Over the past 5 seasons of NBA basketball, 10 players have emerged as the best scorers in the game. These players are the ones who go out there every single night and leave it all on the court. They all have one thing in common: they flat-out know how to get buckets. Some specialize in scoring from the perimeter, while others dominate the paint. Then there is the rare group of exceptional three-level scorers who get their points from anywhere they want on the floor. These are the players who can be counted on most when their team needs them to put the ball in the basket by any means necessary.
Some of the players on our list today should not be a surprise to even the casual NBA fan. Players like James Harden and LeBron James have dominated headlines with their innate scoring ability. Then there are the newcomers. These players have only recently begun to hit their stride as scorers at the highest level of NBA basketball. Whether new school or old school, no others have been better at scoring consistently than the players listed below.
These are the 10 players with the most points per game over the last 5 NBA seasons.
10. Devin Booker - 26.1 PPG
Devin Booker is one of the players that has stormed onto the scene in the last 5 years as one of the best scorers in basketball. He is a true three-level threat that can knock down shots from anywhere with high efficiency. His best ways to score are in a transition or fast break offense and in isolation. You know Booker has got it going when he is driving left and pulling up for a mid-range jumper. His mid-range game has been his bread and butter for the past few seasons, shooting 46.4% for his career from 10 to 16 feet. He also finishes at the rim at 65.4% for his career and 44.8% from 3 to 10 feet as well.
In the 2016-17 season, Booker averaged 22.1 PPG in 78 games played on 42.3% shooting. It has only gotten better from there. Over the past 4 seasons, Booker has averaged 26.4 PPG on 47.6% shooting overall and 35.2% from three-point range. He has averaged over 26.0 PPG 3 times and has not dipped below 46.0% shooting at all. He has kept the same pace in the postseason as well, averaging 26.1 PPG in 32 playoff games played. In the 2021-22 season, Booker attempted the second-most threes of his career with 7.0 attempts per game. He connected at 38.3% from three, tying a career-high. If Booker continues to score at the rate he has been since 2017, look for him to make his way up this list rapidly.
9. Luka Doncic - 26.4 PPG
Since being drafted in 2018, Luka Doncic has become one of the most exciting players to watch over the past 4 years. He has become one of the very best scorers at the point guard position in the entire NBA. He claimed the Rookie of the Year award in 2018-19 averaging 21.2 PPG and has elevated that part of his game ever since. Just this past season, Doncic had already entered the Top 10 in career points for the Dallas Mavericks franchise sitting at 8th with 6,962 points. To do that in just 4 seasons is remarkable, and he is well on track to catch Dirk Nowitzki as the team’s all-time leader.
After a torrid start to his NBA career, Doncic has already earned 3 All-NBA First Team Selections and 3 Top 6 finishes in MVP voting. In just his second year, Doncic averaged a career-high 28.8 PPG on 46.3% shooting overall. He nearly matched that again in 2021-22 with 28.4 PPG on 45.7% shooting. His efficiency has been called into question many times, but what do you expect from someone who has to carry the scoring load such as Luka has since coming into the league? His scoring is even more relentless in the playoffs. As it stands right now, he is second (behind Michael Jordan) on the all-time PPG list in the playoffs, with 32.5 PPG in 28 contests. Doncic is on a path to go down as one of the game’s greatest scorers.
8. Bradley Beal - 26.5 PPG
Bradley Beal is one of the very best scorers in basketball. The only reasons you wouldn’t agree is that you either look too much at his team’s lack of success or you don’t watch enough Wizards basketball. During his earlier years, Beal performed well next to John Wall as an off-ball shooter. Now, Beal has expanded his scoring arsenal as Washington has become his own team. He no longer depends on the three-point shot to define his scoring night as he has become a downhill scorer in the paint and an amazing off-dribble drive scorer.
