Two weeks ago, the New York Times published an article detailing the rapid decline of triple-doubles in the NBA. On Monday, Kyle Lowry went 16/10/10 against the Timberwolves, earning just the second triple-double of the season (Rajon Rondo earned the season’s first on January 1, 2012 against Washington).

Below is a visualization of how accurate the Times’ assertion actually is.


In the last 26 seasons, there have been 1,026 regular-season triple-doubles. The vast majority (974) were pts-rbd-ast triple-doubles, 47 were pts-rbd-blk triple-doubles, three were pts-ast-stl triple-doubles and two were pts-rbd-stl triple doubles.

The typical NBA season is 24 weeks long and yields an average of 41 triple-doubles each season, or 1.7 every week. This season has seen that average plummet to 0.4 trip-dubs each week.

If the two lockout seasons are removed in addition to the 21 triple-doubles earned in those two seasons, there are 1,005 triple doubles spread out over 24 seasons.

The largest outlier occurred in the 1997-98 season, the season before the lockout season. Despite playing almost 900 more games in 1998 than in 1999, the earlier season saw just two more triple-doubles. As suggested in the graphic above, a large number of players with a knack for earning triple deuces missed a fair amount of games that season, but enough to account for about half the number of triple doubles it should have had? Not likely. In 1997-98, the league averaged the seventh-worst ORtg and the eighth-best DRtg of the last 26 years, which also doesn’t truly account for the lapse. Alterations to league rules such as hand-checking (instituted a couple seasons earlier), or moving the three-point line back to its original position also don’t account for the dearth of triple-doubles in 1998, as the same effects were not seen in the seasons before or after. Perhaps that Bulls team was so good that it left opponents who had just faced them shattered for several games afterward or terrified for the five or six games leading up to it.

Frankly, that last theory makes the most sense.

  1. Jeremy says:

    at this point would you start Wes or Leandro for tonight’s games?

  2. Adam

    Adam says:

    @Jeremy: Barbosa.

  3. Gigantic Phil says:

    Need 3’s and FT%. Wondering if I should trade my Tyreke for his Bargs? Also, Michael Beasley is on waivers. Should I drop DUDley for him? Thanks.

    13 team redraft, TO’s count

    PG: Nash
    SG: Tyreke
    G: Gerald Henderson
    SF: Lebron
    PF: J Smoov
    F: James Johnson
    C: Hibbert
    C: Scola
    UTIL: Ridnour

    Bench: Marcus Thornton, Delfino, Dudley, Chuck Hayes

  4. Adam

    Adam says:

    @Gigantic Phil: If the other guy would do the trade, I’D do the trade. Also, I’d skip out on Beasley, at least until there’s a rough return date. He’s still not even traveling with the team.

  5. Marcus Thornton out two weeks. Got Brook Lopez off the wire last week. I guess I have to hold MT but would it make sense to drop Thornton for Manu since Ginobili should be back in about two weeks as well? Or drop Brook for a meh FA?

  6. Adam

    Adam says:

    @Now what?: I JUST read that. Is Thornton the worst guy on your team? 1-2 weeks isn’t THAT long to hold on for the leading scorer of any of the 30 teams. If he’s not the worst, drop whoever is and grab Manu.

  7. d2bnz says:

    Just been offered a trade , My Hibbert, Bass, and Wesley Matthews for his John Wall and Tayshaun Prince
    My inital feel is that I’m getting the best player in Wall although his current FG% is a real worry……but there has to be that period of a honeymoon surge with a new coach
    I have cover for Hibbert , with DeMarcus Cousins and Ibaka,
    The league is a Keeper so essentially I’m giving up Hibbert for Wall which in itself is probably a no brainer ….but a …..wizard
    Good lord how much procrastinating can i do ……Adam , help please.

  8. Sarah Palin Rice says:

    10-team, standard 9-cat H2H non-keeper

    Manu is available, pick him up or wait a little longer, who would you drop?

    Also, in this weeks match up I have Steals & blocks wrapped up, everything else is close, please rank the top 3 for a Sat pick up: Markieff Morris (Mem), Mullens (Was), Parsons (NY), Courtney Lee (NY), Barnes (@Mil), Shaun Livingston (LAL)

    PG- Rose
    SG- DeRozan
    G- Holiday
    SF- Granger
    PF- A’mare
    F- Bosh
    C- Hibbert
    Util- Ibaka
    Util- Ariza
    Bench- Shumpert, Mar$han Brooks, George Hill, Odom, Mullens, Morris

  9. Feeding the Abscess

    Feeding the Abscess says:

    Jordan had seven straight triple-doubles and 10 in 11 games late in the 1988-89 season while filling in at PG.


  10. Adam

    Adam says:

    @d2bnz: I answered you over in Thursday’s post.

    @Sarah Palin Rice: Drop Mullens for Manu. By mid-February, you’ll be ecstatic that you did. Also, I’d go Parsons first, then Barnes for Saturday.

    @Feeding the Abscess: Nice stat! Though MJ “filling in” for anyone on a basketball court seems like maybe not the right phrase!

  11. Chris says:

    Although it’s not at all the point of the post, Kyle Lowry is a beast! Lovin having him on my team this year.

    I also like your Bulls theory for ’97-’98 (this coming from a Bulls fan).

  12. Adam

    Adam says:

    @Chris: Not only is he beasting, but the Rockets are paying him pennies. He’s like a super model who just loooooves eating hot dogs when the game’s on.

  13. Pingback: The Lost Art of the Triple Double | Sportige

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