Before we discuss LeBron’s qualifications of averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for a full season, let’s run through a quick history lesson. Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to achieve the league’s version of the triple crown, scoring 30.8 points, piling up 11.4 assists and grabbing 12.5 rebounds per game in 1962. Eye-popping numbers. Also eye-popping? How many missed shots there were to collect.
As a result of breakneck pace and horrid shooting proficiency, the average team in 1962 missed 61.8 shots per game, which means that there were approximately 120 missed field goal attempts available to be hauled in.
The modern game is dramatically slower and more efficient, leading to far fewer rebounding opportunities for today’s basketball player. Just looking strictly at field goal attempts, there are, on average, about 40 fewer live balls to be collected now compared to Robertson’s era. And that’s before we get into missed free throws. That’s a lot of missed rebounding opportunities.
Robertson’s record still stands for primarily two reasons: (A) not many players with Robertson’s extraordinary skill set have come around, and (B) when they do, they don’t play in a climate that breeds triple-doubles. While LeBron may qualify for the first criterion, he has never played on a fast-paced team and he's never played in a league chock-full of 35 percent shooters.
This is a big reason why LeBron has a better shot at winning the next mayoral election in Cleveland than averaging a triple-double in today’s game. It’s about opportunity as much as it is skill.