Scoring the ball is a facet of the game that is most attractive and most sought after. Especially in today's NBA, the game is all about getting buckets. But which player does that best, when looking at each team's greatest scoring leader?
By going through all 30 franchises and picking out the highest PPG average by a single player, we can determine who the most dominant offensive player was for every team. Here are the rankings starting with the Memphis Grizzlies and ending with the Golden State Warriors.
30. Shareef Abdur-Rahim
23.0 PPG (1999 Memphis Grizzlies)
Memphis have had some great players in franchise history, but Shareef Abdur-Rahim was their best scorer. He averaged 23.0 PPG during the 1999 season, where he only managed to stay healthy for 50 games. Still, it was enough.
Abdur-Rahim was a unique player at that time because he was a power forward who had a consistent jumper from mid-range and even from the three. He shot 43.2% from the field and 30.6% from three in the best scoring season in Grizzlies history.
29. Karl-Anthony Towns
26.5 PPG (2020 Minnesota Timberwolves)
Karl-Anthony Towns has incredible God-given talent at his size. He affects the game on every level and is most effective at getting buckets on the offensive end. Despite playing for a very average team, Towns had the greatest offensive season ever for a Timberwolves player, even usurping the great Kevin Garnett.
Towns averaged 26.5 PPG, a respectable number for a big man in today's NBA, and did it in a variety of ways. He shot 50.8% from the field, 79.6% from the free-throw line, and 41.2% from three. Towns can be unstoppable and he proved it last season.
28. Billy Knight
26.6 PPG (1977 Indiana Pacers)
No Pacer has had a better scoring season than the 1977 season by Billy Knight. Knight dropped 26.6 PPG on 49.3% shooting in only his 3rd NBA season, making his second straight All-Star Team.
Knight was a talented small forward who stood 6'6", but played 40.0 minutes per game. It is no wonder he managed to have the highest-scoring season in Pacers history because he showed up for his team every night and got buckets.
27. Glen Rice
26.8 PPG (1997 Charlotte Hornets)
Glen Rice is one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. Holding a career average of 40.0% shooting from deep, Rice was a special shooter. The best season for Glen Rice came in 1997, where he averaged 26.8 PPG on an incredible 47.0% shooting from deep.
This season was the best in Hornets history, usurping Kemba Walker's 25.6 PPG season in 2019. Walker would soon depart to Boston the next season, and looking at the current Hornets roster, it might be difficult for any player to break Rice's record unless LaMelo Ball can help it.
26. Tom Chambers
27.2 PPG (1990 Phoenix Suns)
Phoenix have had some dominant players throughout their history, although scorers didn't come as often as players who dominated in other areas. Even the great Charles Barkley couldn't usurp the 1990 season by Tom Chambers, where he put up 27.2 PPG to lead the team.
Chambers would have a special season by making his 3rd All-Star Team and also the All-NBA Team. Chambers doesn't get enough credit for being a dominant big man but he certainly got the recognition in 1990.
25. Vince Carter
27.6 PPG (2001 Toronto Raptors)
Vince Carter doesn't get enough credit for the greatness he showed while being a member of the Toronto Raptors. With Toronto seemingly off the radar of NBA fans as the league's only Canadian team, Carter made them relevant.
The game's greatest ever dunker, Carter was also an offensive machine in 2001. He averaged 27.6 PPG, the most in Raptors history, and did it with a mix of flair and skill. Carter was a walking highlight reel and he had a complete offensive game that is reflected in scoring statistics.
24. Anthony Davis
28.1 PPG (2018 New Orleans Pelicans)
Anthony Davis has more talent than any other power forward in NBA history. No power forward had the skill and size of Davis, who plays like a point guard with exceptional skills. As a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, he was historically great.
Davis averaged 28.1 PPG for the franchise, using a mix of inside and outside scoring. Davis didn't have a successful postseason career with the Pelicans, but there is no doubt he is one of their greatest players ever and he has the best scoring season for them under his belt.
23. John Williamson
29.5 PPG (1978 Brooklyn Nets)
Williamson had the best scoring season for the Nets, dropping 29.5 PPG on 45.4% shooting. He got it done playing 38.8 MPG and taking close to 26 shots per game. Williamson was a player many looked over as a 6'2" guard, as he was drafted in the 6th round of the NBA Draft.
But he blossomed into a star, and no Nets player has come close to Williams record season. Kyrie Irving is currently averaging 27.6 PPG for the Nets this season, but it doesn't seem like any player will break the record in the near future.
