In 1971, Norm Van Lier made NBA history with one of the strangest stat lines: zero points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. No player before or since had posted a double-double without scoring a single point. That makes sense intuitively. The sort of player that handles the ball enough to rack up 10 assists is almost always going to be good enough to stumble into a single point. If he’s big enough to pull in 10 rebounds, he’s probably going to at least draw a foul at some point. Yet for more than 50 years, no player in league history managed to match Van Lier.
Until now. On Sunday, Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Josh Giddey posted a similar, but slightly cleaner, line: zero points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. That made him the second player in league history to post a scoreless double-double, and just as Van Lier did five decades ago, Giddey’s Thunder managed to win their game against the New Orleans Pelicans, 117-112.
It’s fitting that Giddey is the player that matched Van Lier considering their stylistic similarities. Neither Van Lier nor Giddey were prolific scorers, but made up for it with their all-around contributions. Van Lier averaged seven assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in his career. Giddey is averaging six assists and seven rebounds per night in his rookie campaign. If he continues to develop at this rate, he could challenge Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook as the only players ever to average a triple-double for a season — although Big O and The Brodie both have scoring titles under their belts.
For now, Giddey will have to settle for this esoteric bit of NBA history. The Thunder drafted him to be a versatile contributor rather than an elite scorer, and on Sunday, Giddey lived up to the billing with one of the rarest stat lines you’ll ever see in a professional basketball game.