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LeBron James: Miami Heat Star King of the Almost-Triple-Double

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 14:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts to a play during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at American Airlines Arena on December 14, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Wes GoldbergContributor IIDecember 17, 2013

A triple threat who can score efficiently, pass spectacularly and rebound his position well, it should come as no surprise that LeBron James has recorded 36 triple-doubles in his career—by far the most of any active player since James came into the league in 2003.

However, James has come short of adding more triple-doubles to his resume, accounting for plenty of "almost-triple-doubles" throughout his career. 

Two of those have come this December. James put up 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists when the Miami Heat played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 14 and 30 points, nine rebounds and nine assists on Dec. 16 against the Utah Jazz.

(James also had an almost-almost-triple-double against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 7, posting 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.)

Defining an almost-triple-double as when a player scores more than 10 points but falls one short of double digits in one and/or two other categories, James has recorded 32 almost-triple-doubles in his career and a total of 68 almost-triple-doubles and triple-doubles.

Of active players, no one comes close. Rajon Rondo has a total of 25, and Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Chris Paul each have 21.

James keeps track of these things, too, remarking that he remembers the missed opportunities that could have put him over the triple-double hump.

Historically speaking, James still has some work to do before he can become the true king of the triple-double and almost-triple-double. Jason Kidd is the all-time leader with 168 total almost-triple-doubles and triple-doubles in his 19-year career. Magic Johnson is second with 112 in 13 years. 

If we were to break it down by year, Kidd averaged 8.84 "almost's" and triple-doubles per year. Johnson averaged 8.62 and James averaged 7.3 per year in his first nine seasons plus two in this, his 10th season. 

By the way, James is third on the all-time list and his career is, quite obviously, not over. With these past two December "almost's," James broke his tie at 65 with Larry Bird. At his current pace, James would have to play about six more seasons to catch Johnson and just under 14 more to catch Kidd.

Stats via basketball-reference.com
NameYears Played

Almost Triple-Doubles

and Triple-Doubles

Jason Kidd1995-2013168
Magic Johnson1979-1996112
LeBron James2004-201468
Larry Bird1979-199265
Fat Lever1982-199464

 

Bird's 65 came in a seven-year span from 1986-92 (9.3 per year), and Lever put up his 64 in an unreal four years between 1986-90 (16 per year!). But there is also something to be said about consistency in this category, as evidenced by the top three.

For what it's worth, Michael Jordan had 46 total almost's and triple-doubles in his career.

James has plenty of goals, and I couldn't tell you if and where this ranks on his list. It is clear, however, that James is paying attention.

If that is what James is going to use to keep this regular season interesting, well, this could be fun.

 

All stats accurate as of Dec. 16, 2013 and are courtesy of basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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