Friday, March 16, 2012

LeBron v The Big O

Today I was re-looking over an excerpt from Bill Simmons' "The Book of Basketball", which argued that Oscar Robertson's achievement of averaging a triple-double (double figures in points, rebounds and assists per game) over an entire season is less impressive when you factor in the high number of possessions at the time. That got me to thinking, if you inflate LeBron James' current season per game averages for the pace of the 1961-62 season, would he have likely averaged a triple double as well?

Some per game averages:

King James (2011-12): 27.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 6.6 apg 
Big O (1961-62): 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 11.4 apg

On raw figures, Oscar leads in all three categories. But look at the per game averages for each team:

2011-12: 95.8 ppg, 42.2 rpg, 20.8 apg
1961-62: 118.8 ppg, 71.4 rpg, 23.9 apg

So if you inflate James' figures by the difference in team stats between seasons:

Inflated King James (2011-12): 34.4 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 7.6 apg.

Not a triple double then, although James now comes out ahead in both points and rebounds, which is not unexpected given his position on the court. Either way, both seasons are impressive and worthy of Most Valuable Player consideration (Robertson lost out to Bill Russell).

James misses out on averaging a triple double due to comparatively low assist numbers. During his last MVP season in 2009-10 he averaged 8.6 apg, but even inflating those for differences in assists per team between seasons he just missed out at an inflated average of 9.7 apg. Still very impressive though.

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