The NBA has been a source of entertainment for decades. Its players have become icons and legends, with some of them becoming the best scorers in history. This list will rank the top seven scorers in NBA history.
Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 17th 1963. Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 23rd, 1978. Both players have been the best scorers in their respective sports and are two of the seven most skilled scorers in NBA history.
Elite scorers have a way of capturing the attention of fans all around the globe. The game’s best scorers are typically the most popular players, and they get the most credit for their skills on the court. After all, the goal of basketball is to outscore your opponent, and these seven guys accomplished just that.
Based on their whole arsenal of scoring statistics and offensive honors, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 most talented scorers in NBA history. It will be difficult for any other player to do what these 7 superstars have done on the offensive end after evaluating their ability to score in all areas of the game. These players were all guards or forwards, and there’s no room for big men who averaged a lot of points but couldn’t score in as many different ways as these guys can.
Tracy McGrady (#7)
Orlando Pinstriped Post is credited with this image.
2 awards for scoring
PPG for a career: 19.6
32.1, 28.0, and 26.8 are the top three highest season PPGs.
Tracy McGrady’s dominance throughout his peak will be remembered forever. The Hall of Famer was a prolific scorer for the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets, where he established himself as one of the league’s top three shooting guards. When McGrady was moved to the Orlando Magic in 2001, he quickly developed into a terrific player and earned Most Improved Player.
It was remarkable that he went from 15.4 points per game to 26.8 points per game in a single season, and the All-Star would go on to average a career-high 32.0 points per game two seasons later. Even though they had playoff success with other superstars like Dwight Howard, the Magic never had a player with McGrady’s talents.
On offense, McGrady could do it all, from getting to the rim to rising up for shots over hapless defenders. His 13 points in 33 seconds was perhaps the best offensive stretch we’d ever seen from a player, and the 6’8″ scorer was an unstoppable force in crunch time. McGrady’s career was cut short by injuries, but he was a great scorer during his time in the league.
2 awards for scoring
PPG for a career: 24.2
32.0, 30.1, and 27.3 are the top three highest season PPGs.
It’s incredible how a 6’3″ point guard can alter the game, but Stephen Curry accomplished it almost immediately after becoming an All-Star. Curry made all NBA teams, as well as the rest of the globe, aware of the importance of the three-point shot. It’s just a matter of time until the future Hall of Famer breaks the record for most three-pointers made in an NBA career.
Curry has won two scoring championships, the most recent coming last season when he almost led a youthful Warriors team to the playoffs. Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, and Larry Bird were all excellent shooters in NBA history, but none of them could manufacture their own shot from 30 feet as Curry can.
The Baby-Faced Assassin poses a danger as soon as he stands in front of the half-court line, and opponents are prepared to forego layups in order to prevent Curry from shooting from beyond the arc. Cury has shown that his marksmanship can take over games, as seen by his two MVP Awards. Curry is a complete offensive superstar, with a variety of flip moves and layups near the rim in addition to his shooting.
James Harden (#5)
3 awards for scoring
PPG for a career: 25.1
36.1, 34.3, and 30.4 are the top three highest season PPGs.
What James Harden has accomplished over the last several seasons is legendary, and many are already declaring The Beard to be the greatest isolation player of all time. It’s difficult to disagree with it based on statistics and effect. Harden does it in a manner that irritates supporters of other teams, which is presumably why he gets so much flak.
James Harden lives and breathes the three-point line, the free-throw line, and the basket. He seldom shoots from mid-range and is an expert at generating fouls for easy baskets. We haven’t seen a guy score as many points as Harden has in recent years since the likes of Wilt Chamberlain.
While he obviously benefits from current NBA regulations, The Beard has won three scoring championships and averaged 33.7 points per game from 2018 (his MVP season) through 2020. While playing in Brooklyn alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving may have an impact on his scoring statistics, Harden has already shown that he is a top-7 scorer in NBA history.
Kevin Durant (#4)
Credit: Associated Press/Frank Franklin II
Awards for Excellence: 4
PPG for a career: 27.0
32.0, 30.1, and 28.2 are the top three highest season PPGs.
Because the 6’10” swingman is one of the most dominating offensive players of all time, it’s remarkable that the Oklahoma City Thunder had James Harden and Kevin Durant on the same team at one point. Durant is the third-leading scorer in NBA history, behind only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. His biggest strength is his ability to score against any defense.
