The NBA has some incredible scoring talents. This past season, we witnessed some phenomenal scoring feats by the game’s most exciting players from all positions. Thanks to new NBA rules and scoring-based paradigm shifts, teams are looking to put up as many points as possible on the board in the most effective way.
Since the NBA has arguably the best athletes in the world, scoring the ball will be a pleasure to watch. However, there are levels to everything, and even the game’s best scorers can be separated.
By separating into four major levels, including the Best of the Best, here are the 30 best scorers ranked by skill and ability.
Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Louis Williams, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Jrue Holiday
When it comes to level 1 scorers, these guys can score at a star-level, and can almost guarantee 20 points a night at the minimum. These guys are All-Star quality players, who are still one of the main options on the team- if not the main option.
Doncic had an incredible rookie season last year, winning the ROY Award and showcasing supreme offensive talent. He is an excellent shooter from the three-point line and beyond, and can even absorb contact at the rim thanks to his broad build. The future is very bright for Doncic, who seems to be a 25 ppg career scorer in the making.
Jokic is the only big on this list and is the main offensive option for the Denver Nuggets. He’s a tremendous playmaker, but can also score on the inside and outside. Jokic is a prototypical big man on offense, who can shoot from deep and also use his size down low. He is easily a Top-2 center in the game today.
Holiday and Butler are both defensive specialists who can also score in bunches. Holiday plays both guard spots, and can pretty much do it all. He is very underrated and an All-Star quality player, who will try to lead the young Pelicans team in the scoring category. Butler is now the main man for the Miami Heat. He can score inside and is proficient form the mid-range. Even though he is an average 3-point shooter, Butler’s sheer passion for being one of the best players in the game allows him to score points whenever he wants.
Tobias Harris and Louis Williams are mostly perimeter players, who rely on finesse and skill. Harris is a thick forward who can score from both the inside and the outside but is especially proficient from the perimeter. He has developed a very soft jumper that will be vital to the Sixers’ success this season. Williams is just a pure scorer, who is able to create his own shot. This is a luxury for any team, especially when he is on the floor as the sixth man off the bench. Williams is a strong perimeter scorer but also has enough skill to finish around defenders around the bucket.
Donovan Mitchell, Karl-Anthony Towns, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, C.J. McCollum, D’Angelo Russell, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin
Mitchell is a two-way player, but also an excellent offensive player. He has a quick first step, similar to a young Dwyane Wade, and excels at finishing at the basket or nailing perimeter jump-shots. He is also very young and can be an even more potent scorer.
LaVine also has a quick first step and is a very good shooter from deep as well. He has tremendous bounce, which allows him to finish at the rim and even amaze us with spectacular dunks. LaVine also has plenty of room to grow and can be even more effective in creating his own shot.
The two Spurs, Aldridge, and DeRozan are masters of the mid-range shot. DeRozan can post-up smaller defenders and rise up for easy buckets, or pull up for a sweet jumper. Aldridge prefers a mid-range fadeaway or a pick-n-pop with his point guard but is just as effective from mid-range. Both players are not very effective three-point shooters, although they can make them when they are hot.
Griffin is a brute player who prefers to finish inside but has also extended his range to the perimeter. Griffin is a much better shooter, and can even drain three’s when he feels he has even space. Griffin has slowly developed into an excellent offensive player and is one of the best power forwards in the league.
Karl-Anthony Towns has the potential to be one of the best offensive players in the game, with an amazing mix of skills and size. Towns is a solid shooter from the perimeter but also can take defenders inside the post. He is still very young and will be one of the best players in the world very soon.
Both McCollum and Russell are amazing scorers, thanks to their perimeter sharpshooting. McCollum has a unique ability to take over games with his offense and is particularly effective in the mid-range. He is quick and has all the skills of a natural-born scorer. Russell can shoot it from very deep but is also exceptional at scoring at the rim. Russell is very adept at avoiding contact and laying it up with style.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook
Level 3 scorers are superstar scorers who can simply be unstoppable at times. With a very varied skill-set, these guys can put the ball in the basket at will.
