Individuals normally unfamiliar with different basketball terminology may have to ask, “What is a triple double in basketball?” A feat much more difficult to achieve than a double double, a triple-double is one of the top individual game achievements that an all-around player can accomplish. Being able to consistently finish a game with a triple-double is an impressive accomplishment and usually sets apart good players from great ones.
What is a Triple Double in basketball?
A triple double is a statistical achievement in basketball, where a player records at least 10 in 3 of the 5 main statistical categories in a basketball game. While most people commonly associate a triple-double with scoring at least 10 points, it is not necessary to score a single point to achieve a triple-double. As long as a player gets to 10 in 3 of the five main statistical categories of basketball, points, rebounds, assists, blocks, or steals., it still counts as a triple-double.
Why is it called a Triple Double?
When a player gets to 10 in a statistical category, it is commonly referred to as reaching double figures. Accomplishing doubles figures 3 different times is a triple achievement since triple is another designation for 3. Therefore, 3 separate achievements in reaching double figures in a game are referred to as a triple-double.
What is a Perfect Triple Double?
A perfect triple-double occurs when a player finishes a game with a triple-double without missing a field goal or free throw attempt. In NBA history only 2 players have ever achieved a perfect triple-double. Russell Westbrook in 2017 and Wes Unseld in 1970. Ironically, when Westbrook accomplished this feat in 2017, the Elias Sports Bureau incorrectly reported that he was the first to ever do so, forgetting about Unseld’s perfect triple-double nearly a half-century earlier.
What is better than a triple-double?
The quadruple double is one of the rarest statistical accomplishments in basketball. It only occurs when a player records double figures in 4 of the 5 main statistical categories. To date, only 4 players in NBA history have officially recorded a quadruple-double. Nate Thurmond, Alvin Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson, with Olajuwon doing it twice.
Quadruple-doubles are so rare because they require a player to get at least 10 steals or 10 blocks in a game, in addition to reaching double figures in points, rebounds, and assists. It is important to note that blocks and steals did not become official stats until the 1973-1974 season. So theoretically, quadruple-doubles may have been recorded unofficially before that season.
Most Triple Doubles of All Time
Russell Westbrook has the most triple-doubles of all time with 194. Below are the top 10 leaders in triple-doubles in NBA history.
Triple Double Leaders
- Russell Westbrook – 194
- Oscar Robertson – 181
- Magic Johnson – 138
- Jason Kidd – 107
- LeBron James – 105
- Wilt Chamberlain – 78
- Nikola Jokić – 76
- James Harden – 69
- Larry Bird – 59
- Luka Dončić – 46
Triple-Doubles In NBA History
What Position gets the most Triple-Doubles?
The position that gets the most triple-doubles in basketball is the point guard. This is mainly because they run the offense and can easily reach 10 points and 10 assists if they are a good player. That is two-thirds of the way toward a triple-double already.
While it is also common for centers and big men to reach double figures in two statistical categories as well, points and rebounds in their case, it is important to note that it is generally easier for a point guard to get 10 rebounds than for a center or big man to get 10 assists. In NBA history, the top 4 leaders in triple-doubles are all point guards, Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Jason Kidd.
Who has the most Triple-Doubles as a Rookie?
Oscar Robertson currently has the record for most triple-doubles in the NBA as a rookie with 26 during the 1960-1961 season. That’s more than twice as much as any other rookie. Ben Simmons is 2nd with 12, which he achieved during the 2017-2018 season. Luka Doncic’s 8 a year later during the 2018-2019 season rank 3rd all-time.
Most 30 point Triple Doubles in NBA History
Oscar Robertson has the most 30 point triple-doubles in NBA history with 106. That’s about twice as much as the next closest player, Russell Westbrook.
Most 40 point Triple Doubles in NBA History
Oscar Robertson also has the most 40-point triple-doubles in NBA history with 22, although James Harden is gaining ground with 16.
