Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook wasn’t the only player to get a triple-double on Thursday night. Marc Gasol and Nikola Jokic aren’t chasing any all-time records, but they’re two players who have significantly improved their offensive numbers this season.
Gasol’s 18-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double was his second of the season and the third of his career, all with the Memphis Grizzlies. In fact, Gasol is the Grizzlies leader in career triple-doubles.
Marc’s three are six fewer than his brother Pau, but he has a 2-0 edge this season.
There are three elements to Gasol’s game that are highly improved this season. One is his scoring. He’s averaging 20.2 points, which would be nearly three points per game better than his previous best (17.4 in 2014-15). Another is his assists total. He’s averaging 4.5 per game this season. His single-season high is 4.0 in 2012-13. The other is his 3-point shooting. Gasol made two more 3-pointers on Thursday and has 94 3-pointers this season. He entered the season with 12 career 3-pointers in eight seasons.
Jokic’s 17-point, 14-rebound, 11-assist helped the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Clippers. Jokic has five triple-doubles this season, most by a center since David Robinson had five for the San Antonio Spurs in 1993-94. It’s the most by a Nuggets player since Lafayette Lever had five in 1989-90.
All five triple-doubles have come since the start of February, tied with LeBron James for second-most in the NBA in that span. Westbrook leads with 10.
Jokic’s biggest jump this season has been scoring from just about anywhere inside the 3-point line. He has improved his field-goal percentage by at least 5 percentage points from at the rim to 3 feet out, 3-10 feet, 10-16 feet and 16 feet to the 3 point line. He’s shooting nearly 63 percent on his 2-point shots after hitting them at a 54 percent rate last season.
This marked the third time this season that three players had a triple-double in the same day. Two of the three included Westbrook and Jokic, the other coming on Feb. 3, when the third triple-double was by DeMarcus Cousins.