Only 6 players in NBA history have managed to average over 27 points per game, which forms a very small list of elite-level offensive players that get buckets automatically. Most of these names will be recognized by the masses because they are iconic superstars with legendary resumes as elite scorers. But a few renowned players will miss the list, including the likes of Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson.
Kobe holds a career PPG average of 24.99 PPG, although he averages 27.2 PPG over his career by not taking into account the first 2 seasons of his career and the last season of his career. Iverson was also on track to easily exceed 27 PPG, but the last two seasons of his career killed his chances of doing so. Still, the greatest little man ever put up 26.66 PPG over his career which just falls short.
Without further ado, here are the only 6 players in NBA history to have averaged over 27 PPG of their careers as they remain in elite status as the greatest offensive players ever on paper.
6. Jerry West - 27.03 PPG
Jerry West, the NBA’s logo, managed to be the second player to ever win a scoring title and assist title after Oscar Robertson. West is an all-time great player and Lakers legend who is easily a top-4 shooting guard in NBA history. After Oscar stuffed the stat sheets for so long, no one thought that another guard would ever repeat that scoring and passing achievement again.
Jerry West led the NBA in scoring in 1970 by averaging 31.2 PPG and led the NBA in assists in 1972 with an average of 9.7 APG. West was known as a scorer and shooter, averaging 27.0 PPG on 47.4% shooting over his career, although his playmaking was just as good. West could not be defended one on one, and if he had breathing room to get off a jumper, it was a done deal that the ball was swishing through the net.
The NBA’s logo had 3 seasons averaging over 31 PPG and only averaged under 20 PPG once in his career (his rookie season averaging 17.6 PPG). Jerry was simply a once-in-a-lifetime star and his shooting numbers are clearly evident of that. Other than Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, all other shooting guards that came after him could not shoot and score like the great Jerry West.
5. LeBron James - 27.04 PPG
Despite being regarded as the greatest playmaker at his position, James is by far the greatest all-around scorer for a small forward that we have ever seen. The King has countless dominant offensive seasons to choose from, although his 2006 season was the most dominant in Cavaliers history in terms of offense when he dropped 31.4 PPG. James shot 48.0% from the field that season, guiding the Cavaliers to a 50-32 record in the Eastern Conference, and making it to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Otherwise, James holds career averages of 27.0 PPG over 19 seasons in the NBA. James is a locomotive when he attacks the rim, and from the first minute he stepped on an NBA floor, there wasn't a single player alive who could stop him. Quite frankly, no one in history stood a chance against James in that respect and that is why he has an incredible scoring record as a member of the Cavaliers, Heat, and Lakers.
James has solid shooting averages of 50.4% from the field, 34.6% from three, and 73.4% from the free-throw line. The King has greatly improved his outside shooting over the years, and he has a chance to get his numbers up from the stripe as well. Despite not being a naturally skilled shooter, James is one of the greatest scorers ever which is a testament to his greatness as a player.
4. Kevin Durant - 27.12 PPG
Coming into the NBA as the No. 2 overall pick, Kevin Durant should have gone No. 1 ahead of Greg Oden. The lengthy forward was a superstar with the University of Texas, and nobody doubted his ability to bring his unstoppable scoring power into the league. In his rookie season with the Seattle SuperSonics, Durant averaged 20.3 PPG while winning Rookie of the Year. Of course, Durant would go on to have 8 more seasons at an elite level while making 7 All-Star Teams.
Durant earned 4 scoring titles with the Thunder, leading the league in scoring with averages of 30.1 PPG, 27.7 PPG, 28.0 PPG, and 32.0 PPG. The superstar forward only averaged under 25 PPG once with the SuperSonics/Thunder, and that happened in his rookie year. Quite frankly, Durant is one of the greatest scorers we have ever seen because he literally has no weakness. He stands 6’10” with an elite jumper, making him unguardable by any defender in history.
Other than his rookie season (20.3 PPG), Durant has never averaged under 25 PPG in his 14 played seasons in the league. That is an incredible statistic, especially considering that he is putting up a league-leading 29.8 PPG this year. If Durant wins his 5th scoring title, we might have a player who might have a shot to challenge Michael Jordan as the greatest scorer ever.
3. Elgin Baylor - 27.36 PPG
Elgin Baylor was a walking bucket, from the moment he stepped into the league until the minute he left it. Baylor had a career average of 27.4 PPG, with his best seasons coming in 1961 where he averaged 34.8 PPG and 1962 where he averaged 38.0 PPG.
Elgin Baylor finished his career as an 11-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA Team performer, and also won the Rookie of the Year in 1959. Baylor is truly one of the greatest to have ever done and is the best scoring No. 1 pick in history. The only knock on Baylor was that he never won an NBA title, which should never take away from the superstar forward’s greatness as an offensive talent.
Baylor had incredible highs of 38.3 PPG, 34.8 PPG, 34.0 PPG, and 29.6 PPG during 4 different seasons as an All-Star talent. He did this without the presence of a three-point shot and the astronomical foul shots players tend to earn these days. People tend to ignore Elgin Baylor when talking about the greatest scorers ever, but the Hall of Famer is behind only two players with the highest scoring average of all time.
2. Wilt Chamberlain - 30.07 PPG
Considered one of the best players to ever play the game at the center position, Wilt Chamberlain was a monster offensive force for the San Francisco/Philadelphia Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers franchises over 14 years. An unstoppable one-on-one force, Wilt might be the most physically imposing player to ever grace the court. We have seen the likes of Shaquille O’Neal come after him, but Wilt was the original.
His incredible size, strength, speed, and length made him completely unstoppable against any defender. With the second-highest PPG average in NBA history, Wilt had season-highs of 50.4 PPG, 44.8 PPG, 38.4 PPG, 37.6 PPG, 36.9 PPG, 34.7 PPG, and 33.5 PPG. Each one of those seasons resulted in a scoring title, meaning Wilt has a whopping 7 of them to his name. Quite frankly, Wilt owns the record books and it isn’t close.
It is amazing how putting up these numbers did not give Wilt the highest scoring average ever, because only one man is ahead of him in that regard. Nonetheless, Chamberlain is the greatest scorer at the center position ever because his track record during his era cannot be compared to anyone or disputed, regardless of the quality of his opponents.
1. Michael Jordan - 30.12 PPG
Unsurprisingly, Michael Jordan tops the list as the greatest scorer in NBA history. MJ is the greatest scorer of all time because he did it at a level that will never be surpassed, even by other elite scorers that came before him or after him. His 30.1 career PPG average ranks 1st all-time, even ahead of Wilt Chamberlain who once averaged 50.4 PPG for a season. As dominant as Wilt was as a big man, he could not surpass what Jordan did as a scorer.
Michael was simply dominant, winning 10 scoring titles as a member of the Bulls. The shooting guard averaged 37.1 PPG, 35.0 PPG, 33.6 PPG, 32.6 PPG, 32.5 PPG, 31.5 PPG, 30.4 PPG, and 30.1 PPG to win 8 out of his 10 scoring titles, and he has 4 more seasons averaging over 26 PPG. Jordan did it from mid-range, at the rim, and from the stripe better than anyone else. Jordan’s scoring ability is the reason he is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time and it isn’t very close considering he dominated in an era with very stiff competition.
The GOAT was simply a rare talent because scoring the ball came so easy for him, no matter his opponent. It is very hard to imagine any player ever usurping what Michael did on the court on the offensive end, and his career PPG average could stand forever just like Wilt Chamberlain’s season 50.4 PPG average. Despite witnessing some all-time great scorers including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James after him; no one comes close to the legendary Bulls star.