Oscar Robertson RumorsAll NBA Players
The most sophisticated statistical techniques currently available for evaluating NBA performance are not kind to Mr Westbrook. According to Regularised Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM)—a measure developed by Jeremias Engelmann of ESPN, which compares a team’s scoring margin when a player is on the court versus when he sits on the bench, and adjusts for the quality of everyone else playing at the same time—Mr Westbrook’s 2016-17 was in fact rather humdrum. It found that the Thunder scored 2.7 more points per 100 possessions when Mr Westbrook was on the court than they would have with an average player in his stead, and allowed 0.3 fewer. The combined impact of 3.0 placed him just 26th in the league.
A second reason is that triple-doubles aren’t what they used to be. As the NBA has adopted a more up-tempo game, and developed offensive strategies that allow versatile players to make better use of their range of skills, triple-doubles have become far more common. In 2016-17, one was seen every 10.5 games, making them 2.5 times as frequent as their long-run average. If not for Mr Westbrook’s all-time record 42 triple-doubles, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who amassed 22, would have set the single-season high excluding Mr Robertson. A rising tide lifts all boats, and if everyone is compiling more triple-doubles, today’s league leader in the category may not add more wins to his club’s ledger than the statistical leaders of yesteryear did.