SALT LAKE CITY — In the 45-year history of the franchise, Jazz players have made a grand total of 24 triple-doubles during regular-season play.
Russell Westbrook, who will be in town Monday night when Oklahoma City takes on the Jazz (7 p.m. Vivint Arena), has more triple-doubles than that this season.
Westbrook already has 25 triple-doubles in 2018-19, giving him 128 in his career. He trails only Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138) on the all-time NBA triple-double list and is on pace to average a triple-double for the third straight season (23.5 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 10.5 apg).
The last regular-season triple-double by a Utah player came more than 11 years ago when Carlos Boozer accomplished the feat on Feb. 13, 2008 at Seattle when he had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Ricky Rubio had one in last year’s playoffs when he had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a Game 3 win over Oklahoma City.
You’d think coach Quin Snyder couldn’t care less about triple-doubles, seeing that he’s all about team play and all, but he surprised with his answer about it last week.
“No, I’d love to see one of our players have one,” he said. “We’ve had some guys that are close.”
Snyder calls Westbrook a “unique player” and said there are certain things a player has to do to be able to accomplish such a feat, which has become more and more common in today’s NBA (96 this season by 30 different players).
“If you look across the league historically, the players that put those up — Magic Johnson, all the way back to Oscar Robertson and various other players, it’s because of the way that they play,” he said. “One, you have to get to the (foul) line, even if you’re not having a great scoring night. Second, your ability to rebound — I’m stating the obvious — and the unselfishness that comes when you’re creating for other people.”
Snyder says the way the Jazz play, and have traditionally played, with quick ball movement and an overall unselfishness, makes it hard for individual players to pile up big numbers in several categories.
“I can’t speak for the last 10 years, but in our time, our attack has been different,” he said. “Based on different personnel, we attack more across five positions and everybody creates offense and that’s how we’re built.”
Snyder calls Westbrook a player that “fits who they are and what their team is” with “his ability to defer a pass when appropriate in addition to being able to score and his aggressiveness on the glass.”
While many point guards are able to get double figures in scoring and assists, the 6-foot-3 Westbrook has another special ability.
“He can get seven defensive rebounds, but he’s so dynamic he can fill in with three offensive rebounds and that makes him even more unique,” Snyder said.
Utah's Kyle Korver has seen a lot of triple-doubles in his 16-year career, particularly when he played next to LeBron James in Cleveland.
“You’ve got to have the ball in your hands, that’s the key,” Korver said. “In today’s NBA it seems like there’s more and more because certain guys are dictating the whole game. (The Jazz) are built a lot differently — we’re more team-oriented.”
Pete Maravich has the most triple-doubles in Jazz franchise history with seven, all coming before the franchise moved to Utah in 1979. Second on the list is Mark Eaton, with all six of his coming in points, rebounds and blocked shots. Karl Malone had three, in the 1996, ’97 and ’99 seasons, while Andrei Kirilenko had three – two the traditional way with points, rebounds and assists and one with points, rebounds and blocks.
Eaton had one of the most unusual triple-doubles ever on Jan. 18, 1985 against Portland when he made just 1 of 12 field goals but made 10 free throws and came up with 20 rebounds and 14 blocked shots.
John Stockton never had one during the regular season, but did have one in the 2001 playoffs against Dallas when he had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Looking forward, the three most likely Jazz players to get triple-doubles would be Rubio, Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell. Rubio had three during his time in Minnesota, while Ingles has a chance with his 6-8 height and passing ability as shown by his getting at least 10 assists in three of Utah’s last five games.
Snyder said Mitchell is the type of player that could do it down the line.
“I don’t know where he is on that scale, but I would think at some point he would touch that as well,” he said.
Mitchell said he’s never had a triple-double at any level, but when he was asked about the possibility recently, he smiled and said, “Someday.”
Triple-doubles 2018-19 season5 comments on this story
- Russell Westbrook, OKC, 25
- Nikola Jokic, Denver, 12
- Ben Simmons, Philadelphia, 10
- LeBron James, Lakers, 7
- James Harden, Houston, 6
Most triple-doubles in NBA history
- Oscar Robertson, 181
- Wilt Chamberlain, 138
- Russell Westbrook, 128
- Jason Kidd, 107
- LeBron James, 80
Most triple-doubles in Jazz history 1974-2019
- Pete Maravich, 7
- Mark Eaton, 6
- Karl Malone, 3
- Andrei Kirilenko, 3
Most impressive triple-double in NBA history — Wilt Chamberlain: 22 points, 25 rebounds, 21 assists on Feb. 2, 1968 vs Detroit
Most impressive triple-double in Jazz history — Mark Eaton: 12 points, 20 rebounds, 14 blocks on Jan. 18, 1985 vs Portland