Triple-doubles are becoming the norm nowadays around the league but back in the day, they weren’t all that normal. You’d get to see one every now and then, and most of them came from the same players. Now, it seems like everyone can get a triple-double with the pace the game is played.
Throughout NBA history, just a handful of players were able to write their names in books thanks to their ability to do a little bit of everything. Besides being solid scorers and somewhat decent rebounders or playmakers, they found ways to impact every single aspect of the game.
These players stood out from the rest of the pack as the triple-double kings. And today, we’re going to honor them by letting you know about the top 10 players with the most triple-doubles to ever set foot on an NBA hardwood. Enjoy.
10. Fat Lever – 43
Most young fans may have never heard about Lafayette ‘Fat’ Lever, one of the most electric playmakers of his generation. Next to Alex English, he orchestrated one of the most explosive and entertaining offenses with the Denver Nuggets. But more than being a great passer, Lever was also a solid rebounder. Throughout his career, he averaged north of 6.0 boards and 6.0 assists per game, piling up 43 triple-doubles.
9. Nikola Jokic – 53
Some people claim that Nikola Jokic is the best passing big man ever. I would have to agree that he’s also one of the best passers and playmakers ever. Period. Given his size, it’s natural to see him average double digits in boards, and his offensive versatility makes him a nightly double-double. He pulls the strings of the offense for the Denver Nuggets and will pile up countless triple-doubles until his retirement.
8. James Harden – 58
James Harden has a size advantage over most point guards and is a great rebounder for his position. More than that, having him on your team means that you’ll push the pace and get plenty of shots, so it’s not unusual to see him pile p triple-doubles almost at will. In fact, he’s already the Brooklyn Nets’ all-time leader in triple-doubles and hasn’t even been there for a full season.
7. Larry Bird – 59
Larry Bird was perfectly suited for today’s game. He could put up points from everywhere on the court and was a savvy player when it came to gaining and maintaining position on both ends of the glass. But one of Bird’s most underrated traits was his court vision. His passing skills were way above the average for a forward and he had eyes on the back of his head.
6. Wilt Chamberlain – 78
No list of incredible accolades would be complete without Wilt Chamberlain, the legend himself. Chamberlain hogged the ball for pretty much every single minute of the game and averaged more than 20 rebounds a night. More than that, he was quite a smart player and a great ball-handler for his time and position, constantly handing off the ball to an open teammate when double or triple-teamed inside the lane.
5. LeBron James – 99
Love him or hate him, there’s no disrespecting LeBron James, who’s arguably the most complete player of all time. James is the true definition of a point forward, and his playmaking skills and basketball IQ allow him to play one through five any given night. James has a feel for making everybody around him better and helping his teammates get to their spots when he’s running the offense, and he’ll end up with way more than 100 triple-doubles when he retires.
4. Jason Kidd – 107
Jason Kidd was one of the best pure point guards in the history of the league. He was a pass-first kind of guy who would lock you up in the defensive end of the floor, and that wouldn’t mind taking a beating in the paint to snatch multiple rebounds away from opposing bigs. Kidd was a fierce competitor night in and night out and watching him get triple-doubles was almost routine in his prime.
3. Magic Johnson – 138
Magic Johnson is considered by most as the greatest point guard of all time and for very good reasons. He was a 6’9” physical specimen that could guard and play one through five, and his court-vision and eccentric passes have yet to be matched to this day. If he wasn’t for his early retirement due to HIV, he would’ve ended up as the league’s all-time leader in triple-doubles and by a long stretch.
2. Russell Westbrook – 165
Russell Westbrook gets a lot of hate for his erratic decision making and some call him a stat-padder. But if averaging a triple-double for multiple seasons was so easy, then everybody would do it. Westbrook will finish his career as the all-time leader in triple-doubles and it seems like we’re just taking him for granted at this point. We shouldn’t normalize how great he is and how difficult it is to do what he does.
1. Oscar Robertson – 181
Oscar Robertson was the first player to ever average a triple-double for a full season. He was stronger than most guards – or players, for what it’s worth – and had an impressive vertical to dominate both ends of the glass. As for his passing skills, he was one of the best point guards in the world during his prime, so it’s not strange to see him topping this list, at least for now.