Most 50 point Triple Doubles in NBA history
James Harden has the most 50-point triple-doubles in NBA history with 4. Russell Westbrook, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlain are the only other players to accomplish this feat multiple times like Harden.
James Harden’s 60 point Triple Double
In addition to his 4, 50-point triple-doubles, James Harden also had a 60-point triple-double with the Houston Rockets in 2018 against the Orlando Magic. This was the first and only 60-point triple-double in NBA history.
First NBA Player to record a triple double
Although stats from early NBA and ABA history are not always complete, Andy Phillip, a guard for the Philadelphia Warriors, amassed the first ever recorded triple-double in NBA history on December 14, 1950.
First Rookie to have a triple double
The first rookie in NBA history to officially record a triple-double was Bob Pettit, a power forward for the St. Louis Hawks. He achieved this feat during the 1954-1955 NBA season. In all likelihood, Bob Cousy was probably the first rookie to get a triple double during the 1950-1951 season. But unfortunately, his game stat logs from his rookie season are mostly incomplete.
Youngest person to get a triple double in the NBA
At 19 years and 84 days, Josh Giddey, the starting small forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.
NBA players that averaged a triple double for an entire season
Only two players in NBA history have averaged a triple-double for an entire season, Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson. Westbrook did it four times in 2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2020-2021. Oscar Robertson did it once during the 1961-1962 season.
How hard or easy is it to get a triple double?
For a frame of reference, take a brief look at the amount of triple doubles that some NBA legends were able to amass during their career.
How many triple doubles does Lebron have?
Lebron James is 5th all-time in triple-doubles with 105. James will most likely pass Jason Kidd during the upcoming 2022-2023 season for 4th all-time.
Wilt Chamberlain Triple Doubles
Before Nikola Jokic, Wilt Chamberlain was the most prolific big man to record triple-doubles, amassing 78 in his legendary career.
Oscar Robertson Triple Doubles
The original king of the triple double with 181 for his career, 2nd only to Russell Westbrook. Oscar Robertson’s total averages for his first 5 seasons in the league ended up being a triple double as well.
Kobe Bryant Triple Doubles
Although better known for being a great scorer and defensive player, Bryant still amassed 21 triple-doubles in his career, tying him with 3 other players, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 23rd on the all-time list.
Shaquille O’Neal Triple-Doubles
The most dominant center of the modern NBA, Shaquille O’Neal did not possess the overall versatility of Wilt Chamberlain and only recorded 2 triple-doubles during his playing days.
Scottie Pippen Triple-Doubles
Maybe the best “Robin” to the best “Batman” in NBA history, Scottie Pippen was a great all-around player that ended up with 17 triple-doubles for his career.
Allen Iverson Triple-Doubles
Known more for being a volume shooter, fierce competitor, and great scorer than an all-around stat sheet filler, Allen Iverson only recorded 1 triple-double for his career.
How many career triple doubles does Carmelo Anthony have?
A great scorer throughout his entire career, Carmelo Anthony has amassed only 2 triple-doubles during his playing days.
Steve Nash Triple Doubles
One of the most underrated and under appreciated point guards in NBA history. Steve Nash was able to record 3 triple-doubles during his time in the NBA.
Kyrie Irving Triple Doubles
Like Steve Nash, Kyrie Irving has recorded 3 triple-doubles, but will probably end up with several more before his career is over.
A more frequent occurrence of an impressive feat
Although some casual sports fans may ask, “What is a triple-double in basketball?”, all hard-core basketball fans know that a triple-double involves compiling at least 10 in 3 out of 5 statistical categories in basketball. Although it is a very impressive accomplishment, the increased offensive tempo and the greater number of possessions characteristic of the modern NBA have made the triple-double a more frequent occurrence than it used to be. While Oscar Robertson is generally considered the king of the triple-double, Russell Westbrook has since passed him in overall triple-doubles accrued for a career.