What is a triple double in basketball? The triple-double is an accomplishment in the sport of basketball. Many of the most famous players and all-star athletes are high in the rankings for this achievement.
What Is a Double-Double?
The double-double refers to a single-game performance in which a basketball player scores ten or more of at least two of the following statistical categories: points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocked shots. The first “double” refers to there being two categories in which this achievement has been reached, and the second “double” refers to double-digits or double figures—ten or more points, rebounds, steals, etc.
What Is a Triple-Double?
A triple-double in basketball occurs when a player scores ten or more in three different categories, including points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocked shots. For example, over the course of the game, a player may score eighteen points, make fifteen rebounds, and assist twelve shots, completing a triple-double in that game. Less common are quadruple-doubles, when a player scores ten or more for four categories, and quintuple-doubles for five categories.
How to Score a Triple-Double
A triple-double can work with any combination of accomplishments, but some combinations are more likely to occur than others. The most common triple-double involves a combination of points, rebounds, and assists. Although less common, there are cases when steals or blocks can be part of a triple-double. To score a triple-double, it is important to have versatility in skills.
Players With Record Triple-Doubles
During the 1979–80 NBA season, the triple-double became an official statistical category. Today, double-doubles and double-triples are recorded at many different levels: high school, college, and professional leagues. Some of the most famous holders of this distinction are at the professional level:
Andy Phillip: Andy Phillip of the Philadelphia Warriors was the NBA player to record the first triple-double, in a 1950 NBA game against the Fort Wayne Pistons.
Russell Westbrook: Westbrook, point guard for the Washington Wizards, formerly of the Oklahoma City Thunder, holds the highest number of career triple-doubles during the regular season, at one hundred and eighty-seven. As the current triple-double leader, Westbrook is also known as one of only two players to average a triple-double over a single season; the other is Oscar Robertson (“The Big O”) of the Cincinnati Royals.
Magic Johnson: Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers holds the record for the highest number of triple-doubles in the postseason with thirty.
James Harden: James Harden of the Houston Rockets is first in the standings for most points scored in a triple-double, with sixty points. He made ten rebounds and eleven assists to complete that triple-double in 2018.
LeBron James: LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers currently has a record of ninety-nine triple-doubles in regular season, and twenty-eight in the playoffs.
Luka Dončić: Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks is another active player who has been racking up triple-doubles. He currently holds the triple-double record for the fewest minutes in 30-point triple-double, scoring thirty-five points, ten rebounds, and ten assists while playing for twenty-five minutes and thirty seconds.
Larry Kenon: Former players Larry Kenon (San Antonio Spurs) and Kendall Gill (New Jersey Nets) share the record for most steals in a triple-double, with eleven.
Kendall Gill: Kendall Gill of the New Jersey Nets is tied with Larry Kenon for the most steals in a triple double.
Wilt Chamberlain: Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, LA Lakers) holds the record for career double-doubles at nine hundred and sixty-eight, is number six on the regular season record board for triple-doubles, and number eight in the postseason rankings for triple-doubles.
Dwyane Wade: Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) is one of the only players in NBA history to have achieved a triple-double in their final career game; he logged a triple-double against the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.
Nikola Jokic: Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) has the record for the fastest triple-double, logging the feat fourteen minutes and thirty-three seconds into a 2018 game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sometimes, triple-doubles will be logged by players on opposing teams in the same game. Jason Kidd, Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry, Larry Bird, among others, have been involved with these.
What is a triple double?
A triple double is recorded when a player logs 10 or more of three statistical categories in the box score. For example, a stat line of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists would constitute a triple double.
Points is of course the easiest category to reach double-digit numbers in. Above average post players will routinely log double-doubles by recording double-digit points and rebounds, but fall short of the triple-double because they lack stellar passing ability.
Triple doubles can also be accumulated by notching 10 or more steals or blocks as well, but these categories are notably harder to rack up numbers in. All this helps illustrate how difficult obtaining a triple double is. A player must have a very well-rounded game to even get close to recording one.
Who had the most triple doubles in 2022-23?
As such, only the most versatile and valuable players typically record triple doubles routinely. So it is fitting that Nikola Jokic held the record for most triple doubles last season. He put up 29 of them in the regular season before leading the Denver Nuggets to their first championship in the playoffs.
The next player behind Jokic in triple doubles was Domantas Sabonis with 14, then Luka Doncic at third place with 10. All three of these players consistently elevate their teams with their polished all-around play.
Maybe the most notable entry here is Kyle Anderson, who climbed all the way to third on the list in just one season with the Timberwolves. It is very likely he passes Ricky Rubio for second place before the end of next season.
Anthony Edwards is certainly a contender to climb up this list sooner rather than later. He is yet to record his first career triple double, but should be reaching that goal in short order as his game continues expanding.
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