22. Mark Aguirre
29.5 PPG (1984 Dallas Mavericks)
Mark Aguirre, not Dirk Nowitzki, had the highest-scoring season in Dallas Mavericks history. Aguirre dropped 29.5 PPG in his third season which was also his first All-Star appearance. The second-highest season in Mavericks history was set by Luka Doncic in 2020 (28.8 PPG).
Aguirre is mostly known for his role in the back-to-back championships won by Detroit, but he was a bonafide All-Star in Dallas. With 8 straight seasons averaging over 24 PPG, the former No.1 overall pick is one of the greatest Mavericks ever.
21. Jerry Stackhouse
29.8 PPG (2001 Detroit Pistons)
Many fail to remember how great Jerry Stackhouse was for the Detroit Pistons. Stackhouse had a complete offensive game, including a mid-range shot and the ability to finish at the rim. Stackhouse was incredibly explosive, and if defenders didn't foul him, it was an automatic bucket.
Stackhouse averaged 29.8 PPG in 2001, shooting 40.2% from the field and 35.1% from three. That was also the year he made his second and last All-Star Team and solidified himself as one of the game's best scorers.
20. Alex English
29.8 PPG (1986 Denver Nuggets)
Nope, Carmelo Anthony did not have the greatest offensive season for the Denver Nuggets. That honor belongs to Alex English, arguably the most dominant Nuggets player ever. English averaged 21.5 PPG for his career, which spanned 11 seasons with the Nuggets.
As a member of the Nuggets in 1986, English led the NBA in scoring and he did it in the way he knew best. Sharp dribble moves, soft finger rolls, and an unguardable skillset encompassed what the great small forward did for the Nuggets in '86.
19. Larry Bird
29.9 PPG (1988 Boston Celtics)
There have been countless Celtics players over the years to dominate the scoring charts. But no player did it like Larry Bird, arguably the greatest Celtic to have ever lived. The Hall of Famer had the purest jump shot in the league, and his high release was unguardable.
Bird averaged 29.9 PPG for the 1988 Celtics, the same season Bird made his 9th All-Star Team. Larry Bird is an icon for the game and his scoring was arguably the greatest aspect of his game, which also included rebounding and playmaking.
18. Damian Lillard
30.0 PPG (2020 Portland Trail Blazers)
There have been some great scorers in Portland's history and the first name that comes to mind is Clyde Drexler. But even Drexler didn't have a season averaging 30.0 PPG, which Lillard did last season. Damian Lillard seems to be getting better as each season passes because his shooting is getting more and more accurate.
Lillard averaged 30.0 PPG while nailing 46.3% of his shots from the field and 40.1% from deep. When he attacked the rim, he nailed 88.8% of his free throws making him the most unstoppable offensive player in Trail Blazers history.
17. Dwyane Wade
30.2 PPG (2009 Miami Heat)
Mr. Miami Heat himself, Dwyane Wade had the most dominant offensive season in the Heat's franchise history. After winning an incredible NBA title for them in 2006, he had his best scoring season 3 years later.
Wade dropped 30.2 PPG on 49.1% shooting from the field, using his speed and slashing ability to his advantage. Flash, as Shaquille O'Neal called him a few years back, was easily a top-2 shooting guard in the game and his ability to knife through traffic made him an unstoppable offensive player.
16. Pete Maravich
31.1 PPG (1977 Utah Jazz)
Pistol Pete Maravich is one of the game's greatest guards to have ever played. Despite playing for a franchise that had Karl Malone, the second-leading scorer in NBA history, Maravich averaged 31.1 PPG which usurped the highest-scoring season from The Mailman.
Maravich got buckets while shooting the ball as much as 28.0 times per game, nailing 43.3% of his attempts. Pistol Pete also nailed 83.5% of his foul shots making him a special scorer with an unguardable skillset.
15. Bob Pettit
31.1 PPG (1962 Atlanta Hawks)
In terms of the greatest Atlanta Hawks ever, Bob Pettit might rank at the very top. Pettit averaged 31.1 PPG and 18.7 RPG in 1962, a dominant season that saw him make his 8th straight All-Star Team. Pettit also pulled down 18.7 RPG in this spectacular season.
Pettit had a Hall of Fame career with the Hawks, averaging 26.4 PPG and 16.2 RPG through 11 years in the league. There aren't many players as dominant as Pettit was in the paint, which is why his 1962 season ranks among the best 15 ever.
