What is a Double Double in Basketball?

What is a double double in basketball and which NBA players are globally renowned as “double-double machines”?

As the sport of basketball has progressed over the years, new jargon and terms have evolved to describe certain skills, plays and performances.

One term which has been used for decades in the NBA to assess player performances is the “double double”. But what is a double double in basketball?

We’re here to give you a full rundown of this popular basketball term, including its origin, which NBA stars are synonymous with it, how to achieve one yourself, and more.

What is a Double Double in Basketball?

In basketball, a double-double is a term used to describe a player’s individual performance. Specifically, a double-double is accomplished when a player achieves 10 or more in two of the following five categories:

  • Points
  • Assists
  • Rebounds
  • Steals
  • Blocked Shots

As the name suggests, one “double” refers to attaining 10 or more points, assists, rebounds, steals or blocked shots – double digits. Then, the second “double” refers to achieving this feat in two of those five categories.

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The most common double doubles in basketball occur when 10 or more of the following three categories are achieved:

  • Points
  • Assists
  • Rebounds

It goes without saying that achieving a double double in basketball is celebrated. It’s not an easy feat, especially on the big stage in the NBA.

Breaking Down the Terms

Ok, so we’ve discovered the five potential categories involved in achieving a double-double. But what does each mean?

Points

In basketball, you can score two-pointers and three-pointers. Two-pointers are earned from short-range shots like dunks, while three-pointers are made from successful long-range shots.

If you do the math, you’ll realise that it is very easy to score 10 points in a single game. Most successful players will score 10 points early in the game. That’s your first “double”.

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Assists

An assist is earned by providing a player with a scoring opportunity, which they convert. If a player scores a basket, whoever passed the ball to them is the ‘assister’.

Point guards and small forwards tend to achieve the highest number of assists in a basketball game.

Rebounds

A rebound is when a player scores after a shot bounces off the rim or backboard into their hands. Naturally, you have to be very close to the net in order to receive the rebound and convert.

Players who spend time standing below the basket, like centers, have the best possible chance of scoring rebounds.

Double Double Meaning NBA

Steals

A steal is a defensive action which involves causing a turnover, legally, from the opposition’s attacking threat.

When it comes to achieving a double double in basketball, it is definitely one of the trickiest to reach 10 steals in one game. Quite often, a full team will fail to record 10 steals in one game.

Blocked Shots

A block is a defensive action that occurs when a player legally prevents at basket attempt from an opposition player and, subsequently, prevents them from scoring.

It is extremely difficult to reach 10 blocked shots in one match. To put it into perspective, Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks recorded the most blocks in the 2022/2023 season. He blocked 193 shots in 78 games, which was an average of just 2.47 blocks per game.

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Who are the NBA’s “Double-Double Machines”?

Now that we’ve explained exactly what a double double is in basketball, we should take a look at the guys that deliver double doubles on a regular basis. The “double-double machines” of the NBA.

Most Career Double Doubles in the NBA

Since the 1983-84 season, here are the “double-double machines” worth mentioning:

  • Tim Duncan has the most points-rebounds career double doubles (841)
  • John Stockton has the most points-assists career double doubles (714)
  • Russell Westbrook has the most rebounds-assists career double doubles (142)

In league history, Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for the most career double doubles with 968. Chamberlain also holds the record for consecutive double doubles – he achieved 227 in a row from 1964 to 1967!

Wilt Chamberlain NBA Stats

Who Recorded the Most Double Doubles in the 2022/2023 Season?

Domantas Sabonis scored 65 double-doubles in 79 games for the Sacramento Kings, which was the most in the 2022/2023 season. Denver’s Nikola Jokic was second with 58 double-doubles, and Nikola Vucevic was third with 52 for the Bulls.

Who Was the Youngest Player to Score a Double Double?

Seven-time NBA All-Star, Tracy McGrady, was the youngest player ever to score a double double in the NBA. At age 18 years and 175 days, McGrady achieved a double double while playing for the Toronto Raptors back in November 1997. He recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Who Was the Oldest Player to Record a Double Double?

Dikembe Mutombo achieved a double double for the Houston Rockets back in April 2009, aged 42 years and 289 days. He recorded 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Dikembe Mutombo

Best Strategy for Achieving a Double Double

The question has been answered: what is a double double in basketball?

Now, the real question is, can you achieve on yourself?

Rebounds are huge on your journey towards recording a double double in basketball. Rebounds are most likely to occur if you stay close to the net and keep an eye on the ball. Collecting the ball from the rebound also opens the opportunity to earn yourself an assist if that is a better option.

But, ultimately, shooting and scoring well will give you the best chance of scoring a double double. Better shooting and scoring will directly result in more points scored and more rebounds scored. Indirectly, your assists may improve too.

Remember, a combination of steals and blocked shots are the hardest way to achieve a double double. That will get the crowd going!

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