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What is a Double-Double in Basketball?

double-double lebron games

There is no question that scoring baskets is key to a successful NBA career and the building blocks of a winning team. 

But it is not the only category in which players can contribute to the game.

The other main factors include assists, blocks, rebounds and steals.

In fact, these statistics have been monitored consistently by the NBA for well over half a decade now.

There are some players who excel at these secondary statistics, which is why they find themselves on an NBA roster.

But when a player dominates in more than one aspect of the game, their exploits don’t go unnoticed. 

Any time a player reaches double digits for a stat category, they are having themselves a good game.

And when you hit double digits for two elements, you’ve now hit beast mode.

This level of success has its own designation…

What is a Double-Double in Basketball?

A double-double is achieved when a player reaches double digits for 2 of the following five statistical categories in a game: assists, blocks, points, rebounds and steals. Double-doubles are earned from a combination of points and rebounds for post players and points and assists for guards.

It is quite rare to get to double digits in blocks and steals in a single game.

I’d be shocked if any player has ever achieved a double-double just for blocks and steals combined.

Those two categories are particularly risky in that players can get called for fouls if not careful.

As a note, I couldn’t find anything on rare double-doubles that stood out, just only for in the triple-double category.

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But that doesn’t change the fact that double-doubles are more common in the NBA nowadays.

For starters, many players reach double-digits points in a game, on each team. This includes players off the bench.

So, it’s not too much of a stretch for one of those guys to rack up stats in another category. 

Who has the most double-doubles in NBA History?

The top double-double players came as a surprise to me when comparing to the current triple-double leaders.

That’s because there are many active players on the triple-double leaderboard including the leader, Russell Westbrook.

It seems that once the double-double is achieved, there’s a push to reach double digits for 3 categories in the very same game. 

In any case, the all-time double-double leader happens to be Tim Duncan with 841 in the bag.

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The only active player in the top 10 is none other than Lebron James with 544. He ranks exactly in 10th place.

As for Russell Westbrook, he occupies the 14th spot with 498.

Lastly, the record for double-doubles in a single NBA season is 72, set by Hakeem Olajuwon in 1992-93. 

This was around at the height of his career with the Houston Rockets. Olajuwon and the Rockets won the NBA championship twice in 1994 and 1995.

Double-Double NBA All-Time Leaderboard

Player NameGames PlayedDouble-Doubles
1Tim Duncan1392841
2Karl Malone1476814
3Hakeem Olajuwon1238775
4Dwight Howard1242748
5Kevin Garnett1462742
6Shaquille O'Neal1207727
7John Stockton1504714
8Charles Barkley1073710
9Patrick Ewing1183580
10Lebron James1413544
TiedDavid Robinson987544

Final Thoughts

With five players on the court and the backup on the bench, it’s nice to see every player contribute to the team. 

When things are going right, the team is like a well-oiled machine with rhythm and flow.

The guards are contributing with passes and three-pointers on offense, along with steals on defense.

Meanwhile, your post players are stacking up the field goals, layups and dunks while collecting rebounds. 

The center should be perfectly covering both ends of the court.

So, when a player scores the double-double, their effort needs to be appreciated.

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And you can tell when they’ve achieved the feat, since they were playing one hell-of-a-game.

While fans see the triple-double as the pinnacle of benchmarks to hit, you’re looking at only a handful of players that can manage it. 

Remember, you don’t want players to get selfish and pad their own stats. 

The double-double should follow the team win. 

It must be earned.