The NBA has seen some incredible scorers throughout the course of history, guys that have led the league in offense from start to finish, establishing themselves as the cream-of-the-crop and paving their ways to the Hall of Fame.
Still, not always scoring a lot of points translates winning NBA Championships. In fact, more often than not, guys are forced to carry the offensive load of their teams because they lack a second gunner that can take some pressure off of their shoulders.
Whatever the case may be, being the NBA’s Scoring champion is quite impressive and almost guarantees you a spot in the Hall of Fame. That’s why today, we’re going to take a look at the league’s last 40 winners of this award:
1979-80 – George Gervin (33.1 PPG)
George Gervin was unstoppable in the late ’70s. He had already won 2 straight Scoring titles but his best season came in 1979-80 when he scored 2,585 points and averaged a career-high 33.1 points on 52% from the floor. He played 78 games and over 37 minutes per game for the Spurs. However, they only won 41 games and lost in the first round to the Houston Rockets.
1980-81 – Adria Dantley (30.7 PPG)
25-year-old Adrian Dantley was coming off his first All-Star nod and took a step forward in 1980-81. He scored a grand total of 2,452 points but his Utah Jazz team struggled all year long. They won just 28 games and had the second-worst offense in the league.
1981-82 – George Gervin (32.3 PPG)
George Gervin already had three Scoring titles under his belt over the past four seasons. So, after a subpar campaign in 1980-81, he took it up a notch again and scored 2,551 points (32.3 ppg) on 50% shooting. The Spurs won 48 games and beat the Seattle Supersonics in the first round but were swept by the Lakers in the next round.
1982-83 – Alex English (28.4 PPG)
We don’t talk enough about Alex English but this guy was a walking bucket. There was just no stopping him in his prime and he led the league with 28.4 points per game and 2,326 total points in 1983. He shot 51% from the floor and the Denver Nuggets won 45 games. The beat the Suns in the first round but then couldn’t get past the Lakers in the second round.
1983-84 – Adrian Dantley (30.6 PPG)
Adrian Dantley was simply unstoppable in the 1983-84 season. He was finally able to lead the Jazz to a 45-win season thanks to his 2,418 total points on an impressive 55% shooting. They even beat the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs but later fell to the Phoenix Suns.
1984-85 – Bernard King (32.9 PPG)
Bernard King was one of the league’s biggest stars in the mid-’80s. He had his best season in 1984-85 when he averaged 32.9 points per game and then kind of fell off a cliff with a knee injury that cost him over a year. He scored 1,809 points that season in 53% from the floor. He only played 55 that season and his New York Knicks could only win 24 games all year.
1985-86 – Dominique Wilkins (30.3 PPG)
Dominique Wilkins hadn’t been around the league for long but he introduced himself to the world in 1986. He got his first All-Star nod, led the league in scoring (2,366 points on 46% shooting), and established himself as the Atlanta Hawks’ go-to-guy. His team won 50 games and they even beat the Pistons in the first round but then couldn’t handle the Boston Celtics.
1986-87 – Michael Jordan (37.1 PPG)
Michael Jordan took the league by storm right out of the gate but we saw the first glimpse of his greatness during the 1986-87 campaign. He had the highest-scoring season by a player not named Wilt Chamberlain with 3,041 points on 48% shooting. He averaged a career-high 37.1 points per game and his subpar Bulls won 40 games but weren’t ready to deal with the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.
1987-88 – Michael Jordan (35.0 PPG)
Jordan kept on improving and working on all aspects of his game. He was the best player and scorer in the world already and proved it by netting 2,868 points on 53% shooting that season and leading the Bulls to 50 wins. He finally got his first series win in the playoffs by knocking down the Cleveland Cavaliers but later fell at the hands of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons.
1988-89 – Michael Jordan (32.5 PPG)
Michael Jordan never took his feet off the gas. He continued to work on his craft and vowed to put an end to his playoff woes. He scored 2,633 total points on 53% from the floor while playing all 82 games. The Bulls won 47 of those matchups and beat the Cavs in the first round and then the Knicks. Sadly, the Pistons got the best of him again, this time in the Eastern Conference Finals.
