Scoring 70 points in an NBA game is a legendary feat. It has been one by only six players in the NBA’s 75-plus year history. The fact that these players were able to score 70 points in a game is special. Among those players include, David Thompson reached 73 points in 1978, while both Elgin Baylor and David Robinson reached 71 points in 1960 and 1994, respectively. Only one other “big man” has reached this legendary status, and that was Wilt Chamberlain.
Chamberlain reached at least 70 points six times. Chamberlain reached totals of 70, 72, 73 (twice), 78, and the NBA’s record of 100 points. Chamberlain’s record of 100 points against the Knicks in 1962 will likely never be broken. It’s officially been 60 years since that night that Chamberlain scored the most points in an NBA game. Kobe Bryant owns the second-most points in a game with 81 points in 2006. At the time, everyone thought he might have potentially topped Chamberlain’s record against the Raptors.
The last player to reach 70 points was Devin Booker, in 2017. At the time, it had been 11 years since a player had reached the 70-point mark. Now that we are entering a nearly six-year drought, the question of whether it will happen again remains up in the air. The easy answer is that it will happen again, but the harder part is determining who will be the most likely player to score 70 points next. We take a look at that now, as 10 players seem like candidates to reach that mark.
These are the most likely players to score 70 points next.
With the number of shots that Young takes in a game, there is plenty of reason to believe that Young can get to 70 points. Young has reached 50 or more points two times in his career. The first time he reached 50 points was in 2020 against the Heat. Last year, he set his career-high in points with 56 in a 136-131 loss to the Trail Blazers. Neither game went to overtime.
In his 56-point night, Young shot 17 of 26 from the field, 7 of 12 from three-point range, and 15 of 15 from the free throw line. That is a highly efficient night. He will need another night like that, but will need a handful more shots. Young owns a career-high average of 18.6 attempts per game, including a career-high 22.3 shots this season. Another night of 30 shots and at least 20 to 22 shots made could put him in the conversation.
It’s been a few years since Lillard was this hot from the field. During the 2019-20 season, Lillard recorded three games of 60 or more points. That included a 60-point night against the Nets and two instances of 61 points. That included 61 points against the Warriors and Mavericks, with the game against the Warriors going into overtime.
Lillard has reached at least 50 points 14 times. The last time he reached 50 points was during the 2020-21 season. While Lillard is coming off a season that saw him injured, he appears healthy this year with 26.3 points per game in 11 contests. If there is a player that could hit 15 three-point shots in a game, it’s Lillard.
This all comes down to focus. When Irving is focused on basketball, the world is his oyster. Last year, Irving set the franchise record for points in a game with 60 against the Magic. In the game, Irving shot 20 of 31 from the field, 8 of 12 from three-point range, and 12 of 13 from the free-throw line. Even Kevin Durant knew that Irving was hot because he took only six shots in the game.
Irving has reached 50 or more points six times in his career. Four of those times came while he was playing with Brooklyn. If Irving isn’t in the news for the vaccine, beef with Steve Nash, or making controversial comments that get him suspended, he has the talent to do it. However, it all comes down to how focused he wants to be and if he truly wants to make a run at it.
Last year, Durant reached 53 and 55 points with the Nets. Durant needs to get to the 60-point threshold before we start talking about Durant getting to 70 points. With that said, the way the Nets are playing this season, it could be soon that we see Durant start chucking up shorts for his game. If the Nets blow this up by trading Irving away, then Durant is going to be on an island by himself offensively.
When Durant scored 55 points, he shot 19 of 28 shots, made 8 of 10 three-point field goals, and was 9 of 11 at the free throw line. In that game, Irving shot the ball 32 times and scored 31 points. Take a few shots away from Irving, there are about 15 points on the table.
We briefly talked about how Lillard could make 15 three-pointers in a game, but the player that definitely can make that happen is Curry. It was not that long ago that Curry reached 62 points in a game. When Curry won the scoring title during the 2020-21 season, Curry scored 62 and 57 points in a season. Curry is contending for a scoring title as we speak, so could he break past the mold and reach 70 points this year?
