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20 Players With The Most MVP Points In NBA History: LeBron James Is No. 1 And It's Not Even Close

20 Players With The Most MVP Points In NBA History: LeBron James Is No. 1 And It's Not Even Close

In 1956, the NBA crowned the first-ever Most Valuable Player. Since then, fans and media have debated over what makes a player the most valuable. The basketball statistical world has evolved with analytics like player efficiency ratings, win shares, box plus/minus, and other ratings that have helped voters make more educated decisions when they vote.

From 1956 to the 1979-80 season, the players made up the voting bloc. In the 60s, Bill Russell won five MVPs, while Wilt Chamberlain earned four. With that said, their overall MVP points are down compared to their peers because the system was revamped in 1981. Voting power was given back to the media. Voters ranked five candidates. First place netted 10 points, second place was seven, third place was five, fourth place was three, and fifth place was one. The most points earned the MVP Award.

This system was different from the last system in the league’s early days, where voters ranked three players with point totals allocated to five, three, and one. While the debate of who deserves MVP is a continuous carousel in its own right, the distribution of points could be another talked about topic. Despite Russell winning five MVPs, his overall point total does not make the top-20 players on this list.

Some of the all-time greats did make the list, which is a true testament to their abilities. When counting the MVP points, these are the 20 players that own the most.

20. Chris Paul - 2,205 MVP Points

Chris Paul

Paul has made the MVP ballot 11 times in his career. That includes these last few seasons despite entering the later stages of his career. He has never won the award, but finished second in 2008, third in 2012, and third in 2013.

In the last three years, he has finished ninth, fifth, and seventh in that order. The highest number of points he received was 894 points for his second-place finish when he played in New Orleans. Since then, has made the cut towards the back end of the vote for the last three seasons.

19. Wilt Chamberlain - 2,274 MVP Points

Wilt Chamberlain

Chamberlain is a victim of the old style of voting. However, unlike his adversary, Russell, he made the top-10. Chamberlain won the MVP Award in 1960 and then three straight seasons from 1966 to 1968.

He also finished runner-up in 1962 and 1964, as well as third in 1972. Among 11 seasons of being voted, he made the top-5 in 10 of those seasons. Had the points been doubled, he would have made a run for the top-5.

18. Dirk Nowitzki - 2,296 MVP Points

Dirk Nowitzki

Nowitzki finished with a career-best of 1,138 points when he won the MVP in 2007. He also finished third in the voting in 2005 and 2006. From 2002 to 2012, his name was on the ballot every season. With that said, he made the top-3 only three times.

While he was hovering around 7th to 12th place during the 2000s, the accumulation of points added up to help him make the top-20. Nowitzki helped the Mavericks win an abundance of games during his streaks. That included leading the team to the Finals in 2006 and the championship in 2011.

17. Hakeem Olajuwon - 2,539 MVP Points

Hakeem Olajuwon

Olajuwon made the MVP vote 13 times, which ranks top-10 in the all-time vote rankings in the NBA. With that said, he finished seventh four times, and 12th or lower three other times. He won the MVP Award in 1994 to secure 889 points.

He also finished second the year before with 647 points. His consistency in being a superstar in the 1990s allowed him to make it into these rankings. Had a few certain superstars not been around in the 90s, he might have won a few more MVPs.

16. Giannis Antetokounmpo - 2,928 MVP Points

Giannis Antetokounmpo

For a newbie, Antetokounmpo has made a run at nearly cracking the top-15. Antetokounmpo is going to reach a higher point on the list given that he remains in his prime. He could finish as high as Tim Duncan by the time he is done.

For Giannis, his best stretch came in 2019 and 2020, where he won the MVP two straight years. He compiled 941 and 962 points in that stretch. He is coming off a season where he was third in the MVP voting with 595 points. He is going to be on the rise for years to come.

15. Steve Nash - 3,083 MVP Points

Steve Nash

During the 2000s, Nash might have been the best point guard of the decade. Nash won back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and 2006. That helped him net 1,066 and 924 points. Then, in 2007, he finished runner-up to Nowitzki in the MVP voting, but still secured 1,013 points.

Those three years of dominance were critical, making up for the other years where he finished with few MVP points. The Suns were one of the best offensive teams during those years. That all started with Nash leading the way.

14. David Robinson - 3,203 MVP Points

David Robinson

Robinson is currently 20th with 10 MVP voting recognitions but snuck into the top-15 points. When people voted for Robinson, it was because he was doing some serious work. The Spurs were a consistent threat in the 90s, as well as the early 2000s with Robinson on the team.

Of his 10 appearances, he finished in the top-3 five of those times. That included winning the MVP in 1995, finishing runner-up in 1994 and 1996, and third in 1991 and 1992. For winning the MVP in 1995, he finished with 901 MVP points.

13. Stephen Curry - 3,266 MVP Points

Stephen Curry

Curry is the only man to be voted unanimously MVP. The maximum amount of points that a player can get is 1,310. When the Warriors won 73 games in 2016, Curry’s performance that season was rewarded. Curry also won the MVP in 2015 with 1,198 points.

For the last five years, Curry has hung around the top-10 in points which has helped pad his overall total. With that said, Curry is playing in his sixth NBA Finals since 2016, which is something he likely cares more about, anyway.

12. Kevin Garnett - 3,368 MVP Points

Kevin Garnett

From 1999 to 2004, Garnett was a frequent mention on the MVP ballot. That included winning the MVP in 2004 with 1,219 points. He also finished runner-up in 2000 and 2003, which helped him get 408 and 871 points, respectively. Garnett received 670 points for his third-place finish in 2008 when he played for the Celtics.

Since Garnett left the Timberwolves, the team has not been the same. Not only did Garnett keep the team relevant, but he also had the team mentioned in the MVP conversation. There was a reason he remains the greatest player in team history.

