James Harden is on his way to being the first person since Tiny Archibald to lead the league in scoring and assists. Russell Westbrook is trying to be the first person since Oscar Robertson to average a triple double. These are both monster accomplishments (that only happened one time each by the way) and it’s amazing that they both are happening right now, in the same season. We asked our writers to weight in on how possible these two feats are to being continued over a full season and threw one question in on putting yourself in Steve Kerr’s shoes after Klay Thompson’s 60 point explosion last week.
1. What percentage chance do you give Russell Westbrook of finishing the season averaging a triple double? Would it be more or less of a feat than when Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-62?
Ben Gulker: About as high a percentage as my percentage understanding his wardrobe choices, which is to say, quite low.
Steve Hinson: I think he could pull it off. The rebounds will be toughest for him to manage as he's never finished in double digits there before. I'll go with 50/50. And more of a feat than Big O, considering he's playing nearly 10 fewer minutes per game.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): Era comparisons are tough and I usually (always) favor new school and this is no different. Oscar’s NBA played at a faster pace, he played over 44min/game and I don’t think people were allowed to jump in the 60’s. Westbrook’s body will breakdown before averaging a triple double ever happens. 5%
Ryan Pravato (Prava88): I'll say Westbrook has a 75% chance. The rebounds will be tough to sustain because when it's the latter portion of the season I think he'll find ways to conserve his energy (yes, Russ might actually chill for parts of plays here and there) and won't race toward the boards like he so often does. But, in the end I think Russ will average a triple-double AND that OKC wins the division by a game over Utah.
Justin Lambregtse: The rebounds are going to be tough for him, especially with how much effort he is putting in to get them. I am afraid his body might break down. I would say maybe 30-40 percent. Comparing between eras is tough, but I would say what Westbrook is doing is more impressive because he is doing it in fewer minutes.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: 25 to 35 percent chance. It's more likely he doesn't because it's so difficult and unlikely by definition, but what signs are there that he's slowing down? And in my book it's certainly more impressive to average a triple-double in today's NBA than 55 years ago. Even if you put aside how much the league has improved, the style of play in Oscar's era of was much more conducive to insane statistical feats.
2. What percentage chance do you give of James Harden finishing the season tops in both points AND assists per game? Would it be more or less of a feat than when Tiny Archibald did it in 1972-73?
Ben Gulker: Even slimmer.
Steve Hinson: Too much competition for both. 10 percent. Both would be pretty damn impressive. Archibald was playing at the same time as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt, Pete Maravich, Dave Bing, and Jerry West - yet he led both by a healthy margin.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): Of anything, I think this has the best chance of happening. He’s going to finish one or two in assists so it will come down to points. Again, harder in today’s game as I believe teams weren’t allowed to have two guys over 6 foot 4 on the same team in the 70’s. 30%
Ryan Pravato (Prava88): I give it 10% chance, 10 because Harden is just spectacular and continues to prove it again and again. He's playing great as always, and now that Dwight Howard is gone is seems just by osmosis that Harden is more likable. Anyway, I believe that Anthony Davis will win the points average race because his team is extra weak and also because he may be injured for a period, which is good stuff for his average.
Justin Lambregtse: I don't think Harden will lead the league in scoring, so I don't see it happening. I think leading the league is assists will happen though. I think it ultimately depends on how many points and assists he ends up averaging to determine whether it is a better feat than Tiny Archibald.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: 5 to 10 percent chance since, unlike Westbrook, he has to make up some ground to get there. I think this is also a more impressive feat than the historical guy, but Harden is helped by some of the other top guys (KD, Curry and LeBron chief among them) having other stars on their teams and thus lowering their minutes/scoring output.
3. If you were Steve Kerr in the fourth quarter of Klay Thompson's 60-point outburst: pull him or leave him in?
Ben Gulker: I'd talk to the player individually during a break to discuss options. I don't have any problem with how Kerr handled this, personally.
Steve Hinson: I like Kerr pulling him. It's a very Popovich move. Last year the Warriors got caught up in chasing the Bulls, then lost the title. Pulling him sends the message that there's only one goal, and it's not 82 points.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): Pull him; it was a blow out and nothing good for the team could happen.
Ryan Pravato (Prava88): Depends. The Warriors have the biggest prize to play for, so what they decided was right. Being extra careful in this situation is a no-brainer. If they were some middle of the road or poor team, I'd say go for it. Heck, Klay could have scored 90.
Justin Lambregtse: Out of selfish reasons, I would have left him in. However, I agree with Kerr's decision because there is absolutely no value in playing Klay in the 4th quarter of that game and possibly risking injury.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I'd have left him in for at least part of the quarter. If one of my players had the chance to make history, I wouldn't want to take that chance away from them unless they were hogging the ball or making bad decisions. He didn't even play 30 minutes, it's not like he was risking his career or season or anything. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, though, the logic behind taking him out is still perfectly reasonable.
What are your thoughts DBB? Is it happening for James or Russ? Would you have left Klay in?