What Is a Triple-Double in Basketball? Triple-Double Explained

Over the last decade, the style of play in the NBA has evolved immensely due to the increased level of skill and athleticism of players of all sizes and positions. With this new style of play, the accomplishment known as the "triple-double" has become noticeably more common than ever before.

What is a triple-double?

A triple-double occurs when a player records (3) ten or more figures in three out of the five main statistical categories, which include:

  • Points
  • Rebounds
  • Assists
  • Steals
  • Blocks

While a triple-double is not limited to any three specific categories, they are most often seen with points, rebounds, and assists.

How common is a triple-double?

During the 2020-2021 NBA season, 138 triple-doubles were recorded in the regular season, and 14 during the playoffs.

2020-2021 triple-double leaders:

  1. Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards: 40
  2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: 17
  3. James Harden, Brooklyn Nets: 13
  4. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks: 11
  5. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers: 10

Triple-double record holders

  1. Andy Phillip:​ Andy Phillip is credited for recording the first triple-double in NBA history as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors in 1950.
  2. Nikola Jokic:​ Nikola Jokic is on record for tallying the fastest triple-double in NBA history at fourteen minutes and thirty-three seconds in 2018.
  3. Russell Westbrook​: Russell Westbrook is one of only two players in NBA history to average a triple-double through a full season, joining Oscar Robertson as the only other player to do so. Westbrook averaged a triple-double in four individual seasons, a record that will likely stand for decades to come.
  4. Russell Westbrook​: Russell Westbrook is also known for recording the most career triple-doubles, both regular season and playoffs combined, tallying 193 through January 2022.
  5. Magic Johnson​: Magic Johnson is recognized for recording the most career triple-doubles in the playoffs, totaling thirty as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
  6. Josh Giddey​: Josh Giddey is the youngest player to ever record a triple-double in the NBA, at just nineteen years and eighty-four days old.
  7. James Harden​: James Harden is in the record books for scoring the highest number of points in a triple-double, scoring sixty in a 2018 game as a member of the Houston Rockets.
  8. Larry Kenon and Kendall Gill​: Larry Kenon and Kendall Gill are tied for the most steals recorded in a triple-double, totaling eleven in a game as members of the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets, respectively.
  9. Luka Doncic​: Luka Doncic is on record as playing the fewest minutes in a thirty point triple-double, logging only twenty-five minutes and thirty seconds to score thirty-five points and go along with ten rebounds and ten assists.
  10. Dwyane Wade​: Dwyane Wade is the only player in NBA history to record a triple-double in their final career game, accomplishing the feat in 2019 against the Brooklyn Nets.
  11. Draymond Green​: Draymond Green is the only player in NBA history to record a triple-double without scoring ten points, as he finished with twelve rebounds, ten assists, and ten steals in a 2017 game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Triple-doubles in the WNBA

While becoming more common in the NBA, triple-doubles are a rare occurrence in the WNBA. To this day, there have only been ten recorded triple-doubles in total, with two coming in the postseason. Sheryl Swoopes and Courtney Vandersloot are tied for the most career triple-doubles in WNBA history with two.

Crazy, but true:​ WNBA legend Tamika Catchings once recorded a quintuple-double while at Duncanville High School in Texas. Her stat line:

  • 25 points
  • 18 rebounds
  • 11 assists
  • 10 steals
  • 10 blocks

What is a double-double?

A double-double is similar to a triple-double, but instead, involves (2) ten or more figures in each of the main statistical categories.

NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain is the all-time leader in career double-doubles, totaling 968 over his fifteen seasons in the league.