1989-90 – Michael Jordan (33.6 PPG)
Jordan was equally loved and criticized at the end of the ’90s. He was clearly the best performer in the league but was unable to even make it to the Finals and that clearly motivated him. He scored 2,753 on 52% from the floor in 1989-90, leading the Bulls to 55 wins. They beat the Bucks in the playoffs and later handled the Sixers. However, his nemesis Pistons and the Jordan Rules beat them again in the ECF.
1990-91 – Michael Jordan (31.5 PPG)
Michael Jordan never stopped working and grinding. He took his teammates to the gym, added a lot of muscle, toughened up, and came back stronger than ever next season. Jordan once again led the league in scoring with 2,580 points on 53% from the floor. Chicago won 61 games and thrived in the playoffs by beating the Knicks, Sixers, and finally got past the Pistons with a 4-0 swept. They faced Magic and the Lakers in the Finals and beat them to win their first Championship in franchise history.
1991-92 – Michael Jordan (30.1 PPG)
Once Jordan took a taste of glory he made sure to kept on drinking from that fountain. He came back better next year, scored 2,404 points on 51% from the floor, and his almighty Chicago Bulls managed to win 67 games. They were at their best again in the playoffs, beating the Heat, Knicks, and Cavaliers and later handling the Blazers in the Finals.
1992-93 – Michael Jordan (32.6 PPG)
Jordan and the Bulls were coming off back-to-back titles, so why not make it three in a row? With that in mind, Jordan averaged 32.6 points per game and scored 2,541 points on 49% shooting. The bulls were slightly worst with 57 triumphs that season but then took it up a notch in the playoffs by handling the Hawks, Cavaliers, and Knicks. Then, Jordan took it personally to beat reigning MVP Charles Barkley in the Finals.
1993-94 – David Robinson (29.8 PPG)
When Jordan shockingly announced his retirement from the league, the NBA was up for grabs. David Robinson was one of the few players that made the most of that chance and won his first-ever Scoring title. He scored 2,383 points on 50% from the floor. The Spurs won 55 games and looked poised for their first Championship but then lost 3-1 to the Utah Jazz in the first round.
1994-95 – Shaquille O’Neal (29.3 PPG)
Meanwhile, a young center out of LSU was turning a lot of heads. Shaquille O’Neal dominated the league from day one and took it up a notch during his third year in the league. He scored 2,315 points on 58% shooting and led his team to 57 wins. The Magic beat the Celtics, Bulls, and Pacers in the playoffs but then were swept by Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets in the Finals. Shaq led a team to the Finals at 22 years old. Let that sink in.
1995-96 – Michael Jordan (30.4 PPG)
Jordan was done playing baseball. He missed the game and the game missed him so he made sure to pick up things right where he left them. The greatest player to ever live dominated once again with 2,491 total points on 49% from the floor. He led the greatest basketball team ever to a then-record 72-win season. They later finished the job in the playoffs by beating the Heat, Knicks, Magic, and then the Seattle Supersonics in the Finals.
1996-97 – Michael Jordan (29.6 PPG)
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were the guys to beat in the league. He proved it again by scoring an NBA-high 2,431 points on 48% from the floor following his 4th NBA Championship in the last 6 seasons. The Bulls won 69 regular-season games before taking care of the Bullets (Wizards), Hawks, and Heat before facing Karl Malone, John Stockton, and the Utah Jazz in the Finals.
1997-98 – Michael Jordan (28.7 PPG)
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were on their last dance in 1998. The front office was going to break up the team regardless of the outcome of the season and that gave him a lot of extra motivation. So, Jordan scored 2,357 points on 46% from the floor to overcome a slow start of the season. They won 62 games before beating the Nets and Hornets in the playoffs. The Pacers took them to 7 games but lacked the experience to finish the job, so Jordan and the Bulls had the chance to knock down the Jazz in the Finals again. Michael retired for the second time after that season with 10 scoring titles in 12 years and 6 rings in 8 seasons. Talking about dominance.
