Have Triple-Doubles Become Overrated?

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I remember only 4 or 5 seasons ago, a triple-double was considered a major accomplishment. It wasn’t a no-hitter, or a perfect passer rating, but nonetheless, it was something worthy of praise. Now, however, it doesn’t really seem to have the same kind of weight that it used to. Why is this?

There’s no question that the rate at which triple-doubles are occurring has increased drastically. In the 2013-14 season, the NBA leader in triple-doubles was none other than Lance Stephenson, who had 5. Compare that to last years leader, Russell Westbrook who had 34.

In 2012 there were a total of 18 triple-doubles with Rajon Rondo being the only player to accomplish the feat more than once; compare that to last season when there were a total of 127 triple-double and you see the story. In the last seven seasons, triple-doubles have increased 605% percent!

Oscar Robertson’s triple-double average in the 1961-62 season was deemed as a feat that would never be accomplished again, yet, Russell Westbrook did it the last three season, completely changing that narrative.

This season, we’re on pace to top over 100 triple-doubles again, with 21 already tallied not even a quarter into the season. Second-year player Luka Doncic has put up a triple-double in half of the games he’s played this season.

So, why is this?

Are players just that much better now?

I think there’s no question that there’s a lot of talent in the league, but the answer is no.

I think the biggest reason is how the game has changed. In the past, when a shot went up, the wings would fly down the court, the center and power forward would crash the board, and the point guard would be standing at about half-court, waiting for the outlet pass.

That isn’t the case anymore.

As we saw with the Thunder the last three seasons, often times it was Russell Westbrook crashing the defensive glass, and Steven Adams would even jump out of his way to let him do so. In the last 3 seasons, nearly all of his rebounds came on the defensive end, 84% to be exact, and that has a lot to do with the change in play.

Compare that to Andre Drummond who’s won 3 rebounding titles in 7 seasons, and you’ll see the difference; only 64% of his rebounds have come on the defensive end. This shows the typical rate of a true rebounder, with at least 30% of their rebounds coming on the offensive end.

If you look at Steven Adams however, you see that in 2 of the last 3 seasons, his offensive board production actually topped his defensive boards, something that is unheard of for starting centers. Do you think that has something to do with him gifting Russ all of his defensive rebounds?

I think so.

So do I think that the triple-double has become an overrated stat? Absolutely. 

Russell Westbrook showed us that much.

With NBA centers boxing out the opposing bigs, letting the little guards come in to snatch up defensive boards, getting 10 rebounds has never been easier. With players shooting threes at record amounts, how hard is it to pass it to a guy and for him to shoot a quick 3 and give you an easy assist?

Plain and simple, the modern NBA game has made getting a triple-double easier than ever, and made the statistic, overrated and empty.

Sorry Russ.

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