Triple Doubles don’t mean much these days

“Get me on the court and I’m trouble. Last week, messed around and got a triple-double!”

Raise your hand if you know the name of the song that I just quoted and if you don’t then you don’t know rap music.


Speaking of triple-doubles, is it just me or do you think that NBA triple-doubles are over-hyped? I had a conversation with a friend yesterday, and we were debating why James Harden deserves the MVP, and his 60-point triple-double this season.

It was then that I had the revelation that triple-doubles are no longer an aberration.

Thanks to YouTube highlights and ESPN hype machines, we canonize the triple-double, but has anyone noticed how frequently they occur today?

For those of you that don’t know, the triple-double is more commonly defined as the accumulation of double-digit points, assists, and rebounds in a single basketball game.

To me, the triple-double is like the new iPhone that’s being released.  When Apple promotes it, you and I clamor over it, claiming that we have to have this new shiny thing. It seems so esoteric, and you just KNOW that once you have it, you’ll be the coolest person around, showing off its new features. Three months later, everybody has the same phone as you do, and it doesn’t feel so special anymore does it?

That is the essence of the triple-double. Let me explain.


Every year the number of players securing triple-doubles has exponentially increased with the exception of the 2016-2017 outlier. (Russell Westbrook dropped 42 triple-doubles that season, which is insane.) But the triple-double surge is real- this year alone, four rookies combined for 16. That’s up fifteen from the prior season. It’s nuts when you really think about it.

Why are they becoming so prevalent?

There are several factors that may contribute to the sharp rise in the once elusive triple-double.

  1. The league is becoming faster, as teams transition into three-ball heavy shooting squads, and up-tempo offenses. I’m not going to pretend to be a data scientist for basketball but per ESPN, the pace is at an all-time high of 97.3, and the league average points per game (106.3) have not been this high since 1990-91, which was the Showtime era, in which Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers ran the league.
  2. The evolution of the three-pointer: More threes shot=longer rebounds= players on the perimeter are likely to catch these.
  3. The evolution of the three-pointer in big men has also led to less congestion in the lane because defenses and big men shooters like Draymond Green and Kevin Love are now spread out.

Ok whew. Felt like a blog boy for a second quoting all those analytics, but serious props to the guys who average a triple-double throughout an entire season like Westbrook, or the NBA Finals like Lebron James last year.

That requires skill, hard work, and dedication to AVERAGE one, but I can no longer surround myself with the complicity of triple-double worship. When Markelle Fultz gets one a night against the tanking Milwaukee Bucks or Lonzo Ball puts up one playing the lowly Phoenix Suns, why does this warrant praise?

If you want to impress me, give me something new. Swap the assists for blocks, or rebounds for steals, bolstering the defensive side of the league. The triple-double is nothing to sniff your nose at, but at the exponentially elevating rate that it’s going, it’s just going to become the norm, it isn’t already for NBA premiere players.

Remember when going to college and getting your bachelor’s degree was all you needed in life? Now more and more Americans due to market and social pressures feel the need to go on to get their Masters, and Ph. D just to land a second interview!

Don’t let your eyes fool you.

The triple-double is antiquated, just like your six-month-old “new iPhone”, and your bachelor’s degree sitting in your closet, collecting dust.

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