The Lost Art of the Triple Double

    Rajon Rondo’s fantastic night against the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls was only the sixth triple double this season by an NBA player, with Rondo going for 32 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. He is the first player this year to notch multiple triple double games, which seem to be more and more of a rarity these days. had an interesting infographic made last month, just after Kyle Lowry got the second triple double of the season. Rondo, on January 1, before going down with an injury, got the first.

    There’s an obvious trend here, but it seems to me that there’s one main factor – Magic Johnson isn’t in the league anymore. Johnson averaged 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 11.2 assists per game throughout his career, and was very close to Oscar Robertson’s entire season triple double average a couple of times. His 138 career TD are second all time.

    Jason Kidd getting older also hurt the numbers. Kidd’s 107 are the most among active players, but scoring in double digits is a hard thing for him these days, with only 4.3 points per game so far this season and shooting a pathetic 29.5% from the field.

    Image: Source


    Next in line among active players? LeBron James. LeBron looks like a natural candidate to become the league’s triple double king, and has 32 notched up since he arrived in 2003, although that means, with 0 so far this season, that he’s averaging about 4.5 a year. He’ll probably finish below that mark this season, with 38 games left to play.

    What’s even rarer, and who knows when we’ll see one again, is the Quadruple-double, which has been seen only four times in NBA history. Nate Thurmond, the first player to finish with a QD, explained beautifully why is it so hard to achieve – The reason why QD is such a hard thing to accomplish is because it requires a player to be completely dominant on both ends of the court without being too selfish—so he can get the assists—and without fouling out trying to block every shot or grab every rebound.

    A lot of guys can get the points, rebounds and assists, but it’s the defensive stuff that messes everybody up. You have to love defense to get a quadruple-double. There’s no way around it.

    Alvin Robertson in 1986, Hakeem Olajuwon in 1990 and David Robinson in 1996 are the other three. Blocks and steals were only first recorded in 1973-1974, and there’s a very good chance that Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and others made the nearly impossible a more common thing during the 1960’s. Still, even getting close is extremely hard – Clyde Drexler was the last player, in 1996, to finish with a triple double and a 9 in the fourth category.

    Another statistical achievement that hasn’t been seen in quite some time is the Five-by-Five, which has happened 14 times, done by seven players. Hakeem Olajuwon made it happen six times, more than anyone else. Andrei Kirilenko did it three times, including the last five-by-five, with a stat line of 14 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 6 steals and 7 blocks. I’m betting on Dwight Howard or Andre Iguodala to be the next players to accomplish the five-by-five, which was actually a five-by-six, something that has happened only twice in the history of the NBA.