Giannis, Embiid, and Davis both rely on their incredible size, athleticism, and unique skill sets that allow them to dominate games offensively. Giannis moves like a point guard but has a wing-span over 7 feet. So Giannis can finish at the rim with perfection and is simply unguardable down low. Embiid is a post-player who has all the moves in the toolbag, including jump hooks and fadeaway jumpers. He also has an extended range all the way outside to the perimeter and might be the best center in the league.
Davis has the skills of a guard despite playing both the power forward and center position. Davis can shoot from the perimeter, finish inside, and do everything else. He is easily a top-5 player in this game, and still has plenty of time to improve and become one of the best scorers we have ever seen.
Devin Booker is a perimeter player, who has an ability to get hot similar to how Kobe Bryant used to. Booker once dropped 70 points in a single game and still has a decade before he hits his peak. Booker is a great shooter from the perimeter and is an improving offensive player that will soon be able to do it all.
George and Leonard both made their names on the defensive end originally, but have developed superstar offensive games that make them two-way players. George can shoot, create his own shot, and attack the basket. Similarly, Leonard can take you inside and outside and has developed an incredible ability to get to his spots.
Klay Thompson can also play on both ends but is arguably a top-two shooter of all-time. He can break records with his three-point shooting, as he has done in the past, and will look to set more records with his incredible shooting ability.
Kyrie and Westbrook both play the same position, but go about scoring in different ways. Irving uses his pure talent at dribbling to create space and nail beautiful jumpers from the perimeter. He is also very adept at finishing at the rim and is a very skillful player around the rim. Westbrook, on the other hand, plays with brute force and athleticism and almost forces the ball inside the basket. He attacks the rim with great ferocity and this is what allows him to get easy layups, especially in transition. Westbrook also has a very effective mid-range game and can rise and swish shots with ease. If he improved his horrific three-point percentage, he might find himself a level higher.
Kemba Walker is an explosive guard who relies on quickness, incredible handles, and perimeter shooting to get his buckets. Walker is also another player who can get hot really fast and explode for 40 points during a game.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Damian Lillard
Level 4 scorers are unique talents that are able to score the ball whenever they want. These guys are simply the best in the game and have an almost unstoppable ability to scorch defenders with their offense.
Stephen Curry is a two-time MVP mainly due to his unbelievable scoring ability from the perimeter. Widely recognized as the best shooter of all time, Curry can get hot from the three-point line and put teams away in a matter of minutes. Since Curry is able to get his shot off whenever he wants, due to his quick release, he is one of the most unstoppable scorers we have ever seen.
Similarly, Damian Lillard has an incredible range that extends all the way to half-court. Lillard is not only an effective shooter but can also attack the basket with quickness and aggression. What puts Lillard into this level is also his scoring in the clutch, and he has proven he is a big-time player.
LeBron James is just a physical beast who can take over games with his strength and athleticism. James cannot be stopped when he wants to get to the rim, and he has made a living off of his finishing at the basket. With an improved jump-shot added to his game a few years back, James is one of the most unstoppable players in NBA history.
Durant might be the best scorer on Level 4, thanks to a mix of pure talent, skill, and height. Durant can shoot over any defender in the league and can drop 30 points in his sleep. He is near perfection from three, the free-throw line, and everywhere in between. Durant is quick with incredible handles, so he is able to break down any defender and finish at the rim if he wants. When it comes to pure scoring, Durant has an argument for the best ever.
Best of the Best
James Harden, without a doubt, is the best scorer in the league.
It is no wonder why Kobe Bryant, one of the best scorers of all time, would choose Harden as the man he would choose to build a team around. Greatness recognizes greatness, and Harden’s ability to score an astronomical amount of points in a short matter of time puts him at the top.
A signature move, Harden’s step-back jumper is hated by everyone who is not a Rocket’s fan. And that is simply because you cannot stop it. Harden is smart enough to initiate contact with this shot and forces refs to blow the whistle constantly. When defended tightly on the perimeter, Harden is one of the best ever at attacking the rim and finishing either over or under defenders. More often than not, he is crafty enough to earn trips to the free-throw line for easy points every night.
After averaging over a whopping 36 points per game last season, Harden is the king of scoring the basketball.