Many of those unfamiliar with common sports terminology or even casual sports fans may wonder in basketball what is a double double? Although not nearly celebrated as much as a triple-double, a double double is still an impressive accomplishment for a basketball player.
The ability to amass a double double on a consistent, game-by-game basis sets apart good players from great ones and is a common achievement among most NBA all-stars.
What is a double double in basketball?
A double double occurs when a basketball player accrues at least 10 points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks in 2 of these statistical categories in a single game. For example, a player who has 14 points and 10 assists or 12 points and 11 rebounds in a game would achieve a double double.
It is important to note that a player does not have to score a point to be credited with a double double, as long as they accrue at least 10 in 2 of the other 4 statistical categories.
How common is a double double in basketball?
Double doubles are a relatively frequent occurrence in most NBA basketball games but do not happen as often at the collegiate or high school levels, which are shorter in length than NBA games. During the 2021-2022 NBA regular season, a total of 2,150 double doubles were achieved by many different players throughout the league, an average of about .87 a game.
Although the total number of double doubles occurring during an NBA season has stayed relatively stable over the years, the average number occurring on a per-game basis has decreased due to the greater number of teams in the league today. For example, the 1984-1985 NBA season, which saw 23 teams play a total of 1,886 games, had a total of 2,163 double doubles, or an average of 1.15 per game.
What is the record for most double-doubles in a season in the NBA?
Wilt Chamberlain currently holds the record for most double-doubles in an NBA season, achieving one in every game during the 1966-1967 NBA regular season for a total of 81. Incredibly, Chamberlain also accumulated a double-double in all 11 postseason games, for a total of 92 in both regular and postseason play. No other player in NBA history has been able to match this achievement, with few players, none in recent memory, even coming close.
Players with the Most double-doubles in NBA history
- WILT CHAMBERLAIN – 967
Wilt Chamberlain currently holds the record for most double-doubles in NBA history with 967, an incredible achievement that reveals just how dominant a player he was during his career. Chamberlain also holds the record for most consecutive double-doubles in NBA history, accumulating 227 straight double-doubles from 1964 to 1967. He also holds the 2nd and 3rd longest double-double streaks in NBA history at 220 and 133 respectively. Chamberlain’s double-double accomplishments are some of the most impressive records in the history of sports and will probably never be broken.
- MOSES MALONE – 894
Moses Malone is 2nd all-time in double-doubles, a tribute to both his dominant play and enduring playing career spanning 19 seasons in the NBA. For a stretch of 5 seasons from 1978-1979 to 1982-1983, he compiled double-doubles in more than 90% of the regular season games he played in. Surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in this category during this time as the NBA’s most dominant center, Malone is one of the forgotten centers in NBA history, partly since he spent his career with several different teams in the NBA.
T-3. KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – 885
Although he was famous for the most dominant offensive move in NBA history, the skyhook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also was a dominant rebounder for the first half of his career. His 885 double-doubles tie him with Elvin Hayes for the 3rd most of all time, which he accumulated over a 20-year career in the NBA. He amassed double-doubles in nearly 93% of all regular-season games that he played in over the first 7 years of his career.
T-3. ELVIN HAYES – 885
One of the forgotten stars of the NBA, Elvin Hayes is tied for 3rd most double-doubles in NBA history with 885. He’s the only player on this list to spend the vast majority of his playing days at a position other than center.
Establishing himself as arguably the best power forward of the 1970s, Hayes immediately became a double-double machine and an NBA ironman, missing only 9 games in his 16-year career. Hayes holds the record for most double-doubles in the first 3 seasons of a player’s career with 234, surpassing even Wilt Chamberlain’s first 3-year-total of 230.
- TIM DUNCAN – 841
Drafted in 1997 and the only player from the 21st century on this list, Tim Duncan became one of the most consistent performers in NBA history, helping the Spurs win 5 NBA championships during his career.
After spending the first half of his career at the power forward position, mainly as a result of being drafted to a Spurs team that already had a dominant center in David Robinson, Duncan switched to center for the second half of his career.
Although he didn’t compile double-doubles at the rate of some of the other members of this list, he led the NBA in double-doubles in 4 of his first 5 years in the NBA, compiling 287 during that span.
Who has the most double-doubles in college basketball history?
Tom Gola currently holds the record for most career double-doubles in Division 1 college basketball history with 96. Gola played for La Salle University from 1951 to 1955. Gola would go on to have a successful career in the NBA and would eventually be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976.
The record for most double-doubles in a season in Division 1 college basketball history is 31, a record shared by Navy’s David Robinson and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot.
Who has the most double-doubles as a rookie in NBA history?
Elvin Hayes compiled the most double-doubles as a rookie in NBA history with 78 in his first year in the league. However, it is important to note that Wilt Chamberlain holds the rookie record for the number of double-doubles accrued as a percentage of games played with 71 in 72 games. Hayes, on the other hand, accrued 78 double-doubles in a total of 82 games played.
Sets apart good players from the great ones
Although not as heralded as the triple-double, the double-double is nonetheless an impressive NBA statistic. Requiring players to compile at least 10 points, rebounds, assists, blocks, or steals in 2 of these statistical categories, only the most elite players can consistently achieve double-doubles in a grueling, 82-game NBA season. Wilt Chamberlain holds the vast majority of all major NBA double-double records, most of which will probably never be surpassed due to the supreme dominance of his play.