1998-99 – Allen Iverson (26.8 PPG)
Allen Iverson had already introduced himself to the world as one of the most talented players to ever live. He took a major step forward in the 1998-99 shortened season when he scored 1,284 points on 42% shooting and led the league with 41.5 minutes per game. The Philadelphia 76ers won 28 games and beat the Orlando Magic in the first round but later fell to the Pacers.
1999-00 – Shaquille O’Neal (29.7)
Shaquille O’Neal was the best player in the world during the 1999-00 season. He was just unstoppable on both ends of the floor and was determined to finally win an NBA Championship. He scored 2,344 points on 57% from the floor and his Lakers won 67 games. They beat the Kings, Suns, and Blazers in the playoffs before taking down the Indiana Pacers in the Finals.
2000-01 – Allen Iverson (31.1 PPG)
Allen Iverson was on a mission during the 2000-01 season. He had set his mind on taking the Philadelphia 76ers back to the NBA Finals and scored 2,207 points on 42/32/81 shooting splits. He led this team to a 56-win season despite not having much of a supporting cast. Then, he took down the Pacers, Raptors, and Bucks in the East and was the only person capable of beating the Lakers at least once in the playoffs. Sadly, he still lost to Shaq and Kobe in the Finals.
2001-02 – Allen Iverson (31.4 PPG)
Iverson was fresh off that heartbreaking loss in the playoffs but didn’t take his feet off the gas next season. He scored 1,883 points, although his efficiency significantly dropped to 39/29/81 shooting splits. The Philadelphia 76ers weren’t able to build on the prior season’s success and only won 43 regular-season contests before falling at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.
2002-03 – Tracy McGrady (32.1 PPG)
Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant were fighting toe-to-toe as the most unstoppable scorers in the world during the early ’00s. And even though Kobe ended up scoring more points, T-Mac had the highest points-per-game average. Back in 2003, he scored 2,407 total points on 45/38/79 shooting. He led the Magic to 42 wins but then lost to the Pistons in the first round.
2003-04 – Tracy McGrady (28.0 PPG)
McGrady picked up things right where he left them the prior year and averaged a whopping 28.0 points per game in 2003-04. He scored 1,878 points but his efficiency dropped to 41/33/79 shooting splits. The Magic was one of the biggest disappointments of the season as they were only able to win 21 games and finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
2004-05 – Allen Iverson (30.7 PPG)
Allen Iversoon took a two-year hiatus from being the league’s most dominant scorer but he was far from washed. He was as determined to lead the Sixers to success as always and scored 2,302 points (30.7 ppg) on 42/30/82 shooting splits. The Sixers won 43 regular-season games but once again underperformed in the postseason, as they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the first round.
2005-06 – Kobe Bryant (35.4 PPG)
Kobe Bryant was determined to prove that he didn’t need Shaquille O’Neal by his side to dominate. He led the league in total points for the second time on his career, scoring 2,832 points on 45/34/85 shooting splits. The Lakers won 45 games under Phil Jackson’s command that year but fell in seven games to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. He scored a career-high 81 points that year.
2006-07 – Kobe Bryant (31.6 PPG)
Kobe Bryant continued his pursuit of glory in the upcoming campaign. He didn’t miss a beat and scored an NBA-high 2,430 points (31.6 PPG) on 46/34/86 shooting splits and had some of the most impressive scoring stretches of his career. The Lakers won 42 games and barely made the playoffs, just to lose in the first round to the Phoenix Suns again.
2007-08 – LeBron James (30.0 PPG)
LeBron James had already proved that he was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent during the first couple of seasons of his career. However, it wasn’t until the 2007-08 season that he was able to top the 30+ ppg mark, scoring 2,250 points on 48/31/71 shooting splits. The Cavaliers won 45 games and beat the Wizards in the first round but then fell to the Celtics.
