What is a Triple Double in Basketball? Basketball 101

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In this era of basketball, many times, we hear people going on and on about triple-doubles. Triple doubles based on how they sound may seem extremely important as they relate to the outcome of a basketball game. If you watch the NBA or sports talk shows, it is essential to know what is a triple-double is so that you can follow a lot of the conversations about basketball.

We understand that triple-doubles are becoming more frequent in today’s game, and people want to know what it means to get a triple-double and their importance. Triple-doubles are products of player’s performances in good statistical categories of basketball. In this article, we will thoroughly analyze and explain the triple-double. We will help you to appreciate triple-doubles by explaining their significance and how they happen.

What Does a Triple-Double Mean in BasketballWhat Does a Triple-Double Mean in Basketball?

The word triple refers to number three, and the word double relates to number two. When placed together in a single word, they mean three numbers and that are in double digits. So, what is a triple-double in basketball? In basketball, there are five major positive statistical categories.

These categories are used when determining if a player has achieved a triple-double in a game.

The five categories include points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. If a player has 10 or more of any three of these categories in a single game, then they are considered to have a triple-double. For example, if a player scores 10 points dishes out 10 assists and manages to grab 10 rebounds as well, then they would get a triple-double as they would have achieved a double-digit score for three positive categories.

If a player gets 10 points 10 rebounds and 10 turnovers, then they would not be considered to have a triple-double. This is not considered a triple-double because turnovers are not in a positive statistical category.

A triple-double can be achieved without points being included. For example, if a player scores 5 Points but still manages 10 or more rebounds, 10 or more assists, and 10 or more blocks, they would still have double-digit scores for three positive statistical categories. This would still be considered a triple-double.

How Common is a Triple-Double in BasketballHow Common is a Triple-Double in Basketball?

Triple doubles are extremely difficult to achieve. Triple-doubles were very rare in the past, and only a handful of players had the skill to get some. In today’s game, the triple-double is becoming more of a thing, but that does not mean they are common. They are more popular, and they are happening more frequently than in past years; however, they are not exactly common.

There are a few players in the NBA that are averaging or average close to triple-double statistics. When you look at the number of players in the league, you realize that this is not exactly a common thing. Let’s put this into context by comparing it to the more common double-double. In the 2019 to 2020 NBA season, over 30 players have achieved 20+ double-doubles this season, while only three players have achieved over 10 triple-doubles this season. So, when we look at it from this angle, yes, the triple-double is happening more often than in the past; however, this does not mean it is common.

The triple-double is not common because it is very difficult for players to produce so many things on the court while playing for their team’s success. Russell Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for multiple seasons, and he said it himself, “If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would.” Some players, based on their natural abilities, skill sets, and built, can get triple-doubles a lot easier than others.

In addition to being physically superior to other players, getting triple-doubles also require a mindset that makes you want to play hard on every possession. Players that have the most triple-doubles are often the players that are playing the hardest on the floor.

How Common is a Triple-Double in Basketball

Take into consideration Russell Westbrook AKA Westbeast. No one on this planet can honestly say that Russell Westbrook is not the king of energy on a basketball court. This comes from the mindset that Russ plays with. He does not take any plays off, he always wants to contribute, and he never stops going. This is why he can have the second-most triple-doubles in the history of the NBA.

Other players may not be as hungry but are naturally dominant such as Luka Doncic and LeBron James. LeBron James has been a force to reckon with ever since the first time he set foot on an NBA court.  LeBron James has the built, the speed, the vision, the strength, and of the basketball IQ to almost put his stats wherever he wants them to be on a nightly basis. 

Luka Doncic is just extraordinary. Luca is one of the youngest players in the history of the NBA to be putting up the numbers that he has been putting up in the last two seasons. Luca seems to have made the transition from playing in Euroleague basketball to the NBA, a seamless one.

Luka Doncic’s numbers are phenomenal, especially for a player of his young age. Luca is one of those effortless scorers that reminds some people of Larry Bird, and he also has the size, vision, and speed to grab rebounds and the dish out dimes. He has a good basketball IQ because he has been playing the game at a very high level ever since he was just a kid. All of these factors combined, put him in a unique place to be averaging almost a triple-double at just the tender age of 21.

How Can You Get a Triple-Double in BasketballHow Can You Get a Triple-Double in Basketball?

To get a triple-double in basketball, a player must get double-digit points in three of the five positive statistical categories, including points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. To get a single double in a basketball game is sometimes difficult, not to mention a triple-double. Players with the main scoring responsibilities on the team can score over 10 points, but how can they get double digits in the other statistical categories? Wing players will need to work on dropping down for the boards and dishing out dimes if they want to get triple-doubles. Big men should be able to grab close to double-digit rebounds if they are good at what they do and should be able to score double-digit points as well.

These two stats will earn them a cool double-double, but if you are a basketball player, you know these aren’t exactly easy to come by. Now that they have gotten the double-double, they now need to find another category to get double digits points from, and that is where the challenge comes in.

Big men that want triple-doubles need to work on their passing skills to rack up assists. Point guards should be able to score double digits in points, and if they are team has good conversion rates, they can get to double-digit assist with some efforts. The challenge comes in with the other categories.

Point guards who want to have triple-doubles can either work on their speed and agility to get steals, but the easiest thing is for them to work with their team in order to get rebounds. The point we are trying to make is that getting a triple-double is easier said than done. To get a triple-double, you will need to work on multiple aspects of your game, and you will also need a fair amount of help from your teammates.

Who Has the Most Triple Doubles of All TimeWho Has the Most Triple Doubles of All Time?

Let’s now take a look at the triple-double basketball leaders. Only a few of the greatest players are on this list. The list is headed by Oscar Robinson, who has 181 triple-doubles for his career. Russell Westbrook has 146 triple-doubles so far, and we all can agree it’s a safe bet to say he has plenty more to add to that number.

The closest active player to Russell Westbrook on the list is LeBron James, with 94 triple-doubles for his long career. The NBA Triple double leader in a season is Russell Westbrook. He holds a record 42 triple-doubles in a single season. He got to the top of the chart by breaking Oscar Robertson’s previous record of 41.

Who is the Youngest NBA Player to Get a Triple-DoubleWho is the Youngest NBA Player to Get a Triple-Double?

Here’s a name we don’t hear too often these days. Markelle Fultz. At the age of 19, Michael Fultz was able to achieve a triple-double on April 11th, 2018. While playing for the Philadelphia 76ers in a victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, Markelle Fultz was able to score 13 points, dish out 10 assists, and grab 10 rebounds.

Wrapping Things Up: Triple Double in Basketball

Triple doubles are becoming more popular in today’s game, but they are still not exactly common. There are a few players in the NBA with exceptional physical attributes and skills that can stand out when it comes to triple-doubles, but that does not represent the entire league.
Players that want to have triple-doubles need to work on their games outside of what is expected. Guards and wing players need to work on grabbing rebounds while bigs need to work on their assist game.

There are two other categories on the defensive end of the court. Steals and blocks are much more challenging to come by, but they are still possible. Until next time ballers, keep hustling. Find the Westbeast in you. 

Because you read this post, you might also like to read our post on what is a double double in basketball.

If you found this post helpful, check out our other basketball FAQ articles here

> What are the 5 Basic Skills of Basketball?

> What is Rebounding in Basketball?

> What is an Assist in Basketball?

> What is a Steal in Basketball?

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