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Magic Johnson's Stats For Each Season: The Greatest Point Guard In NBA History

Magic Johnson's Stats For Each Season: The Greatest Point Guard In NBA History

The greatest Los Angeles Laker in team history is a spirited debate. You have greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James all donning the uniform at one point, or in Bryant's case, his entire career. The same goes for Magic Johnson, who was everything in his name more when playing for the Lakers. He won five titles and gave Laker nation a fun ride during the 80s.

The Lakers and Celtics were the cream of the crop when it came to the best teams in the league during that decade. Without Johnson, Larry Bird probably matches Michael Jordan for championships. Instead, Johnson carved his name in NBA history for his efforts during his career in the league with the Lakers.

Here is Magic Johnson’s season by season for his career.

1979-80 NBA Season

Stats: 18.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 7.3 APG, 2.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Awards And Achievements: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, All-Star, All-Rookie Team

After being selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Lakers, Johnson had an immediate partner in crime with Abdul-Jabbar. At the time, Abdul-Jabbar was the league’s leading scorer. With Johnson in the fold, you had the best one-two punch in all of the NBA. Abdul-Jabbar had plenty of success on his own but was never able to secure a championship with him leading the way.

The Lakers compiled a 60-22 record in the regular season. The Lakers had a point guard in Norm Nixon, but head coach Jack McKinney decided to move Johnson to that position, which was huge for the team’s success. The Lakers rose to the NBA Finals, where they played the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers took a 3-2 series lead but were without Abdul-Jabbar for Game 6. Head coach Paul Westhead, who took over midyear, decided to play Johnson at the center, where he scored 42 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists in the series clincher.

1980-81 NBA Season

Stats: 21.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 8.6 APG, 3.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Awards And Achievements: Steals Leader

Fresh off a rookie season that saw him win Finals MVP, Johnson saw his second season take a step backward. That was partial because Johnson suffered torn cartilage in his left knee. The injury forced Johnson to miss 45 games. Without Johnson, the Lakers were still able to win 54 games.

Johnson was able to make it back to the playoffs. The playoff push didn’t last long though. The Lakers were matched with the 40-42 Houston Rockets. The Rockets upset the Lakers by winning the series in three games. In the final game, Johnson had a chance to keep the Lakers alive but missed a last-second shot.

1981-82 NBA Season

Stats: 18.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 9.5 APG, 2.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Awards And Achievements: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, All-Star, All-NBA Second Team, Steals Leader

Before the season, Johnson signed a 25-year, $25 million contract with the Lakers. It was the highest-paying contract in history. After the deal, Johnson had a run-in with his coach Westhead and demanded a trade. Instead, the Lakers decided to fire Westhead and hire Pat Riley as the new coach. Despite the troubles, Johnson led the league in steals for a second straight year, while nearly averaging a triple-double himself.

Among his accomplishments, he joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only players to record 700 points, rebounds, and assists in the same season. In the playoffs, the Lakers battled the 76ers in the NBA Finals. Johnson won Finals MVP after recording a triple-double in Game 6 to earn his second title. For the Finals, Johnson averaged a double-double of 16.2 points and 10.8 rebounds.

1982-83 NBA Season

Stats: 16.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 10.5 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Awards And Achievements: All-Star, All-NBA First Team, Assists Leader

Now that Johnson got his feet wet in the NBA, he was ready to take the next level. This season would be the first of nine straight seasons where Johnson averaged a double-double. It was also his first appearance on the All-NBA First Team. The Lakers needed Johnson to step up because teammates Norm Nixon, James Worthy, and Bob McAdoo were all sidelined with injuries.

The Lakers still managed to run the table. The Lakers made the NBA Finals once again and played the 76ers for the third time in a matter of seasons. The Lakers came up short as the 76ers won the championship with Moses Malone winning Finals MVP. Johnson shot 40% from the field and averaged a double-double of 19.0 points and 12.5 assists in the Finals.

