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Triple doubles might be misleading, but they translate to wins

LeBron James-Russell Westbrook-Larry Bird-Magic Johnson

LeBron James-Russell Westbrook-Larry Bird-Magic Johnson

“In the NBA, achieving a triple-double does not mean a player played well," Stan Van Gundy tweeted after Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in the Lakers' Christmas Day loss to the Nets. And while he might be right, a star player racking one up usually induces a different result.

Triple doubles translate to wins

According to StatMuse, Westbrook's teams are 140-50 (73.7% win rate) when he records a triple-double -- he's averaging 24.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 12.9 assists on 43% from the floor in those games.

Although seen as empty stats, devalued for their frequency, triple-doubles obviously translate to wins. And not just in Russ' case. Here's how teams do when each of the greatest all-around performers reaches double-digit marks in three different statistical categories in a single game.




LeBron James



Oscar Robertson



Nikola Jokic



Rajon Rondo



Magic Johnson



Larry Bird



Luka Doncic



Draymond Green



Jason Kidd



James Harden



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Source: StatMuse

Westbrook's season is an anomaly

Take that for data! But as always, keep things in context. Getting a triple-double doesn't necessarily mean a player has played well -- the game of basketball is much more nuanced than that. But assuming it's done within the flow of the game, as its by-product and not someone's priority, star player racking one up is obviously beneficial for a team.

However, unlike everyone else on the list, Westbrook is the only guy who gets criticized for it -- Karl-Anthony Towns is the latest to do it, calling the Lakers' point guard "a stat chaser." But this year, the criticism might be fair.

Westbrook is tied with Nikola Jokic and Dejounte Murray for the most triple-doubles this season with six. The Lakers, however, have only won two of those games. The game of basketball, as well as the Lakers' issues, are much more stratified than that. But compared to the entirety of Russ' run in the NBA and how his all-around performances usually affect the team's success, this is an anomaly.

Westbrook has already called out the fans for their unrealistic expectations, once again basing the quality of his play on stats. And no matter what the eye test says, that tends to be true -- a 73.7% win rate in games he gets a triple-double proves it. But not this year.


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