2008-09 – Dwyane Wade (30.2 PPG)
Prime Dwyane Wade was just unstoppable. He was on a mission back in 2009 and scored a career-high 2,386 points on 49% from the floor that season. He also had his second-best three-point shooting season (31%) while leading the Miami Heat to a 43-win campaign. Sadly, their season was cut short as they lost in 7 games to the Hawks in the first round.
2009-10 – Kevin Durant (30.1 PPG)
Kevin Durant became the league’s youngest scoring champion ever at just 21 years old. He led the league with 2,472 points n 47% shooting in just his third season. That’s how good and talented he is. Durant led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 50-win season. Sadly, they were young and inexperienced and they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Lakers.
2010-11 – Kevin Durant (27.7 PPG)
Durant kept improving on every aspect of his game next season. He came back stronger and scored a whopping 2,161 points on 46/35/88 shooting splits. Fueled by his offense, the Thunder won 55 games that year and beat the Nuggets and Grizzlies in the playoffs but couldn’t get past Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.
2011-12 – Kevin Durant (28.0 PPG)
Durant already had plenty of playoffs experience but wanted to make his first Finals appearance. He made the most of the shortened season by scoring 1,850 points on 49/38/86 shooting splits. The Thunder won 47 of their 66 regular-season games, then beat the Mavericks, Lakers, and Spurs in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they faced LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in the Finals and lost in 5 games.
2012-13 – Carmelo Anthony (28.7 PPG)
Carmelo Anthony is known as one of the most dominant scorers of all time. However, it wasn’t until his 10th year in the league that he was finally able to win the Scoring title. He scored 1,912 points on 44/37/83 shooting splits and was a legit MVP candidate. Melo led the Knicks to a 54-win season, they beat the Celtics in the first round but lost to the Pacers in the second.
2013-14 – Kevin Durant (32.0 PPG)
Kevin Durant was the best player in the world during the 2013-14 season and by a long stretch. He was the league’s MVP and Scoring champion after knocking down 2,593 points on 50/39/87 shooting splits one year after joining the 50/40/90 club. The Thunder won 59 games and beat the Grizzlies and Clippers in the playoffs but couldn’t get past the Spurs in the WCF.
2014-15 – Russell Westbrook (28.1 PPG)
Kevin Durant’s 2014-15 season was cut short due to injury so Russell Westbrook took it on to him to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs. He scored 1,886 points on 42% shooting and led his team to a 45-37 regular season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to take them to the playoffs.
2015-16 – Stephen Curry (30.1 PPG)
Stephen Curry was determined to prove his doubters wrong. His haters claimed he was the most overrated MVP ever, so he led the league in scoring (30.1 PPG) and steals (2.1). Curry scored 2,375 points on 50/45/90 shooting while knocking down a career-high 5.1 three-pointers per game. The Warriors broke the record for most regular-season wins with 73 and beat the Rockets, Blazers, and Thunder in the playoffs. Sadly, they couldn’t cap off their perfect season as they blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2016-17 – Russell Westbrook (31.6 PPG)
Kevin Durant had just decided to join the 73-win Golden State Warriors. Westbrook extended his contract with the Thunder and clearly played with a chip on his shoulder all year long. He became the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a full season and broke the record for most triple-doubles (42) in a season. He won the MVP and the Scoring title after scoring 2,558 points on 42% shooting. The Thunder won 45 games but lost in the first round to the Rockets.
2017-18 – James Harden (30.4 PPG)
James Harden quickly became the most unstoppable scorer in the world. His crafty moves are borderline travels but he continues to bend the rules in his favor. Back in 2018, he scored 2,191 points on 44/36/85 shooting. He led the Houston Rockets to a 65-win season and was named the league’s MVP. They beat the Timberwolves and Jazz but fell to the Golden State Warriors in the WCF.
2018-19 – James Harden (36.1 PPG)
James Harden put together the most impressive offensive season in NBA history since Michael Jordan in 2019. He scored at least 30 points in 32 straight games and scored 2,818 points on 44/36/87 shooting splits. The Rockets won 53 games and beat the Jazz in the first round but once again lost to Stephen Curry and the Warriors in the second round.