May 28, 2017

The 15 NBA players with the most triple doubles in one season

2016/04/02 9:47 pm 2149:47 pm0 2 comments

Russell Westbrook

The 2015-16 NBA season has been record-setting when it comes to triple doubles (UPDATE: 2016-17 has been not just better, but the best of all time).

At the time of this writing, 20 players in the 2015-16 season, at all positions have recorded the feat where one records double digits in positive statistical categories like points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks in three different categories with Jimmy Butler recording the first one of his career.

Interbasket has gone through the data and have listed the 10 times when NBA players had recorded the most triple doubles in one season.

Although Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook led the league with 18 triple doubles, his feat placed him in tenth overall place when looking at the NBA players with the most triple doubles in one season across the long history of the league. The 2015-16 NBA season is only the 13th time in history that there have been 50 or more triple doubles. The all-time leader in triple doubles in a single season is Oscar Robinson who had 41 in the 1961-62 NBA season.

Has 2 Players Ever Recorded 10 or More Triple Doubles in an NBA Season?

The 2015-16 NBA season was the first since the 1989-90 season where we have had two players record 10 or more triple doubles. As mentioned it’s Westbrook’s 18 triple doubles along with Draymond Green, who finished with 13 triple doubles.

The 1989-90 season was the first time that two players leaguewide had ten or more. And it’s probably no surprise that it was Magic Johnson with 11 triple doubles and Larry Bird with 10 who led the way.

Back to the 2015-16 season, Green raised the bar and established a new record for a power forward that was previously held by Charles Barkley and Kevin Garnett (7). Draymond was able to break that record halfway through the regular season. Green was also the 15th player in NBA history to get three triple doubles in a row during the games played earlier in the season.

The 2016-17 season was the first season to feature three players with 10 or more triple doubles (Westbrook, Harden and LeBron).

NBA Players with the Most Triple-Doubles (Single Season)

The triple double used to be an individual feat that rarely came around. Most all NBA players will go an entire career without ever recording a triple double. So when some players come close to the personal statistical achievement, it’s no surprise that they’ll go out of their way to put it on their resume.

When a player becomes aware of how close they are to pulling off the triple-double, some of them will go to extraordinary (and often embarrassing) lengths to get that last point, rebound or assist. For every Anthony Bowie, Rickey Davis, Javale McGee or Bob Sura, there were players like Oscar Robertson, Magic, Bird, and Jason Kidd who pulled off triple-doubles in the normal course of the game without disrespecting the integrity of the game.

Nowadays, players like Westbrook, Harden, LeBron and Green are making it more of a common accomplishment. That begs the question, which players have had the most triple doubles in one NBA season? We’ll take a look at that. To keep things fair, we’re only counting triple doubles during the regular season here — not playoffs triple doubles.

Here are the players that have recorded the most triple doubles in one season.

**Obviously, Westbrook is in the top two now, but we’ll update the top ten when the 2016-17 season is over, until then go to our list at the end of this post**

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#1 Oscar Robertson 41 1961-62

Oscar Robertson is the king of triple doubles... and crazy rebounds

The Big O continues to hold the NBA single season record for triple doubles with 41. During the 1961-62 NBA season, Robertson average a triple double for the year with a 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, and 11.4 apg average.

He is the only NBA player to ever achieve this feat, and during the 79 games that he played during the regular season, he achieved a triple double in more than half of the games. He is also the all-time leader in the NBA for triple-doubles with 181 over the course of his career. During the 1961-62 season, Oscar provided 63% of all the triple doubles league-wideUPDATE: The following hasn’t been updated for 2016-17, see an updated list further down the article.

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#2 Wilt Chamberlain 31 1973-74

Wilt Chamberlain still has the record for the second-most triple doubles in a NBA season with 31. He achieved this feat during the 1967-68 regular season, and he also set the record for the most consecutive triple doubles with nine during the season. Of note, prior to the 1973-74 season, the NBA did not count steals or blocks as an official statistic, or Chamberlain would have had a number of more triple doubles both during the 67-68 season as well as during his career.

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#3 Oscar Robertson 26 1960-61
#3 Oscar Robertson 26 1963-64

Oscar Robertson recorded 26 triple doubles in a season twice: once in 1960-61 and once in 1963-64. Of note, the 60-61 season was Robertson’s rookie year in the NBA.

