Blueprint for LeBron James to Average a Triple-Double
LeBron James has recorded 32 triple doubles during the regular season, and he's added eight more in the playoffs.
He closed out this past season with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in the deciding game of the NBA Finals.
For his career, through Monday, James is only 3.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds away from averaging a triple-double over 704 regular season games.
The closest he came to becoming the first NBA player to average a season-long triple double since Oscar Robertson, was during the 09-10 campaign.
In that final year, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James averaged 29.7 points, 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds.
This season, through his first 15 games, he's averaging 24.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
But, for as dominant as James is in all phases of the game, he will not spontaneously combust into a walking triple-double for the season.
He needs a plan for how to get there.
That blueprint, for James to average a triple-double, would begin by increasing the number of field goals he attempts less than ten feet from the basket.
He would also need to continue to attack the defensive glass and collect at least one more offensive rebound per game.
His assist total would need to improve by finding more teammates cutting to the basket for scoring plays at the rim along with attacking the basket more himself as a passer.
This, while continuing to efficiently lead his Miami Heat team in scoring.
Continue to Efficiently Lead Heat in Scoring
This is not the Ricky Davis blueprint for triple-double success.
I am not suggesting that LeBron should specifically focus on averaging a triple-double by scoring only 10 points per game and then spending the rest of his offensive energy searching for 10 more assists.
LeBron has led the Heat in scoring in each of the two previous seasons. In the process, he's also shot at least 50 percent from the floor overall.
So far this year, he's accomplishing both again.
The blueprint for James to average a triple-double includes those minimums of leading the Heat in scoring while also shooting at least 50 percent.
This not only opens up passing lanes for James as defenses converge, but it is also is a major driver for why the Heat win, which is still, obviously, the primary goal here.
As of Monday, James is averaging 24.7 points per game while shooting 53 percent on the season.
Increase Field Goals Attempted from Less Than Ten Feet Away
LeBron James connected on 71 percent of his field goals attempted from less than ten feet away from the basket through his first 13 games this season.
Last year, he made 69 percent from that range.
This is a major reason he is scoring so efficiently this season, but it also is helping to improve his rebounding total as well.
LeBron is attempting 6.8 shots per game from this distance. By playing less than ten feet from the basket, he is in a better rebounding position once the shot goes up.
The blueprint for James to average a triple double includes approximately 10 shots per game from this area of the floor.
The more field goals he attempts from close range, or the more time he spends in the painted area offensively, the better chance he has of increasing the number of offensive rebounds he collects.
When positioned 10-23 feet away from the basket, an area he converts only 42 percent of his field goals from, that rebounding effort only becomes more difficult.
Average at Least One More Offensive Rebound Per Game
James is averaging 8.8 rebounds per game this season. That number would be good for a career high if it holds.
Despite that, LeBron has had three games this season, through Monday, where he did not grab one offensive rebound.
That can't ever happen if he is going to average a triple-double for the season.
In six other games, James grabbed more than two offensive boards.
This needs to happen every night, at minimum, in order to average the requisite 10 rebounds overall.
For some perspective, Anderson Varejao is averaging six offensive rebounds per game through Sunday.
James is averaging only 1.5 offensive boards per game this season. For his career, he's never averaged more than 1.8.
That number will need to be in the 2.5 range in order to average a triple-double.
James can help himself get there by playing closer to the basket, as detailed in the previous slide.
Continue to Attack the Defensive Glass
There isn't much more you can ask from LeBron James on the defensive glass.
He's averaging 7.3 defensive rebounds per game as of Monday. For his career, James averages 6.0.
He's averaged at least six rebounds for the season seven times but has never averaged more than 6.5.
LeBron's improvement in this category already this season is why he is averaging a career high in rebounds overall right now.
He only needs to remain as consistent as he's been so far this year on the defensive glass in order to average a triple-double for the season.
Find More Teammates Cutting to the Rim
Three seasons ago, four of LeBron James' assists per game led to baskets made at the rim.
This season, through his first 13 games according to HoopData, that number was only 2.4.
James needs to find an average of 3.5 more assists per game in order to average 10 for the season and this is the first place he can look.
Dwyane Wade, for example, is attempting almost two less shots at the rim per game right now than he averaged last year.
Both Wade and Bosh averaged over 66 percent on shots at the rim last season.
They need to cut to the basket more and LeBron needs to find them with the pass in order for James to average a triple-double.
Drive and Kick to Three-Point Shooters
Whether it is off-the-dribble or out of the postup position, LeBron's ability to attack the basket as a passer will increase his chances of averaging a triple-double.
The area he can look for those additional assists would be the three-point line.
The Miami Heat are leading the NBA in three-point field goal percentage, through Sunday. They are shooting just over 42 percent as a team through 15 games.
In the 08-09 season, LeBron's Cavaliers averaged 39 percent from three on the season. That year James assisted on 2.9 three-point field goals per game.
This season, through 13 games, James is averaging only 2.4 assists leading to three-pointers made.
With his current team shooting better than his former team did, there should be more opportunities for assists in this area as the season goes on.