What is a Double Double in Basketball?

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You probably heard NBA commentators praising NBA players for getting a double double in a game. What is a double double in basketball? It’s a famous stat line that has NBA fans applauding and in awe if any player ever gets it. 

What is a Double Double in Basketball?

A double double is a statistical achievement made in basketball. When a player reaches double figures (10 or more) in two of basketball’s five main stat categories, the player has achieved a double double.  

The 5 main stat categories used by most basketball games are the:

  1. Points 
  2. Rebounds
  3. Assists
  4. Steals
  5. Blocks 

In the entirety of a basketball game, the forwards and centers usually achieve double doubles by points and rebounds. The guards commonly get their double doubles by points and assists. Double doubles through steals and blocks are rare to see. Some legendary NBA defensive players have achieved this, however.  

Who Has the Most Double Doubles in the NBA?

Since the 1983-84 season, Tim Duncan holds the record for the most career double doubles in the NBA. Tim Duncan played for the San Antonio Spurs (1997-2016) and has recorded 841 double doubles in his NBA career. 

It’s a different story when seasons before the 83-84 are counted. Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for having the most double doubles of all-time. He has 968 double doubles and has a career stat average of 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds per game.  

Former NBA player Wilt Chamberlain, record-holder for consecutive double doubles

Chamberlain also holds the record for consecutive double doubles with 227. Since post-merge of the NBA-ABA in 1976, Kevin Love holds the record of consecutive double doubles with 53.  

Notable Double Double Records

  • Youngest Player: Tracy McGrady, aged 18 years and 175 days. He recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds. 
  • Oldest Player: Dikembe Mutombo, aged 42 years and 289 days. He recorded 10 points and 15 rebounds
  • 40-40 Double Double: Wilt Chamberlain is the only player to record 40 plus double double in NBA history. 

What is a Triple Double? 

A triple double is an achievement where a player gets double figures (10 or more) in three of the five main stat categories. It’s extremely rare to get a triple, let alone average one. 

The term triple double was popularized in 1980 by Harvey Pollack and Bruce Jolesch. Achieving a triple double in NBA is a difficult feat. Those who managed to record triple doubles are considered great NBA players. 

How Do You Get a Triple Double in Basketball?

Most triple doubles come from the three main stat categories of points, assists, and rebounds. You have to be a very talented basketball player in order to achieve it. It requires you to score the ball in the hoop, share the ball to your teammates, and rebound the ball. 

What’s more difficult is getting a triple double with steals or blocks. In 2018-19 season, the stats leader for blocks was Myles Turner and he only averaged 2.69 blocks per game. Even in steals, the highest is 2.21 by Paul George

Players who recorded triple doubles with the steals or blocks stats are notably known for their defensive abilities like Hakeem Olajuwon and Draymond Green. 

While it is extremely difficult to get a triple double, there are a few things players can do to help increase their chances of doing so.

First, it’s crucial that they are wearing quality basketball shoes that properly fit. It might sound obvious, but if players are busy thinking about how their shoes feel a little uncomfortable, it will take their mind off the game.

Second, players need to focus on not doing illegal moves, such as carrying the ball. Every second they spend doing something incorrectly results in less time they have to achieve a triple double.

Who Has the Most Triple Doubles in NBA History?

The current holder of the most triple doubles in NBA History is Oscar “The Big O” Robertson. He tallied a total of 181 triple doubles in his 14-year career in the NBA. He’s also the first player to average a triple double in a single season. 

He was soon followed by Russel Westbrook who averaged a triple double in 3 straight seasons (2016-2019). In 2016, Westbrook tallied 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists and was named the Most Valuable Player in that season. 

A basketball player in defense tries to steal the ball

Notable Triple Double Records

  • Most Triple Double in a season: Russel Westbrook got a total of 42 triple doubles in the 2016-17 season. 
  • Youngest Player: Markelle Fultz, aged 19 years and 317 days. He tallied 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. 
  • Oldest Player: Karl Malone, aged 40 years and 127 days. Malone recorded 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists against the San Antonio Spurs. 
  • Fastest Triple Double: Nikola Jokic recorded the fastest triple double in an NBA game. He achieved the record in 14 minutes and 33 seconds against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Has Anyone Had a Quintuple Double in Basketball?

No NBA player has ever recorded a quintuple double in an official NBA game. There were players who came close to reaching it though. 

Hakeem Olajuwon had a quadruple double and came close to a quintuple double. He had 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, 11 blocks but only 1 steal. He had 3 games in total where he came close to reaching the legendary feat. 

Other notable players that came close to reaching a quintuple double are David Robinson, Andrei Kirilenko, and Draymond Green. 

Conclusion

Getting a statistical achievement is no easy feat. Players get to be etched in the history books. If you want to impress coaches and other players, maybe you should try and get a double double. 

Remember also that basketball is a team sport and not a statistical competition. What’s more important is winning the game for your team.