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#5 Oscar Robertson 22 1964-65
#5 Wilt Chamberlain 22 1966-67

Eventually we’ll get to someone besides the Big O or Wilt the Stilt on this all-time triple double list. Until then, here’s Oscar and Wilt again. During the 1964-65 season, Robertson was able to achieve 22 triple doubles during the regular season.

In the year prior to achieving his high-point of 31 triple doubles in a season, Chamberlain pulled off 22 during the 1966-67 NBA regular season. Prior to the 65-66 season, he did not earn that many triple doubles since blocks were not counted, and he was not expected to pass the ball much. Starting in this timeframe, he started passing significantly more and the triple doubles started to accumulate for the NBA star.

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#7 Oscar Robertson 20 1962-63

Ok, we lied. Here’s Oscar Robertson again. During the 1962-63 NBA regular season, Oscar Robertson recorded 20 triple doubles in regular season game play, good for 7th all-time.

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#8 Magic Johnson 18 1981-82
#8 Russell Westbrook 18 2015-16
#10 Magic Johnson 17 1988-89

Finally, a player not named Oscar or Wilt*. Fittingly, it’s Magic Johnson. The Lakers point guard accomplished 18 triple doubles in 1981-82 and 17 triple doubles during the 1988-89. Throughout his career, Magic had a total of 138 triple doubles, and these two seasons represent the highest marks of his career for this feat.

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, Russell Westbrook has had a monster season during the 2015-16 NBA regular season. With several games left in the season, Westbrook recorded his 18th triple double against the Los Angeles Lakers and he did it in just 17 minutes.

He has also had a total of 50 double-doubles during the regular season while averaging 23.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 10.4 apg. And the Thunder benefited from Westbrook’s all-around play, notching wins in all of the games he’s completed this feat.

Magic’s 17 triple doubles in 1988-89, along with Jordan’s 15 TDs (we’ll get to that in a minute), contributed to the highest triple double total of any season in NBA history with 78 occurrences league-wide*.

*the 2016-17 NBA season has since surpassed that.

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#11 Lafayette Lever 16 1986-87

In the 1987 NBA season, the hugely-underrated and undersized (just 6-3) Fat Lever pulled in 16 triple doubles. His 16 triple doubles led the 1986-87 season in total triple doubles. When considering all players, there were 62 league-wide triple doubles in 1986-87 and that’s the fifth most in NBA history. Throughout his career, Lever would total 43 triple doubles.

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#12 Michael Jordan 15 1988-89

During the 1988-89 NBA basketball season, Michael Jordan moved to the point guard position to see how the Bulls respond — though Chicago would respond. Jordan did quite well with the position change — tallying an amazing 10 triple doubles in 11 games, including seven straight games with at least 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The Bulls? They didn’t fare quite as well; going just 5-6 in that eleven game stretch. For the season, Jordan recorded 15 of his 28 triple doubles in his career.

Jason Kidd and Grant Hill came into the league the same year and shared Rookie of the Year honors

Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#13 Magic Johnson 14 1990-91
#14 Grant Hill 13 1996-97
#14 Jason Kidd 13 2007-08
#14 Draymond Green 13 2015-16

Magic technically had 17 triple doubles in the 1990-91 season, but four of those were in the playoffs. Since we’re only counting the regular season here, we’re counting just his 14 triple doubles in the 79 games he played during the season.

Grant Hill came into the league celebrated for his all-around game and he didn’t disappoint. In his third NBA season, he averaged 21.4, 9 rebounds and 7.3 assists over 80 games. During that dominate 96-97 season, Hill would have a career high in triple doubles with 13.

During Jason Kidd’s career, his name was synonymous with triple doubles. Despite “regularly” triple-doubling in his career, Kidd didn’t make the top-ten the list above. His best season was “just” 13 triple doubles in one season.

However, Kidd holds the record for most consecutive seasons with at least one triple double — an unbelievable 17 straight seasons.

Draymond Green has just been a beast during the 2015-16 NBA regular season. Green has smashed the record for total number of triple doubles by a power forward, and he still has several games to play this season. Although he probably will not tie MJ, it definitely sets the stage for the postseason and next year’s NBA regular season to see what Green’s true limits are.

Other Notable NBA Player Triple Doubles (Single Season)

Player Triple Doubles Season
Larry Bird 10 1985-86
Russell Westbrook 10 2016-17*
LeBron James 8 2007-08
LeBron James 8 2008-09

Bird is another triple-double legend that didn’t make the list. Larry Legend’s high was 10 triple doubles in the 1985-86 regular season, but itt bears mentioning that he recorded three more triple doubles in the playoffs.

Of all of Bird’s triple doubles, his most impressive was the night he tallied 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists by halftime against the Washington Bullets during the 1986-87 season.

Though LeBron James is one of the players that seems to regularly pull off the triple double, a lot of fans do not realize that Lebron James has never gotten more than eight triple doubles in a season. He leads all active players in the NBA with a total of 42 career triple doubles; however, and we all know that if Lebron was to start chasing stats that he could easily find himself in the top ten. Until then, we’ll just have to watch and see what kind of magic he will continue to make in Cleveland.

I know we broke up post by player, and people love looking at full lists as they’re easier to digest, so here you go (updated 03/13/2017):


Full List: Most Triple-Doubles in One Season (Player)
Rank Player Triple Doubles Season
#1 Russell Westbrook 42 2016-17*
#2 Oscar Robertson 41 1961-62
#3  Wilt Chamberlain 31 1973-74
#4 Oscar Robertson 26 1960-61
#4 Oscar Robertson 26 1963-64
#6 Oscar Robertson 22 1964-65
#6 Wilt Chamberlain 22 1966-67
#8 James Harden 21 2016-17*
#9 Oscar Robertson 20 1962-63
#10 Magic Johnson 18 1981-82
#10 Russell Westbrook 18 2015-16
#12 Magic Johnson 17 1988-89
#13 Lafayette Lever 16 1986-87
#14 Michael Jordan 15 1988-89
#15 Magic Johnson 14 1990-91
#16 Grant Hill 13 1996-97
#16 Jason Kidd 13 2007-08
#16 Draymond Green 13 2015-16
#16 LeBron James 13 2016-17*
#20 Fat Lever 11 1987-88
#20 Magic Johnson 11 1989-90
#22 Larry Bird 10 1989-90
#22 Larry Bird 10 1985-86
#22 Grant Hill 10 1995-96
n/a Fat Lever 9 1988-89
n/a Darrell Walker 9 1989-90
n/a LeBron James 8 2007-08
n/a LeBron James 8 2008-09

Other NBA Triple Double Records

The following are some of the interesting triple double records in the NBA that you will want to note. From the youngest to oldest, there are a number of famous players you will find on this list.

Triple-Doubles with Most Points

Player Points Season
Russell Westbrook 57 points 2016-17
Wilt Chamberlain 53 points 1967-68
James Harden 53 points 2016-17
Elgin Baylor 52 points 1961-62
Russell Westbrook 51 points 2015-16
James Harden 51 points 2016-17

For a more-detailed list of the highest-scoring triple doubles in NBA history (with stats, date, etc.), check out this post for our take on the best triple doubles.

The Youngest NBA Players to get a Triple-Double

player years days date
LeBron James 20 years 20 days 01/19/2005
LeBron James 20 years 23 days 01/22/2005
Lamar Odom 20 years 54 days 12/30/1999
John Wall 20 years 65 days 11/10/2010

Most NBA Seasons with at least One Triple-Double

player seasons range
Jason Kidd 17 seasons 1994-95 to 2010-11
Magic Johnson 13 seasons 1979-80 to 1995-96

The Oldest NBA Players to Record a Triple-Double

player years days date opponent
Karl Malone 40 years 127 days 11/28/2003 San Antonio Spurs
Elvin Hayes 38 years 148 days 04/13/1984 San Antonio Spurs
Jason Kidd 37 years 343 days 03/01/2011 Philadelphia 76ers

*Full box scores were regularly unavailable during Oscar Robertson’s and Wilt Chamberlain’s era (not to mention steals or blocks) so it’s very likely that both players would have many more entries on this list of triple doubles.

Triple Doubles are cute. No offense to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Russell Westbrook, but you’re probably less of a player until you get a triple double coming off the bench or even better, give us the 5th quadruple-double in NBA history. Don’t call me until you do. (ITS SARCASM FOLKS)

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