The way the Warriors look right now, the team is heavily relying on Curry once again. When Curry scored 62 points, Klay Thompson was not playing, and Draymond Green missed both of his shot attempts. Curry was 18 of 31 from the field, 8 of 16 from three-point range, and 18 of 19 from the free throw line. That’s a lot of points that Curry left on the table. He could easily have another game like this in the future.
Since 1994, the players to reach 70 points in a game are Kobe Bryant and Devin Booker. That means that we are pushing 30 years since a “big man” scored 70 points in a game. With the league transitioning to a three-point shooter. The idea of pounding the ball inside would take a ton of shots and wear and tear. Realistically, a center would need to make most of his free throws and at least 25 shots in a game.
If there is a big man that could get 70 points, it’s Antetokounmpo. He is the best finisher around the rim. Antetokounmpo makes 58.1% of his career two-point field goals. Last year, he made 61.6% of those shots. Last year, Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in a game against the Pacers. His career high of 52 points game in 2019, where he shot 15 of 26 from the field, 3 of 8 from three-point range, and 19 of 21 at the line. What makes Antetokounmpo different is that he can make a few outside shots. If he can make a few more shots inside, he could become the first big man since David Robinson to reach 70 points.
Joining Antetokounmpo in the mix is Embiid. We have already seen him make a run at 60 points this season. On November 13, Embiid set a new career high by nine points by scoring 59 points against the Jazz. Embiid shot 19 of 28 from the field, 1 of 5 from three-point range, and 20 of 24 from the free-throw line. He also added 11 rebounds, eight assists, and seven blocks.
The main difference between Embiid and Antetokounmpo is that Embiid has the better outside shot. Antetokounmpo owns a career outside shooting percentage of around 28%, while Embiid is shooting 33.5% from three-point range. That included shooting 37.1% from outside last year. If Embiid can be as efficient in his 59-point game and add a few more three-pointers, then we are talking about a mix of offensive skills that could get to 70 points.
With how explosive Morant plays, anything is possible. Realistically, Morant is a solid three-point shot away from getting to 70 points. Anybody can get hot, but with his youth, energy, and athleticism, Morant can make it happen. Last year, Morant set a franchise record for the Grizzlies with 52 points in a game.
Morant shot 22 of 30 from the field and made all four of his three-point attempts. Morant also made 4 of 7 free throw attempts. If Morant can shoot a few more outside shots, he has a legitimate shot at getting to 70 points. What’s even more incredible is that Morant should have likely made 60 points in this game but shot just seven free throw attempts. There are quite a few variables involved, but Morant is the next-best up-and-coming star in the league. He has all of the tools to make this happen.
It took an overtime high-scoring affair for Tatum to get 60 points, but it still happened. Tatum scored 60 points in a 143-140 overtime win over the Spurs in 2021. That game featured Tatum shooting 20 of 37 from the field, 5 of 7 from three-point range, and 15 of 17 at the free-throw line. Imagine a world where Tatum was 25 of 37 from the field. That’s a more respectable shooting percentage, and that’s the 10 points missing to get to 70.
Tatum has reached 50 points six times in his career, and all of those times have come from the last two seasons. Now that he has reached 60 points, he knows he can do more, especially if he is more efficient from the field. We are watching Tatum in his prime, and he is an MVP candidate when he is at his best. The next overtime game Tatum plays, it might be worth switching the channel to the Celtics.
Last year, we saw the rise of Doncic, which included a run to the Western Conference Finals. It feels like any given night, Doncic could go off. His career high of 51 points was reached in February 2022. One week later, Doncic scored 49 points to nearly make the 50-point mark once again. While Doncic has reached the 50-point mark just once, he is one of the faces of the league. When he reached the Conference Finals, he was drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan for his offense. Jordan never reached 70 points, as he reached 69 points once. If there are true parallels, Doncic could be in the same conversation.
When Doncic scored 51 points, he shot 17 of 26 from the field, 7 of 14 from three-point range, and 10 of 14 from the free-throw line. He also added nine rebounds and six assists. Doncic does so much, but potentially, he has a game where he is not being asked to score, rebound, and make plays. If he was given the chance to just score, Doncic’s offensive game is as good as anyone and reaching 70 points could happen as soon as this season.
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