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Best Scorers in the NBA All-Time

8 Jul

February 9, 2012

Larry Bird – Larry Bird was one of the best scoring shooters in National Basketball Association history. He was considered to be a poor athlete, slow and not at all explosive, but no one could stop him from getting his shot off and getting to the rim. He scored over smaller players and went around the larger ones. His three point shooting separated him from the shooters of the past. He was as efficient behind the line as he was anywhere on the court. Bird is one of two players to have multiple 50/40/90 seasons where a player shoots 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three point arc, and 90 percent from the free throw line. He is the only player to it while scoring 25 points or more. He averaged 28.1 and 29.9 points per game in those seasons.

Total Points: 21,791  Highest PPG Average: 29.9 Years Played: 13


Hakeem Olajuwon – Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the most talented scorers from the post that ever played the game. He combined rare athleticism with perfect footwork and a unique skill set. Olajuwon had a counter for every move that a defense made. He spun away from double-teams on one play, split them on the next, and then stepped back and shot over them on the succeeding play. Though Olajuwon was not as prolific as some of the scorers on this list, he was one of the most versatile scoring centers in league history.

Total Points: 26,946  Highest PPG Average: 27.9 Years Played: 18

Julius Erving – Dr. J scored the basketball with style. He is known for some of the most memorable, sweeping aerial moves in NBA history, but what is forgotten is his sweet jump shot. Dr. J had so many amazing dunks like the cradle dunk over Michael Cooper, and incredible moves at the rim, like his baseline reverse. But Julius Erving could put the basketball in the hole. He rebounded and got putbacks, he shot midrange and deep shots, and he played above everyone at the rim.

Total Points: 30,026* Highest PPG Average: 31.9 Years Played: 16


Kobe Bryant – Kobe patterned his game after Michael Jordan, but he did something not even Jordan did scoring 82 points in one game. He used the same fade-aways and touch shots that Jordan used. He worked on the same footwork that led Jordan to 3rd on the total points list, and even spent summers learning under Hakeem Olajuwon to hone his post moves. Kobe has broken into the top tenin total points and is showing little signs of stopping in the next few years.

Total Points: 28,527  Highest PPG Average: 35.4 Years Played: 15-present


Dominique Wilkins – Dominique Wilkins is one of the most underrated basketball players to reach the NBA. He is often thought of as just an exciting dunker with few other skills. He was considered to be a great athlete and nothing more. On the contrary, Dominique was as elite scorer that made most of his points on short bank shots and free throw line jumpers. He knew how to get his shot off and put it in the basket. Though he was an amazingly gifted athlete, he was also a skilled basketball player. Perception is not reality with Dominique.

Total Points: 26,668  Highest PPG Average:  30.7 Years Played: 15


Karl Malone – Karl Malone is one of the most unstoppable scorers in league history. He started under the basket, bruising his way to buckets early in his career, but his game gradually moved further out each year. By the end of his career, Malone was deadly from 18 feet in. He learned to play on the perimeter and it lengthened his career while helping him to efficiently maintain his scoring average. He averaged 25.0 points per game on 51.6% field goal percentage throughout his career.

Total Points: 36,928  Highest PPG Average: 30.9 Years Played: 19


Allen Iverson – Allen Iverson changed the professional game of basketball. He brought a little street into a game that was completely fundamental and missing its flashiest and most talented player (he began to rise just as Michael Jordan retired). Allen Iverson made basketball interesting again. He was a little man that played above the rim occasionally. He was lightning quick with the basketball and the fastest guy in the league from one end of the court to the other. He was a blur and an anomaly. A super athlete trapped in a tiny body. A shooting guard stuck with a point guard’s build. At 6’1 (really 5’10″ish) and 160 lbs., he won scoring titles and dominated the front court. Allen Iverson won a NBA MVP and took a 76′ers team without one other scorer to the NBA Finals. He is the best little man in NBA history.

Total Points: 24,368  Highest PPG Average:  33.0 Years Played: 14

Kareem Abdul Jabbar – Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the most consistent scorer that ever played in the league. Jabbar played for 20 years and averaged 24.6 points for his career with 19 All-Star appearances. Until his last three years in the league and at the age of 39, he had never averaged under 20 points in a season.  Kareem created the single most indefensible shot in the history of basketball, the sky hook. It could not be blocked by the man that guarded him.

Total Points: 38,387  Highest PPG Average:  34.8 Years Played: 20


Wilt Chamberlain – Wilt Chamberlain is the most prolific scorer in the annals of the National Basketball Association. He is one of two players to score 3,000 points in a single season and the only person to score 4,000. He is the only player to average 50 points per game in a season; no one else has ever averaged 40 points per game. Wilt is the only player to score 100 points in an NBA game. He dominated his competition throughout his career by being the best athlete in the league.

Total Points: 31,419  Highest PPG Average:  50.4 Years Played: 14


Michael Jordan – Michael Jordan was the most complete scorer that ever played the game. He could score the basketball in all three ranges on the court, in the paint, at mid-range, and from deep. Jordan played the game over the rim when he first entered the league. He finished over all the great centers of his era and blew past the guards. He developed a mid-range game in his first few years of professional basketball and became one of the most unstoppable players in league history. But when he developed a three point shot, Jordan became the best scorer and basketball player on the planet.

Total Points: 32,292  Highest PPG Average: 37.1  Years Played: 15

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