T.J. McConnell isn’t the most prominent name on the Philadelphia 76ers, but there’s a reason why he’s an internet sensation.
It’s easy to get lost in the shadows of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. T.J. McConnell, the Philadelphia 76ers backup point guard, does an outstanding job of making sure that he’s mentioned alongside his All-Star caliber teammates. Usually, clips of him circulate Twitter because they’re hustle plays, but, in Philly’s 108-92 win over the New York Knicks, McConnell bucked that narrative and was arguably the most impactful player on the floor.
He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, giving him the first triple-double of his career. McConnell was also a plus-11 and collected six steals. According to Basketball Reference’s database, only one other player in franchise history has recorded a triple-double and added six swipes to their stat line. And it was George McGinnis all the way back in February of 1976.
McConnell’s triple-double was historic — there’s no getting around that. However, queries like this are much more fun when we don’t limit them to just one franchise. We’re now going back to Basketball Reference and running the same search, except it’s league-wide. The results are jarring. Before McConnell’s effort on Monday night, only 34 players had a triple-double with six steals. Some of the names include Jerry West, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Gary Payton and Chris Paul. (Fat Lever leads everyone with seven such performances.)
(Let’s take it one step further. T.J. McConnell came off the bench against the Knicks, and he’s the only reserve since 1984 to have the kind of game that he had.)
Philadelphia snagged their fourth-straight victory and improved to 29-25 overall. Dario Saric was the leading scorer and had 24 points in 32 minutes, followed by J.J. Redick with 18 and Embiid with 17. Simmons, who had a historic triple-double himself last month, stuffed the stat sheet to the brim — 13 points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals, three blocks.
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