The double-double has become a standard in today’s NBA game. If you’re to be an All-NBA Teamer, you almost have to average one. Four of the five first teamers averaged double-doubles, with the only exception being Dirk Nowitzki. KG, a 2nd team member, also averaged a double-double. If the Wolves don’t flop as badly as they did, Garnett may have replaced Dirk on the 1st team, but we’re not here to take anything away from anyone. The point is that the great players do and almost always have averaged a double-double. Wilt, Kareem, Russell, Malone. They all did it. Clearly there are exceptions, most notably, His Airness, but for the most part they all score and pass or rebound.
The triple-double is yet another feat of basketball greatness and no one did it better than Oscar Robertson. He’s the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a whole season, and will probably be the last. There are more teams now and the game has changed over the past 20 years. Just like Wilt droppin’ a hundo, Big O’s record will probably stand for a very, very long time, if not for eternity. Guys like Jason Kidd and the pre-injury Grant Hill have been the guys over the past 10 years who have messed around and got a triple double most frequently. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were the big dogs after O and Wilt left the game. KG, LeBron, Kobe, and C-Webb are guys who are triple-double threats every night because of the skills they each possess. The triple-double has sort of becomes a personal achievement for many players. Guys like Bob Sura and Ricky Davis were so desperate to attain that stat that they embarrassed themselves and the game by trying to get theirs outside of the rules of the game. They’re idiots, so it’s sad for the game, but not so much for them.
There is another level to this, which is where this whole rant is headed; the rare and amazing quadruple-double. This freak of statistical nature has only been accomplished four times since the NBA started tracking steals and blocks (1974). Nate Thurmond did it in that year, Alvin Robertson did it in 1986, Hakeem Olajuwon did it in 1990, and David Robinson did it in 1994. Thurmond, The Dream, and The Admiral did it with points, rebound, assists, and blocks. Alvin Robertson replaced blocks with steals. I watched Hakeem get his and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever watched. I only hope that the next time it happens I’ll be watching.
So who's got a shot? Who should I be watching?
I decided to break players down into three categories. Players in their prime, players past their prime, and players on the rise.
Players in their prime – These are the guys most likely to do it now.
Kevin Garnett (22.6ppg 13.1rpg 5.4apg last five seasons)
KG has been the man over the past 5 years. He became the first player since Bill Russell to lead the league in total points and total rebounds in 2002. He led the league in double-doubles last year with 69 – that’s 84% of the games he played in. He’s recorded 16 triple-doubles in his career and has fallen one assist or rebound short countless times. He’s a threat to do it on any given night. KG recorded 7 steals in a game and has blocked 8 shots twices. He’s probably not going to do it with steals, but on a special night he could accomplish a quad with blocks.
Games to watch – Jan 25 vs. Memphis, Feb 10 vs. Utah They get their shots rejected more frequently than any other teams
Tim Duncan (22.7ppg 12.3rpg 3.4apg 2.63bpg .75spg)
TD has been Mr. Consistancy throughout this career. He’s averaged a double-double every year, but has only collected two triple-doubles. Although he may not be a nightly threat to mess around, he’s the kind of player that is capable of exploding and having a special night. Duncan probably won’t do it with steals, but he’s a shot blocking machine. He clearly can score and rebound, so all Timmy would need would be for Manu or Parker to get hot when the Spurs are playing a lot of inside-out basketball. He grew up in the mold of D-Rob, so he’s got the magic, and he knows how to play the game better than anyone in the game right now. Plus, five times he’s recorded 8 blocks!
Games to watch – Jan 24 vs. Charlotte, Feb 8 vs. Toronto Both these teams are among the worst in the league in opponent apg, opponent fg%, and getting their shots blocked.
Allen Iverson (29.6ppg 4rpg 6.6apg .16bpg 2.53spg)
Since moving over to the point guard position, AI’s career has taken yet another step. Not only is he a threat to drop 60 on a team, but he’ll do it handing out 12 assists too. As he’s matured, he’s gotten better and better. He wears out his defenders on the offensive end, then takes advantage of their fatigue on the defensive end. The Answer hasn’t ever blocked more than 13 shots in any given season, but he’s averaged over 2spg game his entire career and has had two games in which he’s had 9 steals.
Games to watch – Mar 8 vs. Boston, Mar 22 vs. Atlanta They are the worst and third worst teams in tpg and opponent spg
Dwayne Wade (21.9ppg 5rpg 6.1apg .8bpg 1.61spg)
It probably wasn’t a surprise that he is as good as he is, but certainly the Heat thought they might have to wait a year or two. They were wrong. D-Wade would’ve been ROY if he’d been in a draft class that didn’t include LeBron. He’s only been in the league three years but he’s already a triple-double threat every night. He’s got one this season and has a handful of near misses. With Shaq protecting the basket, Wade can take more chances on the wings and stay in passing lanes to pick up steals. He’s not going to block 10 shots in a game, but don’t count him out before you’ve checked your wallet. What I mean, is the boy is a thief! He’s had two games in which he’s picked six pockets.
Games to watch – Feb 6 vs. Boston, Feb 27 vs. Toronto Both teams are towards the bottom in tpg and opponent ppg.
Players past their prime – The guys whose best days are probably behind them
Jason Kidd (15.8ppg 6.9rpg 9apg .24bpg 2.03spg)
For the past 10 years, Kidd’s been the king of the triple-double, collecting 67 of them in his career – 29 in a Nets uniform. He’s probably the best rebounding guard in the NBA and is one of the premier passers the game has ever seen. Although his best days are probably behind him, he’s still capable of the quad, especially against a poor passing team. He’s had 6 steals in 18 games over his career. I for one believe there’s still some gas in the tank.
