With every passing day, the dream of Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double for a full season — a feat only NBA legend Oscar Robertson accomplished — becomes a little more realistic.
On Friday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard became the first player with seven consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan in 1989, thanks to the unique combination of an incredibly skilled player and a team that desperately needs him to lead them in almost every way.
That perfect storm got me thinking, though. Say some of the NBA's very best decided they were no longer concerned with playing team basketball or trying to win games. If they really put their minds to it and ignored the consequences, which players could average a triple-double for a season?
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The NBA's preeminent point forward (assuming you don't include LeBron in that category, anyway) is on pace to become one of just a handful of players in the past five years to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. As he continues to develop and the game slows down for him, Antetokounmpo is going to turn into a nightly triple-double threat.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
This one's self-explanatory, so we might as well get it out of the way early. If anyone is going to match Oscar Robertson, it's Westbrook.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron has much bigger concerns these days than padding his stats — like resting, hoping J.R. Smith will stop hugging opponents, and trying to keep his team in line until the Finals. Here's what I'll say to the King, though:
Michael Jordan never averaged a triple-double for a season. Consider this a challenge.
USA TODAY SportsJeff Hanisch
John Wall, Washington Wizards
A surprise inclusion, to be sure, but I'll let my FOX Sports colleague Dan Carson make his case: "There's literally nothing that's preventing him from being Russ-ish besides himself." Wall's too unselfish to embrace his inner Westbrook, but if he ever decided he had enough of Bradley Beal ... who knows?
Getty ImagesRob Carr
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Towns doesn't tally many assists — that's what his point guards are for — but he's a deft passer who could average double-digit dimes if he so desired. And before Knicks fans yell at me for worshipping at the altar of the Wolves big man ...
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Yes, I think Porzingod could average a triple-double if he really wanted, as well (although he's a bit of a black hole, if I'm being honest). This new class of NBA bigs is incredibly talented and versatile.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
Other than Westbrook, Harden's the closest on the list to pulling off this historic feat. The Rockets point guard is averaging 28.2 points, 11.4 assists and 7.6 rebounds this season. There's no reason the Bearded One couldn't grab a few more boards per game if he had his heart set on averaging a triple-double.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Griffin is my sleeper pick (non-Westbrook-and-LeBron division) to pull off the feat if he eschewed any concepts of winning basketball or defense. He's one of the NBA's best passing big men, and the points and rebounds would be a piece of cake for the man who does so much more than just dunk these days.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The minutes restriction is an issue, but if Embiid managed to play 36 minutes per game and abandoned any semblance of discipline, I have no doubt the Sixers big man could average double-digit points, rebounds and blocked shots.
... what? You didn't think I was expecting 10 assists per game from Embiid, did you? Of course not; "The Process" is going to make things weird and get things done with swats.
Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat
Ditto for Whiteside, who's already quite proficient at tallying triple-doubles with points, boards and blocks. At this point, what do the Heat have to lose by freeing him to chase shots on the defensive end in an attempt to send them into the fourth row of the stands?
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
No, this isn't some sort of crude joke about Green's proclivity for kicking people and drawing technical fouls. The Warriors forward is one of the most versatile players in the game. Run your offense through him, and he'll average a triple-double in his sleep.
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Despite carrying the offensive load, Durant has averaged 4.5 or more assists in four of his 10 seasons (including 2016-17). He's a skilled passer who could average 10 assists per game if he really felt the need.
KD's career average of 7.1 rebounds per game, meanwhile, is all the evidence I need that he could rip down double-digit boards if teammates cleared out of the way for him the way they do for Russell Westbrook these days.