What is the definition of double-double in basketball?
1. A double-double occurs in basketball when a player has double-digit figures in at least two statistical categories, such as points and rebounds, in a single game.
Types of double-doubles
A double-double occurs whenever a basketball player reaches double figures (10 or more) in two of the main statistical categories:
- Blocked shots
Double digits in any combination of two categories from this list results in a double-double.
Points and rebounds are the most common double-double combination overall, often earned by big men. Points and assists are the most common double-double combination for guards. Double-doubles involving steals or blocks are very rare.
What is the number of points a player needs to get in a game to be awarded a double-double?
A player with 10 or more points in a basketball game may be eligible for a double-double. However, they must also have 10 or more for another basketball stat.
It’s important to note that a player can also earn a double-double without scoring any points as long as they reach double digits in two other stat categories. For example, 10 rebounds and 10 assists counts as a double-double.
What is a double-double in NBA games?
A double-double in the National Basketball Association (NBA) means that a player has earned double digits in two statistical categories in a single game. This can include overtimes and is not restricted to stats recorded during the 48 minutes (four 12-minute quarters) of regulation time.
Double-doubles are relatively common in NBA and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) games. Double-doubles can also be achieved in other leagues, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and high school basketball.
Why is it called a double-double?
The term double-double is derived from two factors:
- The first “double” refers to the fact that a player must reach a certain number in two (double) stat categories.
- The second “double” refers to double digits, meaning that a total of 10 or more is accrued for a designated stat (points, rebounds, assists, steals or blocks).
Other statistical achievements in basketball
There are several similarly named achievements which follow the same principle as the double-double:
A triple-double is awarded when a player accrues double digits in three or more statistical categories in a single game.
The number of triple-doubles in each NBA season has fluctuated over time, with certain standout players sometimes earning a large portion of these achievements. For example, Russell Westbrook had 101 triple-doubles from the 2016-17 season to the 2018-19 season, which accounted for over 28% of the 352 triple-doubles recorded during that time.
A player earns a quadruple-double when getting double digits in four or more statistical categories in a single game.
Only a handful of NBA players have achieved this feat since it was first recorded in the 1973-74 season. The first official quadruple-double in the NBA was recorded by Nate Thurmond in 1974. However, some say that Wilt Chamberlain earned an unofficial quadruple double in Game 1 of the 1967 Eastern Division Finals against the Boston Celtics.
A quintuple-double refers to a player that earns double digits in all five statistical categories in a single game. This has never been done at the professional level, though some claim that Wilt Chamberlain earned a quintuple-double in 1968 before steals and blocks were officially recorded. A few recorded instances have occurred in girls’ high school basketball.
In 1987, Hakeem Olajuwon nearly earned a quintuple-double when he recorded 38 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, 7 steals and 12 blocks in a double overtime game.
A five-by-five happens when a player accrues at least five in all five statistical categories in a single game.
As of March 2023, Hakeem Olajuwon holds the NBA record for the most five-by-fives with a total of six. Andrei Kirilenko has three, and he is the only other NBA player with multiple five-by-fives.
Double-double record holders
As of March 2023, Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for the most combined double-doubles for regular season and playoff games in NBA history at 1,111. Chamberlain also holds the record for having double-doubles in the most consecutive games, with 227 recorded over the course of nearly three complete seasons from 1964 to 1967.
With over 540 double-doubles and counting as of March 2023, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the leaders in the league for this achievement. Total double-doubles for past players who have excelled in this area include:
- Tim Duncan: 841
- Karl Malone: 814
- Hakeem Olajuwon: 775
- Kevin Garnett: 742
- Shaquille O’Neal: 727
Some of the most iconic players did not have a high number of double-doubles. For example, Michael Jordan had 200, and Kobe Bryant had 176.
Examples of how double-double is used in commentary
1. Duncan ends the game with yet another double-double for the season. He finishes the night with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
SportsLingo goes the extra-inch with the meaning of double-double
The most common combination of a double-double in basketball is points and rebounds, followed next by points and assists. Both feats are hard to accomplish in a night and even more difficult to achieve consistently. Although rare, a player may also achieve a double double-double, or 20-20, or a triple double-double, or 30-30.
Sport the term is used