2016, Basketball, Sports

Triple Doubles

Draymond Green is two blocks away from being the first player in NBA history to record 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks in a single season, since steals and blocks were recorded. That’s big news.

But I’m fascinated by how close he’s been this year to a triple double: 13.8PPG, 9.7RPG, 7.5APG. I mean, that’s just bonkers. Provided he keeps it up, only Wilt, Oscar, Bird, Grant Hill, Magic, Havlicek and Fat Lever have ever done that before. (Green is, unsurprisingly, the lowest scoring of all of those guys.)

Famously, Oscar Robertson is the only player to ever average a triple double over an entire season, but he did it during a different era: those ’62 Royals took 8,400 shots and made about 45% of them. Last year’s Kings (same franchise) took 6,600 shots, making just a little bit more of them. Oscar’s feat was extremely impressive, but it’s easier to accomplish when there are more rebounds available and more baskets made.

Oscar’s per 36 minutes stats for that year are a little bit more human: 25P, 9.2A, 10.1R. Compare that to Draymond’s per 36 this season: 14.3P, 7.8A, 10.1R. Draymond and Oscar are the only two players in NBA history to have ever done this over one season.

Draymond’s numbers look even better if you normalize them over 100 possessions. Unfortunately, Oscar’s landmark season occurred before possession information was accurately tracked, so we can’t compare the two of them. But Grant Hill is the only other player in NBA history to do what Draymond is doing this season, at least 15 points, 13 boards and 10 assists per 100 possessions. Not only is that a useful reminder of how great Grant Hill was, but it just goes to show that this is a remarkable, once in a generation accomplishment. Right?

Nope. That arbitrarily high rebound threshold excludes a number of all time great players, mostly guards (shockingly). If reduce the qualifier to 15 points, 10 boards and 10 assists we get two seasons from LeBron (1 in Miami, 1 in the early Cleveland days), three seasons from Magic, that same Grant Hill season, five seasons from Jason Kidd (Jesus tapdancing Christ) and two from Russell Westbrook, including this season. Westbrook is scoring twice as many points as Draymond while putting up nearly as gaudy rebound numbers and superior assist numbers. Despite my love of Draymond, Westbrook is having a far superior season, at least from the perspective of pseudo triple doubles.

In fact, Westbrook is having such a season for the ages that nobody else touches the combination of scoring and passing since possession data became available. LeBron and Hill have both managed to pull off the 30-10-10 per 100 possessions, like Westbrook is doing this year and did last year as well, but Westbrook’s 14.9 assists per 100 possessions this season (and even his 12.5 assists per 100 last season) far outstrip Hill’s 10.5, or LeBron’s 10.4.

Westbrook’s performance is incredible and makes my swooning over Draymond earlier seem rather foolish. And I hope, in this smarter NBA, we can celebrate true, normalized triple double seasons at least as much as we celebrate ones that were creations of their era.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.