Because Durant is very long and has a high-release jumper, he is unaffected by good defense. Durant can get a decent shot anytime he wants and is a very effective scorer as a result. Durant has a lifetime scoring average of 27.0 points per game while shooting 49.4% from the field, 38.4% from three, and 88.3% from the free-throw line.
Durant, in addition to having a sniper-like jumper, has great handling that enable him to slice and dice his way to the basket. The “Slim Reaper” can slam it over hapless opponents or finish with an easy two when he gets to the basket. George Gervin, a former great and current Hall of Famer, had a similar physique to Durant and won four scoring championships, but Durant has a superior jumper with three-point range. There isn’t much more to say about Kevin Durant except that he is one of the best.
Allen Iverson (#3)
Awards for Excellence: 4
PPG throughout a career: 26.7
33.0, 31.4, and 31.1 are the top three highest season PPGs.
Most NBA experts think that if Allen Iverson had been at least 6’6″, he would have been the best player in the league without a doubt. As a scorer, The Answer had it all: shooting skill, handling, quickness, and boundless heart. Iverson would absorb blows whenever he drove to the basket, but he would complete his shot and often go to the free-throw line.
Iverson was a mastermind behind his own offense. Stepbacks, cross-over maneuvers, and every layup in the book were all in his arsenal. The 6’0″ guard dominated the game for a long time, earning four scoring championships, an MVP award, and leading the 76ers to the NBA Finals in 2001.
People still make fun of Iverson for his “practice” tirade, but he was good enough not to need to practice in the first place. Few players in NBA history have ever worked as hard as Iverson and dominated the scoring charts as much as he did. Iverson averaged over 30 points per game for four seasons and is without a doubt one of the best scorers of all time.
Kobe Bryant, No. 2
2 awards for scoring
PPG for a career: 25.0
35.4, 31.6, and 30.0 are the top three highest season PPGs.
Bryant’s scoring championships and lifetime PPG average aren’t as high as some of the others on this list, but his offensive game was flawless. Only one guy could argue that he was a greater scorer than Kobe Bryant, and he was the “Black Mamba’s” hero. In a word, Bryant was so far ahead of everyone else that he deserved to be on his own level.
Over the course of his career, Kobe won two scoring championships and had three seasons in which he scored more than 30 points per game. He may have had the best scoring season since Wilt Chamberlain in 2006, averaging 35.4 points per game. Bryant scored 81 points in a single game and 62 points through three quarters while single-handedly outscoring the Dallas Mavericks.
Nobody compares to what Bryant brought to the game as a scorer in terms of talent. He possessed incredible footwork, the best by a non-center in NBA history, and was capable of playing 1-on-5 if his Lakers teams needed to win. As a youthful, afroed #8 and then as a mature #24, Kobe was unstoppable. Only one player has ever managed to outscore Bryant as a scorer, and that guy happens to be the greatest player in history.
Michael Jordan is number one.
Andy Hayt is responsible for this image.
10 points for each category.
PPG for a career: 30.1
37.1, 35.0, and 33.6 are the top three highest season PPGs.
Michael Jordan is the GOAT, the greatest superstar in NBA history, and the only player to win ten scoring championships. As a basketball player, Jordan broke new ground, taking what Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had accomplished and bringing the game to a global audience. Michael Jordan is a name that almost everyone on the planet is familiar with, and it’s difficult not to be.
Jordan was probably the greatest winner in basketball and sports history. Whether it was in college, the NBA, or on a global scale, he never lost a championship game. Jordan was 6-0 in the Finals with 6 Finals MVPs, led the NBA in scoring 10 times in his 15-year career, and had every offensive move imaginable.
Jordan was not only the best scorer of all time, but he was also the most outstanding athlete of his position. Jordan seemed to float during games, leaping over opponents to score and making highlight-reel plays after highlight-reel plays. Jordan is the GOAT, and his unstoppable scoring ability, as well as his deadly instinct, are the primary reasons for this. Simply check up Jordan’s best offensive maneuvers to see how he was not human and could remain in the air longer than any other player to score. Because there can never be another Michael Jordan, he earns the title of NBA’s greatest talented scorer.
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