Did you know that Sylvia Fowles leads the WNBA in double doubles, and she’s not even retired yet!? Though 2022 will be her last year of play. There are tons of fun stats in basketball that mark levels of achievement. One common way to evaluate a player’s performance in a game is with the double double. So today we’ll dive into what’s a double double in basketball. We’ll share some double double examples. And we’ll even reveal the top double double getters in the NBA and WNBA. Let’s get after it.
A double double is when a player reaches double figures (10 or more) in two of the five main statistical categories in a single game. The categories are: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. It’s called that because the first “double” in the term refers to the two (double) categories, and the second “double” refers to accumulating ten or more (double digits) in that category.
Double doubles are decently common, but it’s impressive if a player consistently earns them. The most common double-doubles combinations are points and rebounds for big men and points and assists for guards. Reaching double figures in steals or blocks is extremely rare, but has been done. Also special double-doubles are rare. For example a 20–20, double double-double or double-20, which happens when a player hits 20 or more in two statistics in a game.
Let’s break down how you can get a double double with a look at each statistical category.
Scoring in double figures means you need 10 or more points, and is the easiest category for a player to achieve as it’s the most straight forward. Players can use any combination of 3s, field goals, and free throws to get their score up to 10. Typically players need to make about 5 baskets to get this number.
Rebounds are when you get the ball back off the glass or rim when someone has shot the ball. There are both offensive and defensive rebounds and they each count towards this stat line. Centers and power forwards tend to excel in this category because of their placement on the court close to the glass and their larger stature. However it’s very possible for guards to achieve this as well if they focus on rebounds.
Assists are where point guards tend to shine. An assist is when you pass the ball to someone who immediately scores. Of course, the tricky part is, if you’re passing the ball away, you’re not adding stats to your points line – so it’s a balance. For the team’s success is best to make yourself a scoring threat, but also be a pass-first guard.
Steals are one of the most challenging stat lines. A steal is when you interrupt the other team’s play by taking away the ball – typically by intercepting a pass. Getting 10 or more steals in a game is very hard to do. In fact, only one player in all of WNBA history has achieved 10 steals in a game: Ticha Penicheiro when playing for the Sacramento Monarchs.
Blocks are a big man specialty. A block is when someone is going up for a shot and you reject it with your hand, ensuring it doesn’t go into the basket. But getting 10 in a single game is a rare feat. Only Brittney Griner, Margo Dydek, and Lisa Leslie have had 10 or more blocks within a game in the WNBA.
Here are some double double results from the WNBA and NBA.
In a win over the Phoenix Mercury, Sylvia Fowles notched her 158th double-double to become the league’s leader already back in 2019.
Tina Charles put up 20 points and 10 rebounds, and dished out 3 assists, as the Washington Mystics beat the Los Angeles Sparks. The double-double marked her 158th ever and put Tina at 2nd all-time in that career category, surpassing Lisa Leslie.
At 38 years old 17 seasons in, Tim Duncan had a double double in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals in overtime.
Ben Simmons recorded his first double double as a professional basketball player during Vegas Summer League. Simmons’ scored 15 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing 6 assists.
309 players over all time have achieved double doubles in the WNBA. Rookie Shakira Austin shared how she made hers happen:
For the 2020 NBA season 50 players achieved double doubles during the regular season, and there were 529 players registered with the league. So a little less than 10% of the league achieved double doubles.
In the WNBA bigs tend to be the consistent double double getters. Here’s a look at the top five over all time from Across the Timeline:
In the NBA bigs are often the consistent double double getters. Here’s a look at the top five over all time from StatMuse:
Now you know what a double double in basketball is, so set some basketball goals to work towards one of your own.