What is the definition of a triple-double in basketball?
Why is it called a triple-double?
The name “triple-double” refers to the two elements required to earn this achievement:
- “Triple” means that a player must reach a certain number in three of the qualifying statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
- “Double” means that a player must accrue double digits (10 or more) in each of those three categories.
Which basketball statistics count toward a triple-double?
In order to achieve a triple-double, a basketball player must get a double-digit total in three of the following statistical categories:
Although there are numerous combinations that a player can have to get a triple-double, the most common statistical combination is when a player records at least 10 points, 10 rebounds (REB) and 10 assists (AST) in a single game. Points can come from free throws, field goals and three-pointers.
Although not as common, a player will sometimes record at least 10 blocks in a game, as well as 10 or more in two other categories, to get a triple-double. Centers and power forwards are more likely to attain a triple-double by way of blocked shots.
Do turnovers count toward a triple-double?
Turnovers do not count toward a triple-double. If a player were to get double digits in turnovers while also getting double figures in two other categories such as points and rebounds, the player would not be credited with a triple-double.
How rare are triple-doubles?
Although triple-doubles are challenging to accomplish, they are not rare. In today’s game, triple-doubles are achieved in every National Basketball Association (NBA) season. However, they aren’t achieved on a nightly basis.
It wasn’t until recent years that NBA players like Russell Westbrook and James Harden began achieving this statistical feat on a regular basis. Despite triple-doubles being accomplished in the NBA every season, there are teams that can go a whole season without having a player achieve this.
Who has the most triple-doubles in NBA history?
The NBA player with the most career triple-doubles is Russell Westbrook, a point guard and nine-time NBA All-Star who has played for a number of teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. As of the 2022-2023 season, Westbrook has a total of 198 triple-doubles. He earned the NBA’s MVP Award in 2017 following his single-season record of 42 triple-doubles.
In second place is Oscar Robertson, a point guard for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks who played in the NBA from 1960 through 1974. He was one of the first NBA players to achieve triple-doubles on a frequent basis, and was the first player to average a triple-double for an entire season.
The following list includes the top ten players with the most career triple-doubles, including some active players who will likely surpass their current totals:
- Russell Westbrook: 198
- Oscar Robertson: 181
- Magic Johnson: 138
- LeBron James: 107
- Jason Kidd: 107
- Nikola Jokić: 105
- Wilt Chamberlain: 78
- James Harden: 74
- Larry Bird: 59
- Luka Dončić: 56
How many triple-doubles did Michael Jordan have?
Thanks to his prowess on the court, Michael Jordan was able to record 28 triple-doubles during his professional basketball career. This puts him at 20th on the list among NBA players with the most career triple-doubles.
Who has the most triple-doubles in WNBA history?
In the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Alyssa Thomas holds the record for the most career triple-doubles with four. Both Candace Parker and Sabrina Ionescu have three, while Sheryl Swoopes and Courtney Vandersloot each have two. In total, 11 WNBA players have recorded triple-doubles in the league’s history.
As of the 2022 season, the total number of triple-doubles in the WNBA is 20, of which 16 occurred during the regular season and four during the playoffs. This number increased dramatically during the 2022 season when nine of the 20 triple-doubles in league history were recorded. Alyssa Thomas achieved all four of hers during the 2022 season, including two back-to-back triple-doubles in the WNBA Finals.
Triple-doubles aren’t nearly as common in the WNBA as they are in the NBA. However, the league is significantly smaller and games are slightly shorter, which contributes to this discrepancy.
Who has the most triple-doubles in an NBA season?
Russell Westbrook, who holds the all-time record for the most triple-doubles in NBA history, also holds the single-season triple-double record. In the 2016-2017 season, Westbrook recorded a total of 42 triple-doubles. He also holds the third, fourth and ninth single-season triple-double records as of the 2022-2023 season.
This list features the NBA players with the most triple-doubles in a single season as of the 2022-2023 season:
- Russell Westbrook: 42 – 2016-17
- Oscar Robertson: 41 – 1961-62
- Russell Westbrook: 38 – 2020-21
- Russell Westbrook: 34 – 2018-19
- Wilt Chamberlain: 31 – 1967-68
- Nikola Jokić: 29 – 2022-23
- Oscar Robertson: 26 – 1960-61
- Oscar Robertson: 26 – 1963-64
- Russell Westbrook: 25 – 2017-18
- Oscar Robertson: 22 – 1964-65
- Wilt Chamberlain: 22 – 1966-67
- James Harden: 22 – 2016-2017
Has anyone averaged a triple-double per game?
During the 1961-1962 season, Oscar Robertson became the first NBA player to average a triple-double per game. He recorded a total of 41 triple-doubles that season.
Before the 2016-2017 season, no other player besides Oscar Robertson had averaged a triple-double during an entire NBA season. It was during the 2016-2017 season that Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder recorded averages of 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists for the year, marking only the second time in the history of the NBA that a player had averaged a triple-double per game.
When did the NBA start tracking triple-doubles?
The NBA started officially tracking the triple-double statistic in the 1979-1980 season. The number of triple-doubles increased significantly during that season, with 32 compared to just 20 the previous season.
From the time that triple-doubles were first tracked until the 1990-1991 season, there were 543 triple-doubles. However, over 25% of those were recorded by Magic Johnson, and upon his retirement, the number of triple-doubles declined.
Triple-doubles started to occur more frequently during regular season and playoff games beginning in the 2015-2016 season. A significant number of the triple-doubles recorded since then have been achieved by Russell Westbrook, who currently holds the record for the most career triple-doubles in the NBA.
Related statistical achievements in basketball
Similar to the triple-double, other types of statistical achievements can be earned by accruing a certain number across multiple stat categories during a single game.
What is a double-double?
A double-double occurs when a basketball player reaches double digits in two statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) in a single game. Double-doubles are relatively common in the NBA and WNBA as well as in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and high school basketball.
What is a quadruple-double?
A quadruple-double happens when a player accrues double digits in four or more statistical categories in a single game.
Has anyone gotten a quadruple-double?
The quadruple-double is a rare feat at the professional level. It has only been accomplished four times in the NBA since the statistic was first tracked beginning in the 1973-1974 season:
- 1974: Nate Thurmond
- 1986: Alvin Robertson
- 1990: Hakeem Olajuwon
- 1994: David Robinson
What is a quintuple-double?
A quintuple-double occurs when a player accrues double digits in five or more statistical categories in a single game.
Who hit a quintuple-double?
There have been three officially recorded quintuple-doubles, all of which happened in girls’ high school basketball. At the professional level, this achievement has never been officially recorded, though some claim that Wilt Chamberlain earned a quintuple-double in 1968 before the statistics for steals and blocks were tracked. In 1987, Hakeem Olajuwon came close to a quintuple-double when he recorded 38 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, 7 steals and 12 blocks in a double overtime game.
What is a five-by-five?
A five-by-five is the term used to describe when a player gets at least five in each of the five statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) in a single game. The only NBA players with multiple five-by-fives are Hakeem Olajuwon, who has six, and Andrei Kirilenko, who has three.
Examples of how triple-double is used in commentary
1. Paul George finished the night with the first triple-double of his career. His final numbers of the night were 23 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.
2. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić is set to record a triple-double against the Philadelphia 76ers, which would give him a boost of confidence going into Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors.
Sport the term is used