Elite clubs: Triple double club

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The probable future king of triple doubles, Russell Westbrook, got his chase for the current king, Oscar Robertson, on a blistering start with four straight triple doubles while playing 4 of the Washington Wizards first 6 games for the 2020-2021 season.

His 21 point – 11 rebound -15 assist game against Philadelphia and 15-15-12 against Orlando pushes his career total to 150, second all time for most triple doubles made during the regular season.

He is just 31 off Robertson, who has 181.

At the rate he is going and given he is the orchestrator of the Washington Wizards’ offense, he will end up holding the career lead anytime within the next two years.

According to basketballreference.com, rounding the top ten are (3) Magic Johnson, 138; (4) Jason Kidd, 107; (5) LeBron James, 94; (6) Wilt Chamberlain, 78; (7) Larry Bird, 59; (8) James Harden, 46; (9) Fat Lever, 43; and (10) Nikola Jokić, 42 .

Only Westbrook and LeBron James have recorded triple doubles against all 30 active franchises in the NBA today.

Triple doubles in the playoffs

While Westbrook is putting his mark for the regular season, two iconic Lakers lead this club for the playoffs. Magic lead the list with 30, just two ahead of LeBron. According to basketballreference.com, rounding the top ten are:

(3) Jason Kidd, 11; (4) Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Draymond Green and Larry Bird, 10; (8) Wilt Chamberlain, 9; (9) Oscar Robertson, 8; and (10) Nikola Jokić and John Havlicek, 5.

When relating to the finals. LeBron and Magic out-produced the combined output of the next six placers in the list.

James is the undisputed leader with 10 total finals triples doubles, followed by Magic Johnson with 8

The then rookie Johnson flashed his all-around game as he recorded his first finals triple-double, a 14 point, 15 rebound, 10 assist output, during Game 5 of the 1980 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. That was the game before he took over at center and closed out the Sixers in six games.

He went on to record a total of 8 finals triple doubles while appearing in 50 finals games during his career to own what was then viewed a probable unbreakable record until James came along.

James tallied 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals to break a tie with and pull ahead of Johnson. James padded his lead with an almost similar 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists triple-double in Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals.

That leaves their closest pursuers way distant: Draymond Green with 3 and Larry Bird, Walt Frazier, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, and now Jimmy Butler with 2 each.

The players with one triple-double during the finals under their belt are: Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Jason Kidd, James Worthy, Tim Duncan, Rajon Rondo, Dave Cowens, Wes Unseld, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and now, Jimmy Butler.

Recently, Jimmy Butler recorded shifts in the triple double record books for the NBA finals.

In Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals, Butler recorded a triple-double of 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. That was the first finals triple-double of his career and became only the 21st player in the league’s 74 years of existence to record a triple double in the finals

In addition, Butler joins LeBron James (2015) and Jerry West (1969) as the only players in NBA history to have a 40-point triple-double in the Finals.

Butler followed this with a 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists output in Game 5.

That made him the 2nd player to record 30 point triple double in the same series, joining James.

Overall, Butler made long strides during the 2019-20 season in relation to career triple doubles.

His two finals triple doubles were also the first he recorded during the playoffs.

In addition, he has seven regular season triple doubles.

Four of them were made during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons when he was still playing with the Chicago Bulls.

The other three were made last season during his first stint with the Miami Heat.

By Armando M. Bolislis

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