LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the last greatest scorers active in this generation. Perhaps, they could both go down as two of the greatest scorers in NBA history. For LeBron, his athleticism is unmatched when it comes to finishing in the lane. Durant has the range and some of the best post moves that translate to fade away jumpers.
Durant is currently having a season that features MVP-like numbers. If Durant had not been injured this season, we would have seen Durant challenge for the scoring title. When healthy, James and Durant are both lethal options to have at the end of games. That is why both are in the 20K career scorers club and two of the youngest to do so. Join us as we take a look at the other members who got to 20,000 career points with the least amount of games.
10. Kevin Durant – 737
Durant owns a career average of 27.2 points per game and has been a dominant scoring force since coming into the league with the Seattle Supersonics. At Rookie Challenge, he set a record with 46 points. During the 2009-2010 season, Durant averaged 30.3 points per game and became the youngest scoring champion in NBA history. During the 2012-2013 season, Durant finished the season averaging 28.1 points per game but failed to win the scoring title. With a 51% shooting rate, 41.6% shooting percentage from three, and a 90,5% from the free-throw line, Durant became the youngest player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club.
Durant has scored over 50 points seven times in his career, as well as many finishes with 40 or more points. Durant scored a career-high 54 points in a 127-121 win over the Golden State Warriors on January 17, 2014.
9. Shaquille O’Neal – 727
“The Big Diesel” was known for his big games, which once included a 61-point effort in a 123-120 win over the Los Angeles Clippers during the 1999-2000 season. Shaw ranks eighth all-time in points and sixth in field goals. Due to his ability to dunk the basketball and score from inside the paint, Shaq ranks third all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016.
All in all, there were very few teams that could stop a 7-foot-1 beast in the paint that weighed over 300 pounds. The three-time NBA Finals MVP once averaged 30.7 points per game in a playoff. Altogether, Shaq averaged over 30 points per game in the playoffs three times in his career. As a true center, Shaq led the NBA in scoring two times in his career.
8. LeBron James – 726
LeBron was able to squeeze past Shaq and need just one less game. Here’s the thing, we don’t really remember the scoring version of LeBron. Since LeBron joined the Cavaliers the second time and now the Lakers, he hasn’t needed to be the dominant scoring version of himself. He has evolved his game towards being a role player, including leading the league in assists last season. Once upon a time, there was a version of LeBron that filled the scoring sheet.
As a member of the Miami Heat, LeBron scored 61 points in a 124-104 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, while his second-most points were a 57-point outburst over the Washington Wizards in 2017. During LeBron’s early years in Cleveland, he scored 50 points seven times. LeBron didn’t have the likes of Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, or Anthony Davis during those years, so the team was literally carried by the weight of his shoulders.
7. Jerry West – 717
West was a 12-time All-NBA First and Second Team selection that holds the NBA record for highest points per game average in a playoff series with 46.3. West played in nine NBA Finals and the only player to be named a Finals MVP despite being on the losing team. His career-high was 63 points in a win over the New York Knicks during the 1961-1962 season.
Because of his ability to score in pressure situations, he once gathered the nickname “Mr. Clutch.” West is best known for his famous buzzer-beating 60-footer that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Knicks. West is used as the NBA logo, has been called “Mr. Outside, as well as “Zeke from Cabin Creek.” He is one of the few players to ever lead his college to an NCAA Championship game, earn a Final Four Most Outstanding Player Award, wins a gold medal in the Olympics, and be inducted in the Hall of Fame.
6. Allen Iverson – 713
When we think of Iverson, we think of the 2001 season right off the bat. Iverson led the league in scoring four times in his career but Iverson helped will the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals before falling to the Lakers. His 31.0 points per game that season is considered to be the most ever by a 6-foot-0 guard. It didn’t matter that Iverson was small on the court because his basketball skills were unmatched.
During the 2001 season, Iverson scored 50 or more points four times. Then in 2005, another scoring title year, he scored his career-high 60 points in a 112-99 win over the Orlando Magic. Inside, outside, Iverson was one of the most dangerous scoring guards the league has ever seen.
5. Elgin Baylor – 711
Elgin Baylor is one of six players to ever score 70 or more points in a game. Only one of those players made this list (more not than later). Devin Booker, David Thompson, David Robinson, and Kobe Bryant have all accomplished that feat but Baylor is the only one of that group of five that made it to 20,000 career points in 737 games or less. From 1959-1962, Baylor scored 50 or more points 17 times.
Baylor might have played during a different era but helped lead the Lakers to eight NBA Finals. He was a gifted shooter, strong rebound, and excellent passer. His jump shot was what wowed fans during the 1960s and he is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 684
It should be no surprise that the all-time scoring leader is on this list. Abdul-Jabbar started his career off by averaging 28.8, 31.7, and 34.8 points per game. Drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 1969, the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA championship during his age 24 seasons. His trademark “skyhook” shot established himself as one of the best to put the ball into the hoop.
He was later a key component of the “Showtime” era with the Lakers and won an additional five NBA championships. Over his 20 year career, his teams qualified for the playoffs 18 times, as well as 10 trips to the NBA Finals.
3. Oscar Robertson – 671
Until 2017, Robertson was the only player to ever average a triple-double during the regular season. To put it into perspective how great Robertson was at scoring, he averaged 30 or more points during the regular season six times in his first seven seasons. In his second year in the league with the Cincinnati Royals, Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.
In terms of scoring, he was a one-man show for the now-defunct Cincinnati franchise. Robertson was a key component paired with Abdul-Jabbar with the Bucks in 1971, helping Milwaukee win an NBA championship.
2. Michael Jordan – 620
There are only two legends to walk this Earth to score a flurry of points in a short window of time. Jordan averaged more than 30 points per game in seven of his first nine seasons. He averaged 30.1 points per game for the duration of his career. That included 37.1 points per game during the 1986-1987 season.
Jordan became the face of basketball during the late 80s and the entire 90s. He was known for making clutch shots and pulling teams back into contention by himself. When it is all said and done, Jordan remains the greatest player of all time.
1. Wilt Chamberlain – 499
Chamberlain didn’t even need 500 games. During the course of this stretch, Chamberlain at the bare minimum would have been averaging 40.0 points per game. The best part is that his numbers were technically better. During the 1961-1962 season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points and then followed that season by averaging 44.8 points per game. From 1959-1966, Chamberlain was averaging at least 30 points or more.
Chamberlain is the single-game record holder with 100 points in a game. We will likely never see that record broken, just like this record that he owns today.