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Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers with the ball as Horace Grant of the Orlando Magic defends. (Photo by Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire)
May 23rd, 2021
Triple-doubles are seen as signs of complete basketball players. Those who can score, pass, and rebound are multi-dimensional assets that can be trusted to do many different things during a game, and that doesn’t go unnoticed by fans and students of the game.
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 players in NBA history with the most triple-doubles. Usually, this means 10 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds in a game, but sometimes players do this with double-figure steals or blocked shots as well. Let’s dive in!
Position: Point GuardTeams: Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Dallas MavericksCareer Triple-Doubles: 43
This one may surprise you, but Lever quietly compiled a fair amount of triple-doubles despite never leading the league in any statistical offensive category. Over a four-season stretch in the late-1980’s, he averaged nearly 19 points per game to go along with 8.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists, and he earned two All-Star Game selections during that span.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) looks on before an NBA game. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
Position: CenterTeam: Denver NuggetsCareer Triple-Doubles: 48
Here’s a scary thought: Nikola Jokic just turned 26 years old. He’s still very young and may still be getting better. That’s terrifying for those in the league, as he’s averaging 26.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game this season. He’s a 6’11” center who sees the floor like a point guard, and that makes him a candidate to stuff stat sheets on a nightly basis.
Houston Rockets guard James Harden is defended closely by Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
Position: Shooting GuardTeams: Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Brooklyn NetsCareer Triple-Doubles: 51
One of the NBA’s most proficient scorers, Harden averaged greater than 30 points per game in each of his last three seasons with the Rockets. He also led the league in assists back in 2016-17, when he also averaged a career-best 8.1 rebounds per contest. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant alongside him, he may have lots of opportunities to climb up this list very soon.
Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics. (Photo by John M. McDonough/Icon Sportswire)
Position: Small ForwardTeam: Boston CelticsCareer Triple-Doubles: 59
An all-around threat that guided the Celtics to three titles in the 1980’s, Bird was a lethal scorer with uncanny rebounding instincts. He averaged more than 24 points per game in his illustrious career, adding 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game for good measure. He led the NBA in triple-doubles during the 1985-86 season, one that ended with his final championship.
Wilt Chamberlain (jumping) of the 76ers lays a ball up against the Celtics. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
Position: CenterTeams: Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles LakersCareer Triple-Doubles: 78
It’s not the number Wilt’s best known for, but one of the biggest inside forces in NBA history retired with the second-most triple-doubles to that point. Perhaps this number would’ve been even bigger had the NBA counted blocked shots as official statistics prior to the 1973-74 season (Wilt played his last game in 1972-73).
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James makes a move against the Houston Rockets. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
Position: Does he really have one?Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles LakersCareer Triple-Doubles: 97
What’s there to say about LeBron that hasn’t been said? He’s seen by some as the best all-around player to ever lace up a pair of basketball shoes, and he’s just three triple-doubles away from 100 for his career. He can play any position, as evidenced by him leading the NBA with 10.2 assists per game during the 2019-20 campaign.
Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd #2 in an NBA game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks. (Photo by Albert Pena/Icon Sportswire)
Position: Point GuardTeams: Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets, New York KnicksCareer Triple-Doubles: 107
Kidd’s appearance this high on the list may come as a shock. He wasn’t known as much of a scorer, and at 6’4”, one wouldn’t assume he’d be a world-class rebounder. However, he once averaged more than eight rebounds per game over an entire season, and he did enough as a scorer to lead the NBA in triple-doubles in 11 of his 19 seasons.
Position: Point GuardTeam: Los Angeles LakersCareer Triple-Doubles: 138
Magic helped revitalize the Lakers in the 1980’s as a 6’9” point guard who could play any position on the floor. He memorably filled in for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center during the 1980 NBA Finals and scored 42 points to lead L.A. to the first of five titles the team would win during that decade.
Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks on during an NBA game between the Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
Position: Point GuardTeams: Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Washington WizardsCareer Triple-Doubles: 154
Westbrook did The Big O three better, in a sense. He didn’t just become the first player since Robertson to average a triple-double over a full season. He did it three seasons in a row while with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s 32, and perhaps he’s lost a step, but it’s not inconceivable to think he could make a run at Robinson’s all-time mark.
Position: Point GuardTeams: Cincinnati Royals, Milwaukee BucksCareer Triple-Doubles: 181
It’s fitting Robertson tops this list, as for nearly 60 years, he was the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double over the course of an entire season. He did that during the 1961-62 campaign, where he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. Shockingly, he was only third in MVP voting that season.
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