Good players are measured by the regular season, but legends are held to a higher standard because they deliver when it matters the most: the playoffs.
Throughout the course of history, we’ve seen some superstars completely vanish in the postseason, while superstars have taken a step forward to try and lead their team at all costs.
And since the dawn of the NBA, there have only been 9 playoff series where a player has averaged at least 40 points per game, and today, we’re going to let you know everything you need to know about them:
Elgin Baylor 1962 Finals Vs. Celtics – 40.6 PPG on 43% shooting
There was no stopping Elgin Baylor during the early ’60s, and he made sure to prove it during the NBA Finals when his beloved Los Angeles Lakers faced the Boston Celtics.
Baylor averaged 40.6 PPG and scored 502 total points to go along with 17.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. However, the Celtics prevailed in 7 games led by Bill Russell, Sam Jones, and Tom Heinsohn.
Jerry West 1965 WCF Vs. Bullets – 46.3 PPG on 45% shooting
We all know Jerry West is one of the fiercest scorers in the history of the game, but it feels like we just don’t give him enough credit nowadays for the way he could put the ball in the basket.
Back in the day, he was a driving force on both sides of the court, as he showed in 1965 when the Lakers faced the Bullets in the WCF. Back then, he scored 447 total points and 46.3 points per game, but the Lakers lost 4-2.
Rick Barry 1967 Finals Vs. 76ers – 40.8 PPG on 40% shooting
Long before Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, the Golden State (San Francisco) Warriors had the great Rick Barry, an unstoppable scorer that wouldn’t go down without a fight.
He proved that during the 1967 NBA Finals when he faced Hal Greer and the Philadelphia 76ers, scoring 40.8 points per game (521 total points). However, his team lost in 6 games at the hands of the Sixers.
Bernard King 1984 First Round Vs. Pistons – 42.6 PPG on 60% shooting
We don’t talk enough about how dominant Bernard King was back in the day. As his last name said, he was the king of New York, and one of the league’s top-tier entertainers for sure.
He made sure to prove everybody that when the New York Knicks faced the Detroit Pistons back in 1984. Scoring 42.6 points per game, he led his team to the 2nd round in a nail-biting series that went the distance.
Michael Jordan 1986 First Round Vs. Celtics – 43.7 PPG on 50% shooting
Michael Jordan holds the highest points-per-game average on NBA history, so it’s not unusual to find him on this list. However, this was the first time we saw what he was truly capable of.
His Royal Airness was everywhere on the floor vs. the Celtics in 1986, scoring 43.7 points per game in Larry Bird’s face. Sadly, his Bulls were swept in three games.
Michael Jordan 1988 First Round Vs. Cavaliers – 45.2 PPG on 56% shooting
Michael Jordan got his revenge a couple of years later, when he faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs and completely demolished them.
Jordan scored an absurd 45.2 points per game on 56% from the floor, adding 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.8 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. Just unbelievable.
Michael Jordan 1990 ECSF Vs. 76ers – 43 PPG on 55% shooting
Michael Jordan was fairly considered the best player in the world in the ’90s, so he knew that he had to deliver at the biggest stage and when it mattered the most.
Luckily for the Bulls, he didn’t back down from any challenge and scored 587 total points in the playoffs, torching the Philadelphia 76ers for 43 a night.
Michael Jordan 1992 First Round Vs. Heat – 45 PPG on 61% shooting
This one has to be Michael Jordan’s most impressive playoff series ever. He didn’t just average his highest points-per-game total, but he also did it by shooting 61% from the floor.
Michael scored 759 total points throughout the playoffs and led the Chicago Bulls to the NBA Championship, proving once again that he was made for these moments.
Michael Jordan 1993 Finals Vs. Suns – 41 PPG on 50% shooting
And last, but not least, we find His Royal Airness once again at the top of our list, as the last player to ever average 40+ points per game throughout a playoff series.
Jordan scored 666 total points during the playoffs and put an end to Charles Barkley’s Championship dream with 41 points per game, including a 55 point performance. He’s, by far, the greatest scorer ever.