Longest Triple-Double Streaks
Only around halfway through the 2015-16 season, this already has been a pretty fantastic year in the NBA for numbers, and not only because of the Golden State Warriors’ growing pile of wins. So far this season, two players – Draymond Green and Russell Westbrook – have put together three-game streaks of triple-doubles, and as of Friday Westbrook’s streak is still active.
While some have argued that the triple-double is an overrated and overhyped statistical accomplishment, the fact is that they are incredibly hard to pull off for the overwhelming majority of NBA players, which probably explains why some since-forgotten stat-chasers have done some really silly things to try to accomplish the feat.
To get three or more triple-doubles in a row is an even tougher accomplishment, which is why so much has been made this year about what Green did and what Westbrook is still doing. Still, three in a row is far from any sort of NBA record. Westbrook himself had four in a row less than a year ago, and even that wasn’t close to the most consecutive triple-doubles in league history.
Here’s a look at the players who have bested what Green and Westbrook have accomplished this year:
Russell Westbrook, 2014-2015 (4 straight)
Without Kevin Durant down the stretch last season, Westbrook put up some of the most ridiculous statistical outings in the history of the game. During this particular streak, which started at the end of February and stretched into early March of 2015, Westbrook scored 20, 39, 40 and 49 points in his four triple-double games. The last one came with 10 assists, 15 rebounds and three steals, which is something more than a handful of DraftKings players are likely still talking about to this day.
In the fifth game of this stretch, Westbrook still put up 43 points, seven assists and eight boards, only to follow that up with two more triple-doubles in the next three games. He’d have three more triple doubles on top of that in the final few weeks of regular season play. He’d finish with 11 on the year.
Maurice Stokes, 1956-1957 (4 straight)
There isn’t a lot of information available about Stokes’ streak, but the general consensus is that he did, in fact, perform the statistical anomaly four consecutive times while a member of the Rochester Royals in 1957. The season before he was named the fourth-ever NBA Rookie of the Year, and in the year of his triple-double streak he also managed to set what was then a record for most rebounds in a season with 1,256 (17.4 RPG). Also, despite being a big man, he finished the year ranked third in assists and looked well on his way to being one of the game’s better players.
Unfortunately in the final game of 1958, Stokes was knocked out cold by a defender and got sick a few days later on the flight home following the Royals’ first playoff game of the postseason. He had a seizure shortly afterwards that left him paralyzed for the next 12 years, when he died at the age of 36 of a heart attack.
Magic Johnson, 1986-1987 (4 straight)
There’s no real heroic narrative for Johnson’s four-game streak in the 1980s because, frankly, Johnson put up triple-doubles all the time over the course of his career. This particular year, however, would put Johnson in pretty esteemed company as one of only a small handful of players to post four or more consecutive triple-doubles. His streak started on March 31, 1987 with a 21/13/10 line, followed up by a couple more in which he scored 34 and 35 points. He would post one more triple-double in the regular season’s final seven games and three more in that year’s playoffs.
In 1988-1989, Johnson would post 17 triple-doubles over the course of the season, one of the highest totals of all time, and with 138 triple-doubles for his career there’s not really any question that he’s a legend when it comes to this particular stat. It’s actually a bit surprising that he didn’t have more big streaks like this.
Michael Jordan, 1988-1989 (7 straight)
What His Airness did in the 1988-1989 season was nothing short of ridiculous, as it came during a time when then-head coach Doug Collins decided to experiment with Jordan at point guard to see whether the league’s most popular player could help jump start the offense a bit. What actually happened ended up being arguably the most impressive offensive stretch in modern NBA history.
Jordan dropped triple-doubles in seven straight games, part of an 11-game run in which he would do the deed a total of 10 times. Over the course of those 11 contests, Jordan would only fail to score 30 or more points three times, and he topped 40 points three times. The crown jewel of the series was a 47-point, 11-rebound, 13-assist ordeal that easily was one of the best statistical games of Jordan’s career, which says a lot considering some of the games he put up in his day. If he would have gotten just three more rebounds on April 7, 1989, he’d be the record-holder in this category with room to spare.
Of course, the Bulls only won five of those 11 games, so the point guard experiment didn’t last. But when it was all said and done, Jordan averaged 33.6 PPG, 11.4 APG and 10.9 RPG in those contests. What a ride.
Oscar Robertson, 1961-1962 (7 straight)
Anybody who knows anything about the history of basketball knows that the Big O was the only player in league history to actually average a triple-double over the course of an entire season. It shouldn’t come as too big a surprise, then, that Robertson stacked up seven straight triple-doubles in a year in which he averaged 30.8 PPG, 11.4 APG and 12.5 RPG over the 79 games that he played that season.
Of course, he still holds the record for most triple-doubles in a single season (41), which also was something he accomplished in 1961-1962. Knowing that, it’s a small miracle he didn’t have a streak of 10 or more consecutive triple-doubles that year.
Wilt Chamberlain, 1967-1968 (9 straight)
There have been few stat chasers in the history of the game quite as prolific (and successful) as Wilt Chamberlain, which is why it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise that he is the record holder for the most consecutive triple-doubles in a single season. Like a lot of the other players on this list, his streak came toward the end of the season, from March 9 through March 20 of 1968, and those nine would contribute to his massive season-long total of 31 such games. Nine triple-doubles in 12 days is something that will never happen again, but the same could be said about a lot of Chamberlain’s records. Just add this one to the heap.
If Russell Westbrook manages one more triple-double on Saturday, he’ll be one of only four players in league history to put up five consecutive triple-doubles, and the other three are Jordan, Chamberlain and the Big O. That’s excellent company. And the way Westbrook has looked at times in his career, including right now, he’s as statistically dominant as anybody in the history of the game.
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