1983-84 NBA Season

Stats: 17.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 13.1 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Awards And Achievements: All-Star, All-NBA First Team, Assists Leader

Before the season began, the Lakers traded Nixon to give Johnson full range to handle the ball. Johnson would average his highest assists total of his career. Johnson was named to the All-Star team, All-NBA First Team, and led the league in assists a second season. On top of that, Johnson added 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds.

The Lakers made the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season. This time, the team was greeted by the Boston Celtics and Larry Bird. The series remains one of the best. The Finals stretched to seven games. Among Johnson’s highlights, included 21 assists in a Game 3 win, but Johnson made highlighted mistakes in Game 2, 4, and 7. In the final game, Dennis Johnson stole the ball from Johnson ending the game and series to prevent the Lakers from tying or winning.

1984-85 NBA Season

Stats: 18.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 12.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Awards And Achievements: NBA Champion, All-Star, All-NBA First Team

Johnson had another stellar season where he averaged a double-double. Close friend Isiah Thomas led the league in assists to spurn Johnson from another assists crown. The Lakers once again ran the table during the regular season and made the NBA Finals. This would set up a rematch with the Celtics, who had taken the 1984 NBA championship.

In the Finals, the Lakers allowed an NBA Finals record 148 points in Game 1. There were concerns about the Lakers keeping pace with the Celtics as Abdul-Jabbar was 38 years old at this point. With that said, Abdul-Jabbar recorded a 30-point, 17 rebound game in the second game. Abdul-Jabbar was electric all series and won Finals MVP and the Lakers were able to close out the Celtics in six games. This made up for the championship in 1984 that Johnson said the Lakers got away.

1985-86 NBA Season

Stats: 18.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 12.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Awards And Achievements: All-Star, All-NBA First Team, Assists Leader

The Lakers won 62 games and were the number one seed in the Western Conference. With Johnson leading the way, the Lakers led the league in points scored and had the highest offensive ranking in the league. The team made easy work of the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs and then defeated the Mavericks in six games.

The Lakers were unable to make the Finals though. The Lakers were defeated by the Rockets in five games. At 39 years old, Abdul-Jabbar led the team in points, but it was Hakeem Olajuwon that had a stellar series to lead Houston. To many, it remained an upset given what the Lakers had done the previous years.

1986-87 NBA Season

Stats: 23.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 12.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Awards And Achievements: NBA Champion, Finals MVP, MVP Award, All-Star, All-NBA First Team, Assists Leader

It took all this time, but Johnson finally won his first MVP Award. Johnson averaged 23.9 points and led the league in assists with 12.2. Johnson led the league in offensive win shares and total win shares per 48 minutes. Needless to say, despite Michael Jordan leading the league in points, it was Johnson that was deemed as the best overall offensive player.

The Lakers made their way back to the NBA Finals to take on the pesky Boston Celtics. It was the third time the two teams met in the Finals. Johnson had some classic moments, which included the game-winning shot in Game 4 over Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. Johnson averaged 26.2 points and 13.0 assists in the Finals to claim his third Finals MVP Award after the Celtics won the series in six games.

1987-88 NBA Season

Stats: 19.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 11.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Awards And Achievements: NBA Champion, All-Star, All-NBA First Team

The Celtics successfully defended their NBA championship. It was the first time that a team in the NBA went back to back since the Celtics in 1969. Johnson missed out on the MVP Award with Jordan taking it this time. Johnson didn’t lead the league in any statistical category. He also missed 10 games with a groin injury.

He was able to play in the playoffs. The Lakers swept the Spurs in the first round and then went the distance in both the semifinals and Conference Finals against the Jazz and Mavericks respectively. This setup an ultimate Finals with Johnson pitted against his good friend Thomas and the Pistons. The Lakers and Pistons split the first six games, but the Lakers won Game 7 thanks to a triple-double of 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists from James Worthy. This would be the final championship in Johnson’s career.

