August 22, 2017

Best Triple Doubles: The 18 triple doubles with most points in NBA history

2017/04/01 10:23 am 10:23 am10:23 am0 1 comment


Russell Westbrook and James Harden are the leading candidates for the 2016-17 NBA MVP and it’s in no small part to the critical role they play for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.

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.

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Here’s a list of the 18 highest-scoring triple doubles in NBA history:

Triple-Doubles with Most Points Scored

Points Player Rebounds Assists Date Teams TDT
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

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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

Rank Player TDT Points Rebounds Assists Date Teams
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.

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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”.

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1 Comment

  • Magic Johnson is the man of Triple Doubles! I’m surprised that he’s not mentioned! Johnson was doing 3×2’s like a normal thing! Regular season and Playoffs! And he was doing it un-concentrated!

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