The NBA is a scorer’s league. It’s always been a scorer’s league, even though it was played at a different pace and with more of a defensive-oriented style back in the day.
However, the league’s rules favor the offensive player and most fans would rather watch their favorite player go off for 40 points instead of watching a defensive, physical matchup at a slow pace. At least, most modern fans would.
Moreover, the league has seen some offensive juggernauts completely dominant opposing defenders throughout the course of history. That’s why today, we’re going to honor them by talking about the 10 highest-scoring seasons in NBA history in the three-point era.
10. Russell Westbrook
2,558 PTS (2016-17 Season)
Russell Westbrook is the kind of player who always plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s a competitor and he’s determined to prove that he can outplay everybody else. Gladly, we saw that at its peak during the 2016-17 season when Kevin Durant had just left the Thunder.
Westbrook had to prove that he didn’t need Durant or anybody else to lead the Thunder to the playoffs. He averaged a league-high 31.6 points per game on 24 attempts a night. Also, he shot 42/34/82 while averaging 2.5 three-pointers and 8.8 free throws per game.
9. Michael Jordan
2,580 PTS (1990-91 Season)
Michael Jordan is the greatest scorer in NBA history and that’s just a fact. He didn’t even need to shoot three-pointers to dominate all defenses and pave the way to the highest-scoring point-per-game average in the history of the game at 30.12 PPG.
And even though he had been around the league for quite some time, the Black Cat didn’t take his feet off the gas during the 1990-91 season, averaging 315. points while taking just 1.1 triples per game (he made 29 three-pointers). Also, he shot 53% from the floor and only went to the line 8.2 times a game.
8. George Gervin
2,585 PTS (1979-80 Season)
Back in the day, the San Antonio Spurs weren’t the winning franchise we know nowadays. They struggled to keep up with some of their competition, so it was up to George Gervin to do his best to try and make the playoffs. That’s why he became one of the deadliest scorers of the 70s.
Gervin won 4 Scoring Titles throughout his career but it was in 1979-80 when he really took things up a notch. He averaged a career-high 33.1 points per game on 52% shooting while attempting just 1.3 three-pointers (he scored 32 three-pointers) and 7.6 free-throws a night. That’s just sick efficiency.
7. Kevin Durant
2,593 PTS (2013-14 Season)
Kevin Durant has never averaged under 20.0 points per game since entering the league. That’s just the kind of God-given talent he has and how much of an offensive unicorn he is. Back in 2013-14, he had already won 3 Scoring Titles in just 6 seasons in the league.
But in 2014 we saw arguably the most aggressive Kevin Durant we’ve seen so far.
He averaged a career-high 32.0 points per game on 50/39/87 shooting splits. Notably, he was also taking 6.1 threes and 9.9 freebies per game, which makes his splits even more impressive.
6. Michael Jordan
2,633 PTS (1988-89 Season)
It didn’t take long before Michael Jordan put the world on notice. He was the most unstoppable player every time out there, and he didn’t hesitate to let everybody know that he was the new king in time. Back in 1988-89, he was already a two-time Scoring Champion.
And even though Jordan’s scoring average took a slight bump, he was still dominating at a whopping 32.5 points per game. Jordan knocked down 11.9 of his 22.2 shots per game (53%) and also shot 85% from the line on 9.8 free throw attempts per game. That season, he only scored 27 three-pointers.
5. Michael Jordan
2,753 PTS (1989-90 Season)
Michael Jordan makes our list again after winning his fourth straight Scoring Title in the 1989-90 season. Everybody knew he could score at will and that he was the best player in the world but he had yet to find any kind of success in the playoffs.
Jordan played all 82 games that season and averaged 33.6 points per game while knocking down 52.6% of his shots. He was slightly more aggressive as a three-point shooter with 3.0 attempts per game. He shot 37% from beyond the arc and made 92 three-pointers.
4. James Harden
2,818 PTS (2018-19 Season)
James Harden has slowly put his name in the ‘greatest scorer ever’ conversation. You may like what he’s doing or not, but the way he’s bending the rules in his favor and making a fool out of defenders is definitely worth noting. Obviously, he was at his best during the 2018-19 campaign.
Harden put together one of the most impressive scoring runs in NBA history last year with 32 straight games of at least 30 points. He averaged a career-high 36.1 points per game on 44/36/88 while taking 11.0 free throws and 13.2 threes per game.
3. Kobe Bryant
2,832 PTS (2005-06 Season)
Kobe Bryant had one of the greatest seasons in NBA history in 2005-06. He scored his career-high 81 points (55 in one half), averaged 43.4 points in January, 41.6 in April, and had 27 40-point games. That was something the league hadn’t seen since Wilt Chamberlain.
Kobe’s 35.4 points per game in 2005-06 were a career-best and he won the first of his two Scoring Titles. Also, he shot 45/34/85 from the floor while taking 10.2 trips to the line, and 6.5 three-pointers per game while taking 27.2 shots a night.
He only scored 2.3 three-pointers per game. Black Mamba. One and only.
2. Michael Jordan
2,868 PTS (1987-88 Season)
Michael Jordan had already made a name for himself in the league. He had been around for three seasons and was coming off the most impressive scoring campaign the NBA had seen since Wilt Chamberlain but he still wasn’t satisfied.
Jordan’s Bulls continued to struggle to find success in the playoffs despite his 35.0 points per game. More impressively, he was taking less than 1 three-point attempt per game and only went to the line an average of 10.5 times per game. He attempted only 53 three-pointers and only made 7 of them.
35.0 POINTS PER GAME WITH ONLY 7 THREE-POINTERS. Michael Jordan. The G.O.A.T.
We’re talking about a 35-point-per-game season on 53% shooting. That’s just incredible.
1. Michael Jordan
3,041 PTS – (1986-87 Season)
Michael Jordan’s rookie campaign was one of the ages but the rest of his teammates kind of underperformed. He missed most of his sophomore year with a foot injury, so it was until his third season when he finally broke out as the greatest scoring ever.
Jordan averaged a career-high 37.1 points per game while taking 27.8 shots, knocking down 48% of them. He was the most aggressive player out there with 11.9 trips to the line per game. The most impressive part of it is the fact that he knocked down a grand total of 12 three-pointers throughout the season.
37.1 POINTS PER GAME WITH ONLY 12 THREE-POINTERS.
Michael Jordan is the best mid-range shooter in NBA history. If you don’t like that article, you don’t like NBA basketball. Just kidding, but still check why MJ is the best mid-range shooter of all-time.
AND YES, HE WOULD SCORE MORE THAN 40 POINTS PER GAME in the modern NBA. Because he is the G.O.A.T.