness or hops. Anytime there is a comparison on athleticism that involves Westbrook, Russell will always win the debate.
Defense - Oscar Robertson
Russell Westbrook has tremendous physical gifts, which makes him a threat at quickly playing passing lanes. Westbrook averaged 1.7 SPG and 0.3 BPG over his career and can handle most point guards and shooting guards on defense. The only issue is Westbrook's inconsistency when playing on-ball defense.
Oscar was a more consistent defender. He was taller than Westbrook and gambled a lot less when he played. Oscar knew that his team required a major effort from him on most nights and he often stepped up to the plate. Oscar has career averages of 1.1 SPG and 0.1 BPG, although defensive statistics were recorded in his final season. Overall, Robertson has the edge over Westbrook.
Clutch - Oscar Robertson
Russell Westbrook is a man of many qualities, but his ability in the clutch has come under question on occasion. Westbrook isn't an efficient shooter from the field, averaging only 43.8% from the field and 30.5% from three so that often means his jump shooting in critical moments isn't an asset for his team. Not to mention, Westbrook is known to commit costly turnovers down the stretch of games.
Oscar Robertson was very close to being recognized as the best player during his time, a feat that Russell Westbrook never accomplished. One reason was that Robertson's versatility proved its value in crunch time. Oscar shot 48.5% from the field over his career, making him a better player in the clutch than Westbrook.
Leadership - Oscar Robertson
Both Westbrook and Robertson have been the best players on their teams and led by their work ethic and dominance on the court. Therefore, leadership needs to be judged on how the superstar overcomes adversity and performs in the biggest moments.
As a leader, the edge has to go to Oscar Robertson. Oscar was the "Michael Jordan" of his time, and a lot of that has to do with his leadership. Oscar kept everyone involved, knew when to score, and was extremely consistent. Westbrook was a tremendous leader for the Oklahoma City Thunder as he carried the franchise after Kevin Durant left, but he has still not been able to get it done in the biggest moments.
Basketball I.Q. - Oscar Robertson
Both players are some of the most versatile stars to have ever played the point guard position. Russell Westbrook gets a ton of criticism for being a turnover machine and an inefficient shooter, but he is a great playmaker who doesn't mind setting up teammates. Westbrook knows the game and is a superstar on offense, but he can sometimes be out of control.
Oscar was a much more controlled player and his calm ability on the ball was a major reason he led the league in assists 6 times and also won an NBA title. Oscar and Westbrook are both players with heavy usage rates, but Oscar was a more controlled point guard and has the edge.
Impact - Russell Westbrook
Out of respect for Westbrook's raw athleticism and ability to rack up triple-doubles in extraordinary fashion, he gets the edge over Oscar in impact. Oscar was a better leader and a greater clutch performer, but Westbrook impacts a game with his rebounding and assists better than any point guard ever.
That is why many claim that Westbrook would be the greatest player ever if he could tune his mental intangibles and also develop a consistent jumper. While he doesn't come close to that, it is still a testament to his impact on the court. Robertson was a greater all-around player, but Westbrook does a bit more on the stat sheet and more on the court.
1 on 1 Game - Russell Westbrook
In terms of one-on-one play, Russell Westbrook is unstoppable. No defender can stay in front of him, and he can get to the rack anytime he wants. Since he came into the league, Westbrook is at his best when he attacks the rim. Even though Westbrook is an inconsistent shooter, % for his career, he dominates any one-on-one matchup.
Oscar had incredible handles and size which gave him an advantage every night, and his threat as a passer and scorer made him an unstoppable offensive force. Robertson was a superstar on that end but Westbrook's explosiveness gives him a physical edge every night which makes a difference in the end.
Career - Oscar Robertson
The most difficult attribute to gauge is the career of two Hall of Famers who played the same position. Both players have won an MVP Award, and are multiple-time All-Stars. The difference lies in the team's success.
Russell Westbrook does not have an NBA title, and he has only made 1 NBA Finals appearance alongside Kevin Durant and James Harden. Westbrook also has not made a Conference Finals since Durant left his side, even when playing with superstar players such as prime James Harden and Paul George. On the other end, Oscar won an NBA title in 1971 at 32 years of age.
Not to mention, Oscar has more impressive accolades. Oscar made a whopping 9 All-NBA First Team appearances to go along with 12 All-Star appearances while Westbrook only has 2 All-NBA First Team appearances with 9 All-Star appearances. Westbrook won 2 scoring titles, but Oscar led the league in assists 6 times while also winning Rookie of the Year. Overall, Westbrook has the edge in scoring titles but Oscar usurps him with more important accolades including an NBA title.
Russell Westbrook vs. Oscar Robertson 4-5
This is a tough comparison because it can go either way, and the comparisons are awfully close because there are arguments from both sides. But Oscar Robertson is a greater all-around player. Westbrook might have passed him for most all-time triple-doubles, but that is only a very small part of the game. Oscar was a better leader, a champion, and a more accomplished star than Westbrook and he earns the edge in the ultimate player comparison.