VIDEO: Relive Russell Westbrook’s 14 triple-double this season
By Ben Leibowitz, Special to NBA.com
For the NBA players who sputtered through shooting slumps over the past seven days, NCAA March Madness diverting basketball fans’ collective eyeballs was probably a good thing.
Though Russell Westbrook has been playing at an MVP-caliber level of late, his efficiency from a scoring perspective left something to be desired. He was the surprise candidate pegged in PointAfter’s breakdown of the week’s coldest shooters, featuring interactive data visualizations.
Note: Statistics in this article cover games from March 18-24.
Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
By racking up a league-leading 15 triple-doubles so far this season — including an unbelievable six in March — Russell Westbrook has established himself as the NSCMVP (non-Stephen Curry MVP) frontrunner.
But while Westbrook’s most recent week featured three triple-doubles (on March 18, 19 and 22), he was woefully inefficient as a scorer. He made 35.7 percent of his shots overall and went 0-for-7 from beyond the arc in the March 22 win over the Houston Rockets.
The ferocious floor general remains one of the game’s truly elite talents, but scoring efficiency wasn’t his strong suit over the past seven days (four games played).
Wing: Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors
Two Toronto Raptors were vying for this notorious spot over the past seven days. Although Terrence Ross was ultimately the choice, his volume-shooting teammate, DeMar DeRozan, was in the running after consecutive games missing 10 of 16 field goals.
Ross, typically a reliable sharpshooter from distance, was ice cold from 3-point territory over his last three contests. He made 3-for-15 attempts for a paltry 3-point percentage of 20 percent.
Remember, this a guy who exploded for 51 points in a game two seasons ago. He hasn’t flashed elite scoring potential since. Throughout the 2015-16 season, Ross has scored 20 or more points just three times.
To be sure, he’s had his role reduced and he still hits 38.2 percent of his treys overall, but he didn’t shoot the ball well this week. In the March 23 loss against the Boston Celtics, Ross finished 5-for-18.
Forward/Center: Alex Len, Phoenix Suns
Alex Len has put together some solid performances for Phoenix during an otherwise abysmal season in the desert. He went for 20 points and 14 rebounds in early December against the Orlando Magic, then hung 31 points and 15 rebounds on Orlando in early March (perhaps he just really doesn’t like Mickey Mouse).
The last seven days were not kind to the youngster, however, as he didn’t make even 40 percent of his shots in any of his three outings. Those would be ugly shooting percentages for a guard, but Len is a 7-foot-1 center. That’s completely inexcusable for a guy his size, especially since two Suns games this week were played against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.
There were some expectations placed on Len prior to the season that he would become more of a stretch 4 who could step out and shoot threes. He’s made just 1-for-7 attempts beyond the arc throughout the 2015-16 campaign.
The youngster clearly needs to focus on his scoring abilities inside the arc before Phoenix can even think about pivoting the 22-year-old to a role that includes shooting from downtown.
This article was originally published on PointAfter, a partner of NBA.com.
Ben Leibowitz is a writer for PointAfter, a sports data aggregation and visualization website that’s part of the Graphiq network. Visit PointAfter to get all the information about NBA Players, NBA Historical Teams and dozens of other topics.