Over the past 5 seasons, Beal has averaged his 26.5 PPG on 46.7% shooting overall and 35.2% from three. We have seen his three-point percentage drop to as low as 30.0% in 2021-22, even though he only played 40 games. Yet, Beal has earned the only 3 All-Star appearances of his career during this time and is now finishing at the basket at a 68.6% rate. In 2020 and 2021, Beal posted back-to-back seasons of 30.0 PPG or more for the only times in his career. His TS% has skyrocketed from early on in his career and he is now more of a threat from all three levels rather than solely the perimeter. The only question about Beal’s scoring is how long he can keep it up, but other than injuries, he has shown no signs of slowing down.
7. Joel Embiid - 26.6 PPG
Over the past 5 seasons, Joel Embiid has established himself as one of the elite scoring bigs in the NBA. Embiid has taken a cerebral approach to scoring, and it has paid off mightily. With his back to the basket, and just outside of the paint is where he has proven to be most dangerous. He has developed a beautiful medium to mid-range jumper that has opened up more efficient opportunities at the rim. With defenders having to respect his jumper more, Embiid can use more fakes, jab-steps, and his big frame to create scoring drives to the hoop or get himself to the foul line, which he does at a high rate.
In 2021-22, Embiid became the first Sixers player to win a scoring title since Allen Iverson in 2004-05. With his 30.6 PPG, Embiid also became the first center to win a scoring title since Shaq in 2000. During the season, Embiid took a career-high 11.8 FTA per game and had the second-highest TS% of his career at 61.6%. Since the 2017-18 season, Embiid has only dipped below 23.0 PPG once while eclipsing 25.0 PPG 3 times. Expect Embiid to continue to rack up his point total as he remains the focal point of the Sixers' offense and one of the very best at his position in basketball.
T6. LeBron James - 27.1 PPG
Over the past 20 years, LeBron James has been one of the most consistent scorers in NBA history. He has only averaged under 25.0 PPG once, which came all the way back in his rookie season with the Cavaliers in 2003-04. Over time, James has evolved his game on offense to remain one of the game’s top scorers. In his earlier years, James was much more explosive when driving to the basket and lethal on fast breaks. While he still has a lot of that explosiveness, James has drifted to the perimeter much more often, shooting more threes per game over the last 5 years than he ever has, resulting in fewer trips to the foul line.
Despite the change in his game, LeBron has remained an incredible scorer. He is still one of the best finishers at the rim in the league, shooting 76.3% from 0 to 3 feet. He is a 40.1% shooter from 3 to 10 feet and a 39.1% shooter from 10 to 16 feet. Even at 37 years old, James nearly won a scoring title in 2021-22 with 30.3 PPG. It was the 3rd time in his career that he eclipsed 30.0 PPG. As we head into 2022-23, LeBron is set to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time career points record, speaking volumes about his consistency and ability as a scorer.
T6. Kevin Durant - 27.1 PPG
Often considered one of the best scorers to ever pick up a basketball, Kevin Durant’s place on this list should surprise no one. Durant is the epitome of what a true three-level threat looks like and when you add in his size and shooting ability, it is beyond scary. Standing at 7 feet tall, Durant has the natural ability to rise up over defenders for easy shots from anywhere on the court, but he especially thrives from the mid-range. His ability to finish at the basket has been great too, matching LeBron with a 76.3% from 0 to 3 feet while shooting 52.1% overall and 39.5% from three over the past 5 seasons.
The past 5 seasons have been tumultuous for Durant but he has never stopped producing. In his final 2 seasons with the Warriors, Durant averaged 26.2 PPG and shot 51.9% from the field. He then missed an entire year with a torn Achilles tendon while leaving Golden State to join the Brooklyn Nets. When he returned to action, it was like he never left. Over the past 2 seasons with Brooklyn, he has averaged 28.7 PPG on 52.5% shooting overall and 40.9% from three on 5.4 attempts per game. If we know anything about Durant, it is that he is going to get his buckets in any situation for any squad he suits up for. It is just what he has done his entire career.
4. Damian Lillard - 27.4 PPG
It may shock some that Damian Lillard comes in so high on this list, but it honestly shouldn’t. Lillard has proven to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA but also one of the best overall three-point shooters. Lillard has taken on the role of a franchise player for the Portland Trail Blazers and with it has come the responsibility to get the win by any means necessary. Do not give Lillard an inch of space because if you do, he is going to let it fly, and being as efficient as he is from deep, he has got the green light every time.
