For 55 seasons, Oscar Robertson stood alone as the only player to average a triple-double for a NBA season. This means that he scored the most triple doubles in a season.
Then Russell Westbrook came along.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard not only joined the Hall of Famer in the record books, he created his own chapter accomplishing the triple-double feat in back-to-back seasons. In 2016-17, Westbrook not only joined Robertson as the only players in league history to average a triple double for the season, he also broke Robertson’s single-season record for them (41 triple-doubles in 1961-62). For his efforts that season, the former UCLA standout earned his first Kia Most Valuable Player award. The point guard beat out Houston’s James Harden and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.
In 2017-18, Westbrook became the only person in NBA history to accomplish averaging a triple-double for a season twice in a career. This time, the Thunder superstar entered the final two games of the 2017-18 campaign needing 34 total rebounds to average 10 per contest to complete the feat. Westbrook snared 18 boards against Miami, and needed 16 in the season finale to clinch a triple-double average for the season.
He got that achievement by snaring rebound No. 16 with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies and a standing ovation ensued. He finished with just six points, but had a career-high 20 rebounds and 19 assists.
”I’m very, very thankful and blessed, man, to go out and compete,” Westbrook said then. ”Like I’ve said many, many times, I don’t take this game for granted. I don’t take going out on the floor and competing for granted.”
There was some speculation that Westbrook was indeed pursuing the statistical milestone. Westbrook responded by defending his ability to amass the stats in the first place. “A lot of people make jokes about stat padding rebounds,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would. If people could get [expletive] 15 rebounds, they would.”
In 2015 Russell Westbrook took over the stat sheets and had the most triple-doubles with 11. In 2016 he increased it to 18 and then in 2017 to a whopping 42 beating Oscar Robertson’s previous record of 41 set in the 1961 – 1962 season. He then followed that up with 25 in 2018 and 34 in 2019.
Russell Westbrook not only set the record for the most triple-doubles in a season but he also averaged a triple-double for each season in 2017 – 2019. Oscar Robertson is the only other player to actually average a triple-double for an entire season.
Here is the list of the top 5 all-time triple-double leaders :
- Oscar Robertson 181.
- Magic Johnson 138.
- Russell Westbrook 128.
- Jason Kidd 107.
- LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain 78
Keep in mind that Westbrook and James are still playing so their numbers will continue to increase. Also, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain played in an era where blocked shots and steals were not recorded. So, their numbers are most likely higher than what is shown here.
Most Triple Doubles in Playoffs
A triple-double in any NBA game is a great feat, especially in the playoffs. The guy leads this list is one of the best players to ever walk on the basketball court. We are talking about Magic Johnson who has 30 career playoff triple doubles. Incredible. Thirty triple-doubles in playoff games. Sure he benefitted from being the head runner of Showtime, a Lakers dynasty, but, man, that’s amazing. But LeBron’s getting close and will eventually break his record. The king is currently at 28 and with the way he is playing, the chances of him breaking Magic’s record grow higher with every passing game.
Triple-double leaders in NBA Finals history
Magic Johnson recorded his first career Finals triple-double, as a rookie, in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. At the end of his career, after 50 Finals games, Johnson finished with an NBA record 8 triple-doubles. That record was broken 26 years later by LeBron James in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals. A year later, the King extended his lead atop the list with another triple-double in Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals.
In Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals, Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double of 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, giving him the first Finals triple-double of his career. In scoring 40 points to record the feat, he joined James and Hall of Famer Jerry West as the only players in NBA history to have a 40-point triple-double in the Finals. A few games later, Butler, in just his fifth Finals game, recorded another triple-double with 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists – becoming only the second player ever after LeBron James to have multiple 30-point triple-doubles in a Finals series.