What is a triple-double in basketball?

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images /

While winning is what matters most in the NBA, fans can’t help getting excited by the stats. When a player breaks the box score to demonstrate just how much they were dominating on the court, it’s hard not to get hyped. One of the most impressive feats a player can accomplish is a triple-double.

What is a triple-double in basketball?

A triple-double is when a player reaches a double-digit number in three different statistical categories. Points is the easiest one to hit, and many players are usually great rebounders who get to a “double-double” with points and rebounds, or great passers who reach double-digit points and assists.

Putting all three together is an impressive feat, and not all that common. Some players even stretch amazing to its breaking point by reaching a triple-double in blocks or steals, much harder stats to collect.

When did triple-doubles start being recognized as a star?

While players tallied points, rebounds and assists since the early days of the NBA, categorizing the feat as a “triple-double” officially started during the 1979-80 season. This was fortuitous, as Magic Johnson was entering the league and would account for a quarter of the triple-doubles over the next 12 seasons.

Who had the most triple-doubles in 2022-23?

Nikola Jokic unsurprisingly led the NBA in triple-doubles last season, totaling a whopping 29 in 69 games. That total alone would tie Grant Hill for 19th in career triple-doubles, highlighting the unique impact that Jokic has on a game.

Behind Jokic, Domantas Sabonis was second with 14; Luka Doncic had 10. Ja Morant (7), Giannis Antetokounmpo (6), James Harden (5) and Russell Westbrook and Josh Giddey (4) also reached that impressive threshold multiple times.

List of players with the most triple-doubles after the 2022-23 season

After last season, Russell Westbrook only cemented his place as the all-time leader with 198 triple-doubles. Nikola Jokic is screaming up the list, however, and looks like a good bet to become the all-time leader over the next half-decade. Here is the entire Top 10:

  1. Russell Westbrook – 198
  2. Oscar Robertson – 181
  3. Magic Johnson – 138
  4. LeBron James – 107
  5. Jason Kidd – 107
  6. Nikola Jokic – 105
  7. Wilt Chamberlain – 78
  8. James Harden – 74
  9. Larry Bird – 59
  10. Luka Doncic – 56

Cavaliers career leaders in triple-doubles

The career leader in franchise triple-doubles for the Cleveland Cavaliers is no surprise: it’s LeBron James. He’s not just first, but he has well more than every other player in franchise history combined. Here are all 15 Cavaliers players to have ever recorded a triple-double:

  1. LeBron James – 64
  2. John Johnson – 5
  3. Brad Daugherty – 4
  4. Andre Miller – 4
  5. Foots Walker – 2
  6. John Bagley – 2
  7. McCoy McLemore – 1
  8. Steve Patterson – 1
  9. Campy Russell – 1
  10. Ron Harper – 1
  11. Mark Price – 1
  12. Larry Nance – 1
  13. Bobby Phills – 1
  14. Kyrie Irving – 1
  15. Darius Garland – 1

Which current Cavs player is most likely to get a triple-double this season?

The only current member of the Cavs with more than one triple-double in their career is Ricky Rubio, who has totaled seven to this point. Rubio may get a triple-double at the World Cup this summer, but given his limited role it’s unlikely that he will have enough touches to get one with the Cavs.

That makes Garland the top candidate, and almost certainly by getting enough rebounds to add to his points and assists; Garland has 54 double-doubles in his four-year career, all with double-digit assists, but has only hit 10 rebounds the one time.

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The dark horse candidate here is Evan Mobley, who has 45 double-doubles in 45 career games. He has logged as many as seven assists in those games, so reaching 10 is within reach. He also has a career-high of eight blocks, so he has an outside shot at a triple-double with blocks instead (or even that elusive quadruple-double).