What Is a Triple-Double in Basketball?

A Triple Double in basketball is referred to, as when a player enters into double figures that score “ten or up” in any of the 5 statistical categories of basketball. Primarily, the 5 categories include, points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots.

The minimum number of categories to get into mandatorily with a double score, to achieve the position of Triple-Double is “3”, while maximally, there could be any possible combination among 5. Usually, the 3 most popular categories in which players cross the dual figures are points, rebounds, and assists. This is the most common form of triple-double and nearly all the players achieve the triple-dribble excelling in these three categories, as reaching double figures in steals or blocks is extremely rare. Yet the variation is definitely possible, for example, 10 points, 15 rebounds, 12 blocks but again, they’re far rarer.

What Is a Triple-Double in Basketball

Elaborately, for instance, if the player scores 12 rebounds, makes 15 points, and assists 18 shots, the player has accomplished 10+(i.e double digits) scores in the 3 categories. Hence, the term triple-double justifies the Triple that is the 3 categories (minimum), and double refers to being entered into the double figure.

Similarly, the concepts hold for:

Double-Double: When a player scores ten or more in TWO categories. Points and rebounds DD combination is commonly brought off by ‘big men’ where points and assists combination by the ‘guards’.

Quadruple-Doubles: Is for 4 categories with scores of 10 or up.

Quintuple-Doubles: When ALL FIVE tier’s score enters the double-digit, which happens in rare cases typically.

How to Score a Triple-Double in Basketball?

The quick answer to the question is, to strive to have command over multiple skill sets. The only thing that leads the player into a triple-double is proficiency in playing all variations of statistical categories.

Any combination of achievements can result in a triple-double, but some combos are more likely to do so than others. The most typical triple-double consists of a point total, a rebound total, and an assist total. There are instances where steals or blocks can be a part of a triple-double, however, they are less often. It’s crucial to have a wide range of abilities if you want to get a triple-double.

Triple-Double Records by Players

Numerous players have marked records with their potency and capabilities in excelling the triple-double. During the 1979–80 NBA season, the triple-double became an official statistical category and so the list of top performers for this feat includes many of the most well-known players and all-star athletes.

1. Andy Phillip recorded the first triple-double in 1950 in the NBA play.

2. James Harden with ten rebounds and eleven assists, scoring sixty points in total, James Harden leads the league for most points in a triple-double.

3. Luka Dončić with 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in just 25 minutes and 30 seconds of play, Luka now owns the triple-double history for the fewest minutes in a 30-point triple-double.

4. Wilt Chamberlain Wilt Chamberlain currently maintains the record for the most double-doubles in a career (968), is ranked sixth for triple-doubles during the regular season, and is ranked eighth for triple-doubles during the postseason.

5. LeBron James currently, LeBron James owns a record of 89 triple-doubles in the regular season and 28 in the postseason.

6. Russell Westbrook owns the record for the most career triple-doubles in a single season with a total of 187.

7. Magic Johnson With thirty, Magic Johnson owns the record for the most triple-doubles in the postseason.

Where Does a Triple-Double Come From? Triple-Double History

Although basketball was invented in 1891, triple-doubles weren’t officially documented until around 1980. For the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, respectively, statisticians are responsible for the words “triple-double” and “Harvey Pollack.”

Over time, basketball fans and the general public have grown to love the triple-double statistic. The triple-double was explained in the 1983 edition of the spectator’s guide to basketball along with other basketball terms. The phrase was originally used in 1986 in The New Yorker and a book on Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, which introduced it to readers. The next year, it was noted that Oscar Robertson, a 1960s NBA standout, held the all-time record for triple-doubles in a book titled 101 Greatest Athletes of the Century.

The triple-double gained notoriety after beginning as a rather obscure statistic and was referred to as a “common measuring stick” by The Denver Post and The Economist. In modern basketball, there are now much more triple-doubles recorded in a season. According to Sports Illustrated, from 1990 to 2011, there were roughly 30 per year. 2018 saw 108 of them. This prompted the sports news portal SBNation to proclaim that we are “living in the boom period of triple-doubles,” but some have critiqued the triple-double as an exaggerated indicator of aptitude and ability.

How Often Do NBA Players Get a Triple-Double?

Historically, there were 138 various active players that recorded a triple-double in the 2020–2021 NBA season. The most were tallied by Russell Westbrook with 40, followed by Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets with 17.

However, the achievement of triple dribble solely depends on the player’s skillset and versatility. The more pro and competent the player is (in playing multiple roles), the more chances to win a triple-double are.

How Often Do Triple-Doubles Occur in the WNBA?

Being far less common in WNBA, only two triple-doubles have occurred in the playoffs out of the roughly ten that have occurred so far. Courtney Vandersloot and Sheryl Swoopes are level for the most triple-doubles in a career with two each. 

How Rare Are Triple Doubles?

The truth is, triple-doubles have become more common in the past few years, especially in the NBA leagues. The triple-doubles may not be achieved on a nightly basis, yet the considerable rise does raise the question of why it has become so common.

Well, multiple reasons are the cause. Firstly, the pace of the basketball game has increased quickly in the past years. Thence, more pace of the game leads to more opportunities for the players to mark the records in different categories.

Secondly, even players nowadays are self-interested to have a grasp over multiple skills which outcomes in their appreciable performance of theirs. Moreover, since the plays of static positions are overcome, and as the modern NBA has more become positionless, the chances of an increase in stats have exponentially increased too.

Thus input of such multiple factors has tremendously incremented the triple-double since the last years.

Who Got the First Triple-Double in Basketball?

Andy Phillip is the owner of the first triple-double. In a basketball match against the Fort Wayne Pacers on December 14, 1950, Andy Phillip of the Philadelphia Warriors achieved the triple-double feat. He finished the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Who Were the Youngest Players to Record a Triple-Double?

At the age of 19, the great LaMelo Ball became the youngest player to get a triple-double. To complete the feat, LaMelo Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists.

However, Several times in the past few years, the record for the youngest player to record a triple-double has been broken. Markelle Fultz, a former first-round choice, made history by becoming the first teenager to record a triple-double in an NBA game. While before LaMelo, Luka Doni, a superstar from Slovenia who is just 10 days Fultz’s age, earned the second.

What Is the Fastest Triple-Double in the NBA History?

Jim Tucker spent seventeen minutes creating the first record, which was made in 1955.

Later, Nikola Jokic smashed the record when he completed a triple-double in 14 minutes and 33 seconds. 30 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists made up his ultimate stat total. The achievement happened in 2018 during a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.


In conclusion, a player who achieves a triple-double in basketball has ten (or up) scores in three of the five defined categories. The statistics of triple-double are without a doubt the most accurate indicators of a player’s ability and potential.

Needless to mention, to win a triple-double, proper training and practice in all scopes be it points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocked shots is the key.

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