The NBA Player of the Week Award was created in the 1979-1980 season. The first recipient ever was Julius Erving. The award is given to the best performers of the best teams of each regular season week. From Monday to Sunday, only one player in the entire league is selected for their play during this span.
Since the 2001-2002 season, two players have been selected, one from the Eastern Conference and the other from the Western Conference. That trend has continued for 20 years. As the NBA has recently announced another player to the long transcript of names as of last week, it makes you wonder who has the most weekly awards. These are the 10 players with the most Player of the Week Awards.
T9. Russell Westbrook - 20
Westbrook is tied with three other players for the ninth-most award selections. His most recent selection came in May 2021, where he helped the Wizards go 3-1 in a stretch of four games. Westbrook averaged 22.3 points, 18.3 assists, and 17.3 rebounds in that time. Westbrook is the only player to ever average more than one triple-double in a season. These numbers were put on steroids.
Out of his 20 appearances on the list, 19 of these appearances came when he was a member of the Thunder. That was when he recorded a triple-double in a season for the first time since Oscar Robertson. Once Kevin Durant left the Thunder, it gave Westbrook full range to do everything, which he did every week.
T9. Shaquille O’Neal - 20
Fun fact about Shaq. He was announced Player of the Week in his first week in the NBA. In his first five games, he averaged 25.8 points, 16.4 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game. He is the only player in NBA history to win the award playing in the first week of his NBA career.
Shaq’s dominance carried over into the later years of his career. That included his MVP season in 2000, the three straight championships with the Lakers, as well as his fourth title with the Heat. We should have known he would be successful after that first dominant week.
T9. Kevin Garnett - 20
There are only two players in the history of the Minnesota Timberwolves that have won Player of the Week. Karl-Anthony Towns joined Garnett as the only two players when Towns won in 2016. Towns own five appearances on the list, but still trails Garnett by double digits for the most appearances in franchise history.
Out of the 20 appearances, 15 of the selections came while Garnett played in Minnesota. A standard week for Garnett might have looked like 24.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists in three games. His 14th selection looked like that stat line. On top of that type of offensive production, he gave stellar defense as well.
T6. Karl Malone - 23
Malone is potentially the greatest power forward of all time. He looked like a tight end rather than a basketball player. He possessed size and strength that made him difficult to defend on the low block. He also filled the lane on the fast break and could shoot a deadly medium-range jumper. Given that he finished his career second all-time in points, it’s surprising that he finished with just 23 Player of the Week honors.
Some would say that it was because Michael Jordan took all the awards. The funny thing is that Malone only had two fewer selections than Jordan. As a player who constantly delivered on the court, he was well deserving of the nickname “Mailman.”
T6. Allen Iverson - 23
When Joel Embiid earned Player of the Week last year, it was his fifth career Player of the Week selection. Embiid joined Hall of Famers Charles Barkley (six times) and Iverson as the only players in Philly to earn the award at least five times since it began. Iverson is on a pedestal though for earning the award 20 times while wearing a 76ers uniform.
Iverson won the award three more times in his career. He once earned the award in Denver, while averaging 33.3 points per game across three games. Scoring 33 points were just another night in the arena for Iverson. It almost looked easy for him.
T6. Tim Duncan - 23
When Duncan won Player of the Week in 2014, he was averaging 15.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.91 blocks at the time. That was at the age of 37 years old. He was the only player in NBA history to average at least 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.50 blocks in a season, which was something he sustained by the end of the year.
Duncan was just always good. It didn’t matter how old he was because he grew with the game as he got older. From winning MVP in 2002 and 2003 to winning Player of the Week at 37 years old, Duncan never slowed down even though age crept up. That is why he is one of the greatest players of all time.
5. Michael Jordan - 25
Jordan is considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time. However, he finished his career with only 24 Player of the Week honors. Jordan’s first Player of the Week award came in Week 12 of his rookie season, but the most he would win in a season was four. He did that in the 1988-1989 season.
You would have expected him to win more during his run with the Bulls in the 90s. He even won two awards in his final season as a member of the Washington Wizards. There was a lot of talent back then, but you also have to look at the multiple years he lost due to early retirements.
4. James Harden - 26
James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets ranks fourth all-time. Given that he is still playing, he will likely add to that number and rank with a higher number before he retires. Harden never won a Player of the Week with the Thunder. That was mainly because he was the team’s, sixth man. He wasn’t the player he is today until he was moved out.
The former MVP won his first award in his first week with the Houston Rockets in 2012-2013. He averaged 35.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists across three games. Twenty-four of his 26 awards were during his time with the Rockets. He has since won two awards since joining Brooklyn.
3. Kevin Durant - 28
Durant is making a push towards the second-most awards with 28. Durant should eventually be the runner-up in the standings by the time he retires. Durant won his first Western Conference Player of the Week Award in his third season with the Thunder. At the time, he averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in four games. Right around then, fans knew they had someone special.
As a member of the Thunder, Durant won the award 24 times. When he joined the Warriors, he won the award twice. That should be expected. It’s hard to win a weekly award for a top player when you are paired alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. When he joined the Nets, he won the award once in his first healthy season in Brooklyn.
2. Kobe Bryant - 33
Bryant sits second on the all-time list with 33. He won his first-ever award in the final week of his fourth season. He averaged 28.97 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 1.3 blocks in three games. In his breakout season, he was named an All-Star and an All-NBA Second Team selection. He also won his first championship with the Lakers.
Bryant won five awards in a season two times. The first time was in 2002-2003 and then he did it again in 2005-2006. He won his final awards in the final week of the 2012-2013 season. He averaged 37.0 points per game in the final three games of the season.
1. LeBron James - 65
LeBron holds the record for most Player of the Week awards by a large margin. By the time he retires, he could finish with 70. If he wins one more award, he will have doubled the amount of his former rival and friend Kobe Bryant. His first award goes back to his second season in the league, where he averaged 29.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 3.3 steals, and 2.3 blocks in three games. He won two more awards that year.
His highest for one season was seven during the 2008-2009 season. Some players don’t get this award once in their career. LeBron did it seven times that season. During the final week of the 2019-2020 season, LeBron nearly averaged a triple-double of 29.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists. If LeBron can pull another trick out of his hat to help Los Angeles contend in the standings, we could see him win again really soon.