11. James Harden - 3,925 MVP Points

James Harden

From 2015 to 2020, Harden racked up some serious points. Harden finished runner-up in the voting in 2015, 2017, and 2019. He won the award in 2018 while finishing third in 2020. When he won the award, he finished with 965 points.

During that stretch, the Rockets never made the NBA Finals, but Harden kept the team in the national spotlight for his efforts on the court. The team was close to making the Finals a handful of years, but like other players on this list, there was one major superstar in their way. This is the one time that Harden was able to push past his adversary in Curry.

10. Kevin Durant - 3,926 MVP Points

Kevin Durant

Yes, you read that right. Durant owns one more point than Harden in the MVP rankings. If both could stay healthy, it will be interesting to see where this goes next year. Some thought Durant was good enough to win the MVP this year, but his injuries kept him out of the spotlight.

When he was healthy, he secured a run of MVP points that included 609, 190, 889, 765, and 1,232 from 2010 to 2014, which included winning the MVP in 2014. Since leaving the Thunder, Durant has flirted with some points, but it was nothing compared to his days in OKC.

9. Magic Johnson - 4,190 MVP Points

Magic Johnson

Nine players have reached at least 4,000 MVP points in their careers. Johnson luckily took advantage of the new brand of voting. Johnson won the MVP in 1987, 1989, and 1990. He finished runner-up in 1985 and 1991, as well as third in 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1988.

That means that Johnson finished in the top-3 in every year in the 80s in all but two seasons. The highest total of points Johnson received was 733. The total was likely lower because of who he was playing with and against during this era.

8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 4,212 MVP Points

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In a way, Abdul-Jabbar was shafted of points and should be higher. Abdul-Jabbar won the MVP Award in 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1980. The new brand of voting didn’t go into effect until 1981. Had the new voting system worked, those MVP wins would have added up.

Abdul-Jabbar made the MVP ballot 17 times, which is the second-most in NBA history. He probably would be as high as second on this list if some of these numbers had doubled. Who knows how high he could have gone?

7. Larry Bird - 4,268 MVP Points

Larry Bird

Just to put it into the perspective of how Abdul-Jabbar was shafted, Bird had the full advantage of the new brand of points and only beat his former Laker rival by 56 points after his career’s end. Of the 12 seasons that Bird made the MVP ballot, he made the top-3 eight times.

That included a stretch of 652, 763, and 765 points when he won three straight MVP Awards from 1984 to 1986. He also finished runner-up three straight seasons from 1981 to 1983, as well as once in 1988.

6. Karl Malone - 4,651 MVP Points

Karl Malone

Malone made the MVP ballot 15 times in his career, which ranks fourth-best among players. He won the award in 1997 and 1999. He also finished runner-up in 1998. That stretch secured him 986, 842, and 827 points respectively.

Malone made the top-5 in voting nine times. During the 90s, he often batted Michael Jordan and other greats for points, so to finish as high as he did cemented another reason why he was one of the greatest players of all time.

5. Kobe Bryant - 5,185 MVP Points

Kobe Bryant

Five players have at least 5,000 career MVP points in their career. During the 2000s, Bryant displayed a great stretch of culminating points. Even while playing alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant made the voting frequently.

When Shaq left, Bryant’s totals went up, which included winning 1,100 points when he won the MVP Award in 2008. There were seven times that Bryant had at least 400 points or more. After a while, that adds up, which is why Bryant made the top-5.

4. Shaquille O’Neal - 5,214 MVP Points

Shaquille O’Neal

Two members of the Lakers dynasty in the early 2000s made the top-5 for MVP points. If you include Kareem and Magic, four of the players in the top-10 are from Laker teams. As for O’Neal, he won the MVP Award in 2000 with 1,207 points.

He finished with over 1,000 points again when he left the Lakers and finished second in the voting in 2005. He also was runner-up in 1995 with the Magic, while claiming third in 2001 and 2002 during the three-peat years. Two years of getting at least 1,000 points helps, but O’Neal also had at least 500 points three other times.

3. Tim Duncan - 5,238 MVP Points

Tim Duncan

Duncan made the MVP ballot 16 times, which is the third-highest among NBA players. He won the MVP in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003, which netted him 954 and 962 points. He also was runner-up in 2001 and 2004.

That stretch of four seasons helped Duncan net over 3,200 MVP points. If you combine the rest of his appearances, he was just able to beat out O’Neal by 24 points. The two big men had plenty of battles over the years, with Duncan earning one more championship in his career than Shaq. It’s fitting he narrowly beat him here as well.

2. Michael Jordan - 7,956.8 MVP Points

Michael Jordan 1998

Despite missing out on the 1993-94 season, most of the 1994-95 season, and retiring a second time to miss time after 1998, Jordan owns the second-most MVP points. Jordan won five MVPs in his career, but that doesn’t do him justice.

During the 90s, Jordan accumulated 891, 900, and 565 points from 1991 to 1993. Then, he accumulated 1,114, 957, and 1,084 points from 1996 to 1998. Overall, he made the top-3 in MVP voting 10 times out of the 13 times he was recognized on the ballot.

1. LeBron James - 10,494 MVP Points

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There is only one player that has surpassed the 10K mark in MVP points. That would be LeBron James. Since 2003, James has made the MVP ballot 19 times, which ranks the most in NBA history. He owns 14 top-5 finishes, 12 top-3 finishes, four appearances as the runner-up, and four MVPs that he won in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013.

When it comes to points, James finished with over 1,000 points each time he won the MVP, which includes 1,172, 1,205, 1,074, and 1,207 points for each of his wins. With a few years left in the league, he has a few more chances to pad this record, one that may never be broken. 


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