Nikola Jokic had 29 triple doubles this year during the regular season. While he didn't win the MVP, his total of 29 was ten more than his previous high of 19, which occurred last season. With any NBA statistic, what first jumps off the page as "wow, that's impressive" is better evaluated by how it compares to other single season performances. In the history of the NBA, Jokic's 29 triple doubles ranks 6th all time. The leader? Russell Westbrook, who had 42 triple doubles during the 2016-2017 NBA regular season.
Jokic, who just finished his 8th season in the NBA, is only 27 years old. If he continues to play at this pace, where would he rank all-time in regards to triple doubles? Let's take a look.
NBA All Time Leaders in Triple Doubles (Regular Season)
Below is the regular season list for every NBA player to record 21 or more triple doubles in their career. As you can see, Jokic already has 105. If you combine the last two seasons, he's averaged 24 triple doubles per season. If he were to keep that up for 8 more seasons until he was 35 years old, he would record another 192 triple doubles and have 297 for his career. The only player that could potentially catch him would be Luka Doncic, who has 56 triple doubles in 5 NBA seasons. This past season, he had 10. At that pace, Luka would have to play for 24.1 more seasons and average 10 triple doubles per game to match Jokic at 297.
NBA All Time Leaders in Triple Doubles (Regular and Post Seasons)
But winning matters, right? So, it makes that we shouldn't only look at the regular season. In the chart below, you'll see the triple double career statistics for all games (regular and post seasons). Westbrook is still in first place, but guys like Magic and LeBron have moved up the charts due to their post-season success.
Jokic, who has limited post season success, has still played well in the playoffs. His 11 triple doubles in 8 seasons look pretty good vs. Westbrook's 12 in 15 seasons. Of note, 5 of the 11 have come thus far in the 2022-2023 playoffs.
The Triple Double G.O.A.T
It's wishful thinking to think that Jokic will accumulate 297 regular season triple doubles in his career. He's a big man and will undoubtably have some injuries as he ages. However, because he doesn't rely on being athletically superior today, there's a good chance that his game will translate well in his 30's. Throw in the continued evolution of the NBA to be more friendly to the offense, and the perfect storm is brewing.
8 years is a long time, and a lot will happen over that time. Let's be bold, though, and say that Jokic will be the first NBA player to record 300 regular season triple doubles in his career.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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