Welcome to Triple-Double Watch, a weekly check-in on everyone’s favorite arbitrary milestone of round, base-ten numbers.
We’re officially a month into the season. Over the last seven days, Eric Bledsoe got traded to Milwaukee; the Celtics can’t lose; LeBron James threw inadvertent(?) shade at Frank Ntilikina and, to the sheer delight of the New York faithful, the rookie threw himself back at James; and after receiving a flying Dion Waiters to his right leg, Rudy Gobert is expected to be out for a month.
Another week passed and another pair of triple-doubles got added to the board:
Lonzo Ball has had his share of rookie struggles so far, but as it turns out, he is the triple-double prince who was promised. On the road against the Bucks, Big Baller Brand’s golden son broke a 14-year old record held by LeBron James. At 20 years and 15 days old, Ball became the youngest player to ever notch a triple-double, beating the previous mark by five days.
Ball will go through growing pains and have some clunkers, but games like the one against Milwaukee is a reminder of what he’s capable of.
James Harden, looking like last year’s version of himself with Chris Paul out, moves up the leaderboard by getting his second triple-double of the season. Harden now sits tied in second place with Ben Simmons, two behind TD-King, Russell Westbrook.
Even with all the pieces they shipped out to acquire Paul, as long as Harden is surrounded with three shooters and a rim-runner, Houston maintains its place as a premier offense and one of the best teams in the NBA. Over the past week, Harden’s averaged 33 points, 12 assists, and almost seven rebounds (and over two steals!) per game. Not-so-coincidentally, the Rockets are 5-0 in that span.
This is the first time not including a Westbrook performance in this space and it doesn’t feel right. Oklahoma City needs to get it together and figure out how they fit so we can go back to Westbrook leaving a trail of ashes and rubble in his wake. Westbrook said he’s not worried about the Thunder’s shaky start, but I am. Sure, it’s selfishly centered around the sake of this column, but Triple-Double Watch needs its patron saint to cook.
I miss Scorched-Earth Westbrook, a human fireball burning through defenses and launching shots with reckless abandon. Now, he’s cautiously distributing to Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to make sure they get their touches. From a basketball sense, it’s ultimately for the best, as this Thunder team has a higher ceiling than in year’s past. Once they acquiesce and form on-court chemistry together, this group has an upside of a puncher’s chance at making a Finals run. Having said that, Scorched-Earth Westbrook is the best Westbrook, and I prefer watching him gun unapologetically for stats.
Rest in peace, Ron Baker Corner. He’s been shuttled to Westchester and probably won’t play with the varsity squad for the foreseeable future. Alas, I leave you with this picture. Tear up the G-League, old friend.