Even though we know you can’t win an NBA Championship without defense, there’s nothing that drives up most fans other than a good shootout. Not necessarily from a team, but from one or two players going back-and-forth in human torch mode.
Every now and then, a player gets in a zone where it feels like he just can’t miss. He single-handedly puts his team in a position to compete and scores in ways just a few mortals have ever done, going for 60 or even more points in just one game.
More impressively, some of these incredible performances have come from young players that were just getting started in the league, giving a glimpse of what was to come. Today, we’ll honor them by letting you know about the youngest players to ever score 60+ in an NBA game.
10. Elgin Baylor – 64 Points
(25 Years, 53 Days)
We don’t talk enough about Elgin Baylor nowadays but there were plenty of reasons why he was considered the greatest small forward ever back in the day. The main one, as you may know by now, was his incredible scoring ability.
Baylor’s expertise was in full display when his beloved Minneapolis Lakers topped the Boston Celtics 136-115, as he scored 64 points by knocking down 25 of his 47 field goal attempts. Yeah, do the math, that’s almost one shot per minute.
9. Gilbert Arenas – 60 Points
(24 Years, 345 Days)
It’s sad to think about how great Gilbert Arenas could have been if he had stayed more focused on his basketball career. Back in the early-to-mid 2000s, there weren’t many players who could keep up with his frenetic pace and scoring ability.
Agent Zero was a walking bucket every single time he stood on the hardwood, as he proved by scoring a career-high 60 points on an exciting 147-141 win vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. Notably, he did a lot of his damage with Kobe Bryant on him.
8. Tracy McGrady – 62 Points
(24 Years, 291 Days)
Tracy McGrady’s career is one of the ultimate ‘What Ifs’ in NBA history. He was arguably the most unstoppable scorer in the world in his prime, and we’re talking about a guy who played at the same time as Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson.
Sadly, McGrady could never put the cherry on top of the sundae by winning an NBA Championship, but at least he can brag about blasting the Washington Wizards for 62 points. To make this even more impressive, his team scored 108 total points.
7. Wilt Chamberlain – 60 Points
(24 Years, 200 Days)
It’s not unusual to see Wilt Chamberlain making one of these lists, as he’s the ultimate record-man when it comes to basketball. He was so dominant that the NBA had to enforce several rule changes to prevent him from having such an edge but that never worked.
Back on December 1, 1961, Wilt Chamberlain had a performance for the ages, destroying the Los Angeles Lakers for 60 points when he still played for the Philadelphia Warriors. His team won 138-117 and he played all 48 minutes, knocking down 28 of his 48 field goal attempts.
6. Michael Jordan – 61 Points
(24 Years, 58 Days)
It didn’t take long before Michael Jordan proved that he was one of the most unique players to ever lace them up. He was a scoring machine that wasn’t going to be denied, and he had already put the world on notice with multiple scoring outbursts.
Jordan makes this list three times, which is a testament to how incredible he was since the very first day. In this opportunity, we’ll talk about the 61 points he scored on the Atlanta Hawks back in 1987. Sadly, the Chicago Bulls still lost 117-114.
5. Michael Jordan – 61 Points
(24 Years, 15 Days)
People talk a lot about how important Scottie Pippen was to the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan and for very good reasons. Pippen was their defensive anchor and played a vital role in all 6 NBA Championships. Then again, Jordan was the heart and soul of that team.
If you don’t take our word for it, just take a look at what he did in 1987, even before Pippen made it to the Association. A 24-year-old Jordan scored 61 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 125-120 win over the Detroit Pistons’ tough defense.
4. David Tompson – 73 Points
(23 Years, 270 Days)
Even though he may not be the most popular name you’ll find in this list, there was a time when David Thompson was actually one of basketball’s biggest entertainers. He was fast, savvy, athletic, and had an endless bag of tricks to send the ball through the hoop.
As a matter of fact, David Thompson is one of just six players to ever score 70+ points in an NBA game, even ahead of Michael Jordan himself. That happened when he torched the Detroit Pistons for 73 points, but it didn’t prevent his Denver Nuggets from losing 139-137.
3. Jerry West – 63 Points
(23 Years, 234 Days)
Jerry West is one of the most influential basketball players of all time and not only because of what he did in the hardwood. Then again, some people tend to leave him out of the conversation when we talk about the greatest players of all time.
Besides being a great defender, West was also a prolific scorer, as he proved by scoring 63 points on the New York Knicks back in 1962. West did all his damage in just 39 minutes, knocking down 22 of his 36 field goal attempts to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 129-121 win.
2. Michael Jordan – 63 Points
(23 Years, 62 Days)
Michael Jordan makes this list for the third and final time thanks to his first-ever 60+ point masterpiece. Jordan was playing in just his second playoff game and vs. Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, which were the team to beat in the Eastern Conference back then.
He introduced himself with a 63-point explosion that made Bird claim that ‘it was God disguised as Michael Jordan’. Sadly for him, it wasn’t enough to lead his subpar Chicago Bulls team to a win, as they dropped a 135-131 heartbreaking game at the TD Garden.
1. Devin Booker – 70 Points
(20 Years, 145 Days)
As most young fans must remember right now, Devin Booker holds the record for being the youngest player to ever score 70 points in an NBA game. Sadly for him, it came during a tough 130-120 loss to the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
Booker was simply unstoppable that day, scoring 51 points in the second half with a 28-point fourth quarter. He played 45 of the possible 48 minutes and knocked down 21 of his 40 field goal attempts including four three-pointers and 21 free-throws.