Basketball can be a stat-based sport, but it’s not just points, rebounds and assists. It’s shooting percentages, offensive rating, defensive rating, assist-to-turnover ratio and usage rate, among others.
Not all stats are made equal, though – there’s a reason points, rebounds and assists are the most well-known numbers. But what happens if a player has a massive game that includes all three?
What is a triple-double in basketball?
Say a player scores 10 points in a game and grabs 10 rebounds in the same game. That would be a double-double: double-digit numbers in two different stats.
Say that same player scores 10 points and grabs 10 rebounds in the next game, but also collects 10 assists: that’s your triple-double. Double-digit numbers in three different categories.
Points, assists and rebounds; points, rebounds and steals; rebounds, steals and blocks; it doesn’t matter. As long as a player hits double digits in any three categories, it’s a triple-double.
Triple-doubles across NBA history
The NBA didn’t officially count triple-doubles until the 1979-80 season, but the stats can be tracked back to the 1950-51 season.
Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson was the only player to average a triple-double for an entire season – until Russell Westbrook did the same thing and won the NBA MVP Award in 2016-17. He also broke Robertson’s record of 41 triple-doubles in a season.
Westbrook now has the most triple-double games in NBA history and averaged a triple-double for four out of five seasons.
Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Jason Kidd and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic are the only other players in NBA history with 100 triple-doubles.