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What’s a Triple Double in Basketball?

ByQueen Ballers Club|@queenballers| August 12, 2021
whats-a-triple-double-in-basketball

A triple double is even better than a double double. It means a hooper has notched 10 or more in yet another statistical category – three total! So today we’ll take a look at what’s a triple double in basketball and the statistical categories that contribute. We’ll reveal how rare the accomplishment is in both the WNBA and NBA. Plus, we’ll show you some cool triple double examples from all time!

What’s a triple double in basketball?

A triple-double is a statistical achievement by a basketball player when they hit double digits in three of the five major statistical categories in a single game. The categories are: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

Nearly all triple-doubles consists of points, rebounds, and assists. But a triple-double can also include steals and blocked shots.

It’s called that because the first “triple” in the term refers to the three (triple) categories, and the second “double” refers to accumulating ten or more (double digits) in that category. 

The triple double categories in basketball

Let’s break down how you can get a triple double with a look at each statistical category.

1. Points

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.

2. Rebounds

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.

3. Assists

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.

4. Steals

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.

5. Blocks

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.

How rare is a triple-double in basketball?

Triple doubles are more rare than double doubles. 11 WNBA players over all time have recorded triple doubles. Sheryl Swoopes achieved the accomplishment first on July 27, 1999, and she has also recorded two! Courtney Vandersloot was the next WNBA player to record two triple doubles.

On May 22, 2022, Candace Parker had 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists, earning the spot as the third WNBA player to notch multiple triple doubles. On June 23, 2022 she followed it up with yet another, so she now has the most (3) of any WNBA player ever.

On June 12, 2022, Sabrina Ionescu became the youngest player in the WNBA to record multiple triple-doubles. She is also only the second player to record multiple triple-doubles in the regular season, and is the first to reach the tally in just three quarters.

Other WNBA hoopers who’ve hit a single triple double include Margo Dydek, Lisa Leslie, Deanna Nolan, Temeka Johnson, and Chelsea Gray.

WNBA triples in history via Across the Timeline

Natasha Cloud just had her first ever triple double in Athletes Unlimited Basketball, registering the league’s first-ever triple-double. She achieved 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

As for the NBA, during the 2020-2021 season, there were 142 triple-doubles. In May 2021, point guard Russell Westbrook became the undisputed king of the triple doubles, after scoring his record-breaking 182nd triple double in a tight 125-124 loss against the Atlanta Hawks. Today, he’s followed by Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, and LeBron James, for the most triple doubles over all time.

Explore triple double examples

From the youngest triple double to a triple double from an LA Sparks legend, check out examples of how this incredible feat can be accomplished.

1. Sabrina Ionescu recorded first triple-double, youngest in WNBA history

In just her 6th career game and third of the 2021 season, Sabrina Ionescu recorded her first career triple-double. That made her the youngest WNBA player to notch a triple-double (26 PTS, 12 AST, 10 REB)! She also was the first New York Liberty player to post a triple-double, and marked the first 20-point triple-double since Lisa Leslie in 2004.

2. Courtney Vandersloot recorded second-ever triple-double in playoff history

Courtney Vandersloot took over with the second triple-double in WNBA Playoff history, registering 12 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists on September 28, 2021. The 18 assists were also a Playoff record as she lead the Chicago Sky in Game 1.

3. Candace Parker became the 6th player in WNBA history to get a triple-double

Candace Parker became the 6th player in WNBA history to record a triple-double with 11 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 assists. Candace’s 17 boards were the most ever in a triple-double in league history as she led her Los Angeles Sparks to an 85-73 win over the San Antonio Stars. She now has two double-doubles!

4. Lisa Leslie recorded a triple double against the Detroit Shock

The Los Angeles Sparks’ Lisa Leslie record a triple double against the Detroit Shock, She got an incredible 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 blocks.

5. Margo Dydek of the Utah Starzz got a triple double

Margo had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks against the Orlando Miracle back in July 2016.

Is there anything greater than a triple double?

The wild thing is it’s actually possible to achieve a quadrouple double, and even quintuple doubles since there are up to five statistical categories. A basketball player hits a quadruple-double, and quintuple-double when they get ten or more in four or all five of the statistical categories, respectively.

How many quadrouple doubles in the NBA

Only five quadruple doubles have ever officially been recorded in the NBA over all time.

How many quadrouple doubles in the WNBA

No quadrouple doubles have been recorded in the WNBA yet. Hooper Shakyla Hill became the only D1 college player player to ever record two quadrouple doubles in 2020. Indiana Fever‘s Tamika Catchings was the first player ever to record a quintuple-double, and she did it already during her high school career.

Get a triple double in basketball

Now you know all about triple doubles in basketball. So it’s time to put in the work to get your own! First visualize your triple double success. Then check out some of the best basketball shooting drills and ball handling drills, and put in the work.

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