What is a Triple-Double in Basketball?

If you are a regular at basketball games, or a player yourself, you have probably heard of triple-doubles.

Triple double sounds contradictory, which may make you wonder why they put such two words together. Therefore, you might ask, "what is a triple-double in basketball?" The answer to that is straightforward. One of them is constant, and the other changes.

The "triple" refers to statistical categories in basketball, while "double" is just the score, which must be two digits. So, the double is always constant since it relates to double digits anyway.

The triple is what changes according to what category you're considering. The officials count triple-doubles per game, so you must work towards getting it at the end of the fourth quarter in a game. That means you cannot accumulate them over a series of games. 

triple double

There are other types of "doubles" in basketball, for example, the double-double and the quadruple-double. They are both the same as triple-doubles. The difference is a reduced statistical category for the former and an added one for the latter. 

A triple-double is a considerable achievement in basketball. The more you get, the more you're revered. That also means that you are a skillful player. Don't worry if you're still confused. We will explain more about triple-doubles and how to get them. 

What are the Statistical Categories in Basketball?

Any double is calculated from the five statistical categories in basketball.

These categories are:

  1. Points - PTS
  2. Rebounds - REB
  3. Assists - AST
  4. Steals - STL
  5. Blocked shots - BLK

The first three are the main categories the officials will use when calculating any double.

However, it is possible to replace any of the main categories with the other 2 when calculating doubles. So, instead of PTS, REB, AST, it could be PTS, REB, STL, or any other possible way to replace any main categories. 

So how do these categories explain the types of doubles in basketball? Read this brief definition, and you will understand more. 

Double-double: This is getting double scores in two statistical categories, and they are the most ordinary and most straightforward to accomplish. A double-double in basketball looks like this: 12 PTS, 15 REB.

Triple double: This is getting double scores in three statistical categories. Triple-doubles are rare, hard to accomplish, but very possible. A triple-double looks like this: 18 PTS, 15 REB, 12 AST.

Quadruple double: This is when you get double scores in four categories. Quadruple-doubles are very rare and not easily achieved. A quadruple-double looks like this: 18 PTS, 15 REB, 12 AST, 16 BLK. 

These are the three groups of doubles in basketball. Out of all three, a double-double is the most common. It is also the one every basketball player puts more emphasis on getting. 

Which Players Have Accomplished a Triple-Double? 

As difficult as it is to accomplish a triple-double, different NBA players have achieved a triple-double. Some of these players even got multiple triple-doubles. 

Here is a list of some famous NBA players and the number of triple-doubles they have accomplished.

  1. Magic Johnson - 138
  2. Jason Kidd - 107
  3. James Harden - 58
  4. Nikola Jokic - 57
  5. Russell Westbrook - 184
  6. Oscar Robertson - 181
  7. Micheal Jordan - 28
  8. Lebron James - 99
  9. Wilt Chamberlain - 78
  10. Larry Bird - 59

Russell Westbrook has the highest triple-double ever in NBA history, and Wilt Chamberlain accomplished the most outstanding triple-double. The triple-double was 22 PTS, 25 REB, 21 AST. That is a 20+ triple-double, and they are generally called a 20:20:20 triple-double.

You may wonder if it's possible to get a double in all five statistical types. The answer is yes.

An unrivaled feat by Wilt Chamberlain, the outstanding record was 53 PTS, 32 REB, 14 AST, 24 BLK, 11 STL. He did achieve this in a single game in 1968. Until now, no one has been able to break that record. 

Why Is It Difficult to Get a Triple-Double?

As we have said before, creating a triple-double is difficult. That is because of the skills and abilities required from a player to get them.

Well, difficult doesn't mean unachievable, as you can see that some players have hundreds of triple-doubles to their names.

To make a triple-double, you need to focus on getting double digits in each statistical category. You need to be an all-around player who can quickly get scores counted for all statistical types when doing this.

Of course, with more emphasis on points, scores, and rebounds. That is why a triple-double is difficult.

Most players have one or two categories where they excel greatly. However, you have to excel at most categories to get a triple-double. This renders it a difficult accomplishment. 

How to Get a Triple Double

Getting a triple-double requires expertise, and you have to be focused and versatile with a lot of stamina. 

  1. Focus on each of the statistical categories. Points are the easiest to get, while steals are the hardest. If you are a forward or center player, rebounds will be easy for you to get. Assists require ball handlers and other players to help you get them. Blocks, on the other hand, are only a little easier than steals. They are hard to get scores as well.
  2. Be determined to get a triple-double. Be willing to put in the work. Remember that you have four quarters to obtain double digits in any category.
  3. In more ways than one, your intellectual capabilities are incredibly important in the game of basketball. However, the importance of your physical capabilities can also not be overstated. You have to be strong to get a triple-double in a single game, and stamina is necessary. Anyone trying to accomplish this will expend lots of energy to get a double-digit in some statistical categories. That will leave you exhausted. Strong stamina is what will keep you going until the end of the game.
  4. You must be versatile if you want to get a triple-double. You must also be able to box out and be overall skillful. A combination of all these skills is sure to get you a triple-double. 
  5. Timing is also essential when playing a basketball game, and it is even more important when trying for a triple-double. You need to know the time to assert yourself in the game. This will help focus your attention, ultimately getting you more scores in the categories. Having good timing will also help you not exhaust yourself before achieving your goal.

Conclusion : Triple Double Basketball

A triple-double in basketball is not that hard to understand and certainly is not as confusing as it sounds. The keyword to understanding triple-double is that the double means double digits, and the triple is about the statistical categories. 

As difficult as it is to get a triple-double in a single game, triple-doubles are possible, and many NBA players have achieved them, some multiple times.

The next time you watch a game, we hope you'll be able to guess which player is aiming for a triple-double. Maybe you can also predict who will get it at the end of the game.

If you like to play a basketball game now and then, why not get a triple-double next time. We bet it would be fun accomplishing a rare achievement.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast