It helps that the two are in the top ten all-time for the most triple doubles in one season. And both players have had a couple triple doubles this record-breaking season with 49 points or more.
In fact, Harden tied Wilt Chamberlain‘s 50+ year record for the most points scored with a triple double when he scored 53 points (with 16 rebounds and 17 assists) against the New York Knicks on New Year’s Eve of 2016.
Westbrook started the 2016-17 season strong by lighting up the Phoenix Suns on the league’s second night. The 6-3 PG was all over the place with 51 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He would outdo that his personal high-scoring triple double 5 months later with the NBA’s highest-of-the-highest highest-scoring triple double on March 3rd, 2017 when he scored 57 points. With that, he found himself on top of a prestigious list that includes Mount Rushmore-legends like Wilt, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.
Here’s a list of the 18 highest-scoring triple doubles in NBA history:
Triple-Doubles with Most Points Scored
|57||Russell Westbrook||13||11||2017-03-29||OKC vs. ORL||81|
|53||Wilt Chamberlain||32||14||03/18/1968||PHI vs. LAL||99|
|53||James Harden||16||17||12/31/2016||HOU vs. NYK||86|
|52||Elgin Baylor||25||10||12/13/1961||LAL vs. STL||87|
|51||Wilt Chamberlain||29||11||02/13/1963||SFW vs DET||91|
|51||Russell Westbrook||13||10||10/28/2016||OKC vs. PHX||74|
|51||James Harden||13||13||01/27/17||HOU vs. PHI||77|
|50||Richie Guerin||11||13||02/25/1962||NYK vs. PHI||74|
|50||Elgin Baylor||15||11||02/13/1963||LAL vs. BOS||76|
|50||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||15||11||01/19/1975||MIL vs POR||76|
|50||Russell Westbrook||16||10||04/09/2017||OKC vs. DEN||76|
|49||Larry Bird||14||12||03/15/1992||BOS vs. POR||75|
|49||Russell Westbrook||15||10||03/04/2015||OKC vs. PHI||74|
|47||Larry Bird||14||11||02/14/1986||BOS vs. POR||73|
|47||Michael Jordan||11||13||03/15/1992||CHI vs. IND||71|
|46||Vince Carter||16||10||4/7/2007||NJN vs. WAS||72|
|46||Tracy McGrady||10||13||2/23/2003||ORL vs. NJN||69|
|45||Michael Adams||11||12||1/31/1991||DEN vs. NJN||68|
|45||Russell Westbrook||11||11||12/23/2016||OKC vs. BOS||67|
The NBA’s “Best” Triple Doubles
From clutch shots, plus/minus, to simply if the team won the game, there’s so much that goes on into an NBA game. And taking all that into account is nearly impossible. so how does one judge what the the best triple double?
Let’s just keep it simple. In compiling the numbers for the highest-scoring games, it’s very likely that these represent the most-impactful triple doubles in NBA history. That’s assuming that points are the easiest-to-get and almost always the highest total in triple double. Well, unless you’re Draymond Green or Jason Kidd (who exclaimed ‘points’ when asked by the New York Times what part of the triple double was most difficult for him).
So we simply added the numbers up and called it “TDT”.
“TDT” isn’t anything special, we just added the total of the three categories in which the player achieved the triple double, so TDT= points + rebounds +assists gives us an approximate for the “best” triple doubles in NBA history. When looking only at TDT, it’s Wilt Chamberlain’s dominance in scoring and rebounding that are highest up on the list. From there, the list pretty much susses out with the amount of points
Best Triple-Doubles in NBA History
|1||Wilt Chamberlain||99||53+||32+||14||03/18/1968||PHI vs. LAL|
|2||Wilt Chamberlain||91||51+||29+||11||02/13/1963||SFW vs DET|
|3||Elgin Baylor||87||52+||25+||10||12/13/1961||LAL vs. STL|
|4||James Harden||86||53+||16+||17||12/31/2016||HOU vs. NYK|
|5||Russell Westbrook||81||57+||13+||11||2017-03-29||OKC vs. ORL|
|6||James Harden||77||51+||13+||13||01/27/17||HOU vs. PHI|
|7||Russell Westbrook||76||50+||16+||10||04/09/2017||OKC vs. DEN|
|8||Russell Westbrook||74||51+||13+||10||10/28/2016||OKC vs. PHX|
When looking at the total numbers, Wilt’s triple double in 1968 is considered the best triple double of all time. Chamberlain almost always dominated when he was on the court, but that night he spread out his dominance with 53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists for a TDT of 99, by far the most in NBA history. Wilt was the only player to have a combined TDT of over 90 and his two TD entries are the most powerful.
What about Westbrook? Well, his game with highest scoring record is actually the fifth best at just 77 TDT. So on this scale it wasn’t the best triple double, but it’s definitely up there.
This Isn’t All The Triple Doubles in NBA History
If we’re to take the list at face-value you would think that the triple double is a contemporary accomplishment as many on the list came after the 1980’s, but there’s a HUGE asterisk that’s stamped onto this list. As you may know, blocks weren’t recorded during the dominant years of Wilt. And let’s not forget that official boxscores/statlines are hard to come by from the pre-1980’s NBA, so who knows how comprehensive this list really is?
Still it doesn’t diminish the accomplishments that have been noted. On this particular list, we have some of the NBA’s one-name wonders in Wilt and Baylor. Time will tell if the names “Westbrook” and “Harden” will be more “Kareem and Bird” or “Adams and McGrady”.