There have been 17 players in NBA history to rack up a triple-double before they were legally allowed to buy a drink. The latest to make the list is future Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic, who became the second youngest when he lost his triple-double virginity by putting up 18 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds on the 327th day of his 19th year on earth.
Despite the accomplishment, Luka wasn’t in the mood for celebrating since the day also ended with the Mavs fourth straight loss.
“I didn’t play good at all,” Doncic said after the game. “I missed some shots that I shouldn’t miss.”
Speaking of missed shots, Markelle Fultz is the youngest player to ever record a triple-double; he was 10 days younger than Luka when he put up 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on a joyous 2018 night that saw the 76ers win their 16th consecutive game.
The youngest before him was fellow 2017 lottery pick Lonzo Ball (20 years, 15 days) who had 19/13/12 just three months earlier.
Before Zo, the record was held by LeBron James (20 years, 20 days) in 2005, when Luka was five years old. LeBron’s 27/11/10 performance would be the first of five triple-doubles before he turned 21. Among those five was a 40-point performance against the Bucks. The 40 was also the most points ever scored in a triple-double by a player under 21.
Also worth mentioning about the King, he had a 32-point triple-double in his first playoff game (2006) and he also became the first player to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals (2017).
The record for most triple-doubles by a player under 21 belongs to triple-double king Magic Johnson. LeBron’s current “boss” had seven during the rookie season that ended with him playing center for injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals and racking up 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists in the championship-clinching game.
One big difference between the time Magic was filling up the boxscores and now is NOBODY cared about triple-doubles back then. They didn’t even know what it was because the term “triple-double” didn’t even exist. But since Magic was getting so many of them, basketball statistician Harvey Pollack “created it” and Lakers public relations director Bruce Jolesch started promoting it.
A triple-double is so common now, it’s actually surprising when a night goes by and we aren’t’ talking about at least one. I’m not going to upset anyone and say getting one now is harder than it was 20 years ago but I will say I wasn’t as excited when Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox got a triple-double last year as I was when players like Lamar Odom (2000) and Antoine Walker (1997) were getting triple-doubles at age 20.
Here’s a complete list of NBA players with a triple-double before age 21.
- Lonzo Ball (2)
- Luka Doncic
- De’Aaron Fox
- Markelle Fultz
- Jrue Holiday
- LeBron James (5)
- Magic Johnson (7)
- Lamar Odom (3)
- Chris Paul (2)
- Shareef Abdur-Rahim
- Dennis Smith
- Antoine Walker (2)
- John Wall
- Chris Webber
- Russell Westbrook
- Tony Wroten