Chris Webber (21.5ppg 9.8rpg 4.7apg 1.08bpg 1.49spg)
Regardless of his ability to call timeouts at the correct times, C-Webb is a solid, all around basketball player. He does a fair amount of everything and has recorded 22 triple-doubles during his tenure in the NBA. Webber’s entire career has been marred by injuries and he certainly isn’t getting any younger, but with the scoring load lightened, he just may be able to focus more on the rest of his game. He had 9 blocks in a game and has had 8 steals in two games.
Grant Hill (17.8ppg 5.8rpg 3.6apg .39bpg 1.21spg)
Clearly his best years are behind him, but he showed last season that he’s still got some game. Before his 3 year ankle injury shattered his career – no pun intended – he was putting up LeBron James type numbers (26ppg 6rpg 6apg). In those six seasons Hill had 29 triple-doubles and was considered by many to be the most complete player in the game. He would need a magical night like, say, the 1991 All-Star game – pun definitely intended – but there is still a slim chance Grant Hill could do it. He’s had 6 steals in multiple games and has blocked four shots in a handful as well.
Antoine Walker (18.1ppg 7.4rpg 4.2apg .58bpg 1.15spg)
Some of you may think I’m crazy for talking about Toine seriously here, but hear me out. On Miami, it’s not possible, unless he becomes the #1 or #2 option on the team. He would also have to have the offense run through him. I’d say he’d have to end up with Paul Pierce again, to have a shot, but he’s a pretty good all-around player, minus shooting percentage and shot selection. Walker has recorded four triple-doubles in his career and would get more in a place like Toronto or Atlanta. He’s had 4 blocks in 6 games over his career and he picked six pockets in a game a few years ago. I know, it’s a long shot, but he’s got the skill set.
Players on the rise – These are future candidates
Chris Paul (16.1ppg 5.8rpg 7.2apg.03bpg 2.22spg)
Imagine if Jason Kidd was a rookie again. Okay? That’s Chris Paul. He certainly surprised a lot of people with how quickly he developed into a game changing player. Everyone knew he was NBA ready, but not this NBA ready. He’s so quick it’s hard for other players to keep up, especially when he’s playing defense. As he gets older, expect his game-high 5 steals to get closer to 10. If the Hornets keep building around him, I expect he’ll be recording triple-doubles by the bunches.
Andre Iguodala (10ppg 5.7rpg 2.9apg .5pbg 1.66spg)
Hey! I can see you glaring at me. This kid is solid. He’s a great role-type player that’s beginning to turn into a game changer. He’s a great defender, he gets out on the break, and he’s becoming a better offensive player. He recorded a triple-double last season – as a rookie. He is the only player in Pac-10 history to record more than one triple double in a season with 3. Jason Kidd had 4 in one year at Cal as well. He’s probably the farthest away from it, but keep an eye on him because he’s capable of filling up a box score quickly.
Dwight Howard (12.8ppg 10.8rpg 1apg 1.6bpg .92spg)
He’s 20. He’s in his second season and he’s going to average another double-double. Howard may be slight of frame but the kid can play in the post, on both sides of the ball. If he can develop into a better passer and when the offense starts to go through him, he’ll have a shot at it. He had 7 blocks in a game last season. People will always challenge him at the rim because he’s not a behemoth, but he’s a very good defender who will only get better with age.
LeBron James (25.3ppg 6.5rpg 6.5apg .7bpg 1.87spg)
Many of you are probably asking why I put Dwayne Wade on the ‘Now’ list instead of LeBron. Two reasons. The first is Shaquille O’neal. Ilgauskas is not nearly as intimidating as Shaq is, thus giving Wade the ability to take more chances in the passing lanes out on the wings. The second reason is that Wade is a better defender. The four years he spent in college helped prepare him to play the defense that he does. LeBron is probably capable now, but in a year or two he’ll probably be the most likely to accomplish the quad. He’s certainly good enough, but as his defense and team improve, so will his chances. 7 steals one game, 5 blocks the next, Bron-Bron will eventually be the best player in the league, if he’s not already.
What’s next!? Quintuple-double!? Naw, You Serious!?
Andrei Kirilenko (13.6ppg 6.3rpg 2.4apg 2.5bpg 1.62spg)
The Russian assassin. AK-47. Dr. Dre. Call him what you want but, in the words of Stuart Scott, call him money! When he’s healthy, he’s as dangerous as anyone. He’s not going to drop 60 on you, but he’ll put the ball back in your face 10 times and dish out 10 dimes. Other than block shots, he doesn’t do a lot of anything, but he does do a fair amount of everything. He just became the first Russian to record a triple-double in the NBA and trust me, it will not be his last. As the Jazz continue to build this team, AK will become a constant threat to go Ice Cube on anyone. The keys for him will be staying healthy and staying on management to keep him surrounded with good players. He’s had 3 games in which he’s blocked 8 shots, and recorded 8 steals in a game in 2003. Don’t count LeBron out here either, assuming this ever happens.
Realistically, someone will complete the quadruple-double again and, as realistically, no one will probably complete the quintuple-double, but it doesn’t mean it’s not fun to think about. It’s too bad that assists and blocks weren’t recorded before 1974 because I’d bet that Wilt and Russell probably did have a couple of quads each. What would be really amazing would be to see a double-triple. 100 points and 100 rebounds in a game. Maybe could’ve happened back in Wilt’s day, but probably not in the days of Shaq. Oh well, we can always dream.
I'd say it was a good day...