1988-89 NBA Season

Stats: 22.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 12.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Awards And Achievements: MVP Award, All-Star, All-NBA First Team

Johnson didn’t win the championship, but he salvaged the season by securing his place as the best player in the league. Johnson had a great stat line that included leading the league in free throw percentage. While his season was great, the end to his season was bittersweet.

The Lakers made the NBA Finals and looked like they could secure the three-peat. The team was pitted against the Pistons in a rematch. Instead, Johnson injured his hamstring in Game 2 and did not return to the series. With Johnson out, the Pistons made easy work with the Lakers and swept the team in four games.

1989-90 NBA Season

Stats: 22.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 11.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Awards And Achievements: MVP Award, All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, All-NBA First Team

It was the first time that Johnson was without his decade-long teammate in Abdul-Jabbar, who had retired after the end of last season. With Johnson running the Lakers, he won the MVP Award. Johnson won the MVP without leading any regular or advanced stat category as well. Like last season, the ending to the season came to a bitter end as well.

The Lakers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. It was the earliest the team had been eliminated from the playoffs in nine seasons. Had Johnson and the Lakers made the NBA Finals, it would have set up a third straight meeting with the Pistons. It would have given the NBA universe the trifecta and the true winner of that rivalry.

1990-91 NBA Season

Stats: 19.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 12.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Awards And Achievements: All-Star, All-NBA First Team

By this time, Johnson was 31 years old and one of the older point guards in the league. With that said, he had plenty of prime seasons left and was seen as stronger than his younger seasons. The Lakers had a new coach in Mike Dunleavy and ran a different offense in comparison to Riley’s system. The Lakers also stressed playing defense. Despite the switches, Johnson adjusted and played well.

The Lakers made the NBA Finals, where they played the Chicago Bulls. It would be the only time in league history that we would see Magic vs. Michael Jordan. While that headline was sent across the world, it was Scottie Pippen that shined as he locked down Johnson defensively. With that said, Johnson still averaged 18.6 points, 12.4 assists, and 8.0 rebounds in the series. The Bulls won the championship in five games. In the offseason, it would be revealed that Johnson tested positive for HIV and immediately retired.

1995-96 NBA Season

Stats: 14.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG

After five years, Johnson made a comeback as a player. During his time off, Johnson was named the All-Star Game MVP in 1992, where he was able to play a few minutes. Johnson also took to coaching. However, Johnson continued to work out intensely once he wanted to make a comeback. In his first game back, Johnson recorded a double-double of 19 points and 10 assists in a Lakers win.

Johnson switched to playing power forward from point guard. He played 32 games and finished 12th in the MVP voting. The Lakers were 12 games over .500 when Johnson played. Johnson missed time during the season due to injuries and suspensions. The Lakers won 53 games and made the playoffs where they played the defending champion Houston Rockets, who defeated the team in the first round. Johnson mulled coming back the following season but decided to pursue permanent retirement.

Career Resume

Stats: 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Awards: 5x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 3x MVP, 12x All-Star, 2x All-Star Game MVP, 9x All-NBA First Team, 1x All-NBA Second Team, All-Rookie Team, 4x Assists Leader, 2x Steals Leader

Johnson’s career is the greatest “what if” question. When Johnson retired, he was just 31 years old. He had probably five more years of All-Star caliber play. The Lakers would have continued to build around him and would have remained competitive in the West. Had those Lakers teams defeated the Bulls in 1992 and 1993, that’s a different debate. What we can all agree on is that Johnson is potentially the greatest point guard ever.

Johnson finished with over 17,000 career points and 10,000 career assists. His 11.2 assists are an NBA record for assists per game for a career. His single-game playoff record of 24 assists remains a record, as does his 21 assists in the Finals. His 2,346 career assists in the NBA Finals are also a record. That record will likely never be broken. It will take a player like Johnson to break that record. Watching another player like Johnson in the future seems too unlikely. With his size and abilities, the “Showtime Lakers” were one of a kind. 


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