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A Triple-Double Season for LeBron?

By Matthew Yglesias

"A Triple-Double Season for LeBron?"

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On ABC right now, they’re talking about the question of whether or not LeBron James could ever average a triple-double across the course of a season, the way Oscar Robinson did in the 1961-62 season. Discussion of this issue would benefit from consideration of the question of pace. NBA record-keeping wasn’t sufficiently detailed in the 1960s to calculate pace factor in a fully rigorous manner, but everyone’s understanding is that the game was played much faster in the 60s than it was even in the 1980s which, in turn, were faster than today. For example, in the 61-62 season, the average team took 8619 field goal attempts over the course of an 80 game season. Last season the average team had only 6683 field goal attempts in an 82 game season.

In the 2007-2008 season, LeBron averaged 7.2 assists, and 7.9 rebounds as well as 30 points per game. That season, the Cleveland Cavaliers played with a pace factor of 90.2, which was unusually slow—22nd out of 30. To have any chance at breaking the Robinson line, not only would LeBron probably need to start wracking up assists at a somewhat higher rate, but Cleveland would need to start playing substantially faster.

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