Even when we include a 2021-22 season that saw Lillard miss significant time with an injury, he still comes in as one of the best scorers in the NBA. He has connected on 37.5% of his three-pointers during this time, which includes multiple seasons of attempting 10.0 or more threes per game and hitting them at 40.0%. Lillard has surpassed 25.5 PPG in 4 out of the past 5 seasons while taking the Blazers to the playoffs 4 times as well. In 2020, he had his best scoring season yet, averaging 30.0 PPG on 46.3% overall shooting and 40.1% from three. It will be great to see Dame back on the floor in 2022-23 to see if he can keep up with his torrid scoring pace.
3. Stephen Curry - 27.7 PPG
Is anyone surprised that Stephen Curry is the 3rd best scorer of the last 5 years? I thought so. With his off-ball movement and title of the best three-point shooter in NBA history, Curry has become one of the game’s best at putting the ball in the basket. The most impressive part of Curry’s positioning on this list is that it includes the 2020 season that saw him play just 5 games at 20.8 PPG. This is what can happen when you are the impeccable high-volume, high-efficiency shooter and scorer that Stephen Curry has become.
Aside from that 2020 season, Curry has been toward the top of the league leaderboard in PPG every season. In 2021, Curry took home the second scoring title of his career, with 32.0 PPG on 42.1% shooting from three and 48.2% shooting overall. Curry had to do his very best to carry the Warriors that season without Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, which resulted in more shots going up from him. This past season, Curry averaged 25.5 PPG while leading the Warriors to their 4th NBA championship in the past 8 years. In the playoffs, he averaged 27.4 PPG on the whole, and in the Finals averaged 31.2 PPG. Can he keep up the pace and lead Golden State to No. 5 in 2023?
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo - 28.4 PPG
As we enter the 2022-23 season, there is a general consensus among NBA fans that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player in the game today. I won’t argue with anyone who feels that way because I feel the same. It amazes me how much we undervalue just how dominant Giannis has been in the paint and on fast breaks. He has become so much more than the run-and-dunk guy we labeled him as early on. He has worked on his post and mid-range game tremendously and it has paid off to the tune of 2 MVPs and Milwaukee’s first championship since 1971.
Giannis took home the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 2017 and from there, the scoring has exploded. He has put up 26.9 PPG or better for 5 seasons straight now and eclipsed 29.0 PPG twice. This includes a career-high 29.9 PPG in 2021-22 on 55.3% shooting. He continues to find different ways to score, improving on his jumper and other areas, but he never gives up on what works best. He has finished at the basket over 80.0% of the time over the last 2 seasons and continues to be the NBA’s best scoring threat from that range. If Giannis continues to maximize his potential and improve his scoring versatility, expect the Bucks to be serious contenders for the 2023 NBA championship.
1. James Harden - 30.1 PPG
There is no denying how great of a scorer James Harden has been the past 5 seasons and beyond. Whether you like his style or aren’t a fan, the numbers speak for themselves. Harden’s scoring is predicated on two different factors. The first is playing under control from the perimeter. When he remains patient and picks the right times to shoot or to drive to the hoop is when you know he is in a groove offensively. With his patented step-back jumper from three and ball-handling, Harden is a most dangerous scorer. The other is if he is in attack mode. Harden has no problem finishing drives at the basket for points, but he can fall victim to looking for the foul too often. When he isn’t foul hunting and instead looking to finish or pass it off, Harden is virtually unguardable.
While with the Rockets from 2018 through 2020, James Harden took home three straight scoring titles. In each of those seasons, he averaged 30.0 PPG or more on 44.0% shooting or better. He peaked scoring-wise in 2018-19 when he averaged a whopping 36.1 PPG in 78 games played. Since leaving Houston to join Brooklyn and Philadelphia, Harden’s scoring numbers have taken quite a dip to 23.1 PPG with those teams. This can be expected when you join other ball-dominant players who need the ball in their hands to operate. Harden may not be the scorer he once was, but his value proves to now be in his playmaking and passing. Can he bounce back in 2022-23?