14. LeBron James
31.4 PPG (2006 Cleveland Cavaliers)
I mean, who else would appear for Cleveland? James is by far the greatest player to ever wear the Cavaliers jersey and he is also the greatest scorer. James has countless achievements to choose from, and his 2006 season was the most dominant in Cavaliers history.
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. James is a locomotive when he attacks the rim, and in 2006, there wasn't a single player alive who could stop him.
13. Walt Bellamy
31.6 PPG (1962 Washington Wizards)
The Washington Wizards might have a new scoring leader at the end of this season, as All-Star guard Bradley Beal is putting up 30.9 PPG and inching closer to Walt Bellamy's career season in 1962.
Bellamy was sensational in 1962, putting up 31.6 PPG on 51.9% shooting. Bellamy was in his rookie season, and he also grabbed 19.0 RPG as well. Bellamy is an all-time great Wizards star, and he would average 27.9 PPG and 27.0 PPG in the next two seasons.
12. Kevin Durant
32.0 PPG (2014 Oklahoma City Thunder)
Unsurprisingly, Kevin Durant had the best offensive season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant is one of the top five scorers in NBA history because his ability to handle the ball and score from anywhere on the court is sublime. Durant is George Gervin on steroids, which is scary to admit.
Durant is a 4-time scoring champion and has the 4th highest career PPG average in NBA history. His 2014 season was the year he won his first and only MVP Award, and he will go down as the Thunder's most talented player ever.
11. Tracy McGrady
32.1 PPG (2003 Orlando Magic)
Many raves about Kobe Bryant as the greatest shooting guard ever after Michael Jordan, and for good reason. But if one man came closest to challenging Kobe, it was Tracy McGrady. T-Mac had it all and had an insane ability to shoot over defenders despite having a hand or two in his face.
McGrady had the most dominant season in Magic history, dropping 32.1 PPG and solidifying himself as one of the game's best players. McGrady wouldn't last long in Orlando unfortunately, but the 2003 season was the first time we saw a guard that might have actually been better than Kobe Bryant.
10. Bernard King
32.9 PPG (1985 New York Knicks)
The great Bernard King was the greatest scorer that the New York Knicks ever had. Mixing flair with offensive dominance, King was a scoring machine in his prime. That is why he led the league in scoring in 1985, even if he didn't make the playoffs.
King averaged 32.9 PPG and 5.8 RPG for the Knicks, draining 53.0% of his attempts. In only his 3rd All-Star appearance, he managed to solidify himself as arguably the greatest scorer in Knicks history.
9. George Gervin
33.1 PPG (1980 San Antonio Spurs)
Before Kevin Durant, there was George Gervin. The greatest scorer in Spurs history, Gervin was physically unstoppable. He was quick, explosive, and had the softest touch we had ever seen at that time. Gervin averaged 25.1 PPG for his career, but his 33.1 PPG season tops the charts.
Gervin was a joy to watch because his finishing around the rim and mid-range game was the best in the league. Of course, Durant amplified that style of play with unstoppable handles and a 3-point shot, but Gervin is one of the game's greatest scorers.
8. Wilt Chamberlain
33.5 PPG (1966 Philadelphia 76ers)
It is hilarious to mention that Wilt Chamberlain will appear on this list again, as the leading scorer for another franchise. But in 1966, for the Philadelphia 76ers, Chamberlain dropped 33.5 PPG en route to his second MVP Award.
Chamberlain is unlike any player in history because his length and athleticism were groundbreaking during his time. Wilt was simply better than everyone else and that's why he accumulated such incredible accolades. And that's right, even Allen Iverson didn't have a better offensive season than Wilt.
7. Nate Archibald
34.0 PPG (1973 Sacramento Kings)
Nate Archibald was a special player. Standing only 6'1", " Tiny" Archibald was as explosive as they came. He averaged 34.0 PPG on 48.8% shooting from the field. This was the first season Archibald made an All-Star Team, in his third year as a professional.
What is even more amazing is that Archibald averaged 11.4 APG to go along with his dominant scoring. There hasn't been a more dominant offensive season for a little guy than the one Archibald put up in 1973.
6. Bob McAdoo
34.5 PPG (1975 Los Angeles Clippers)
Bob McAdoo is often overlooked when discussing the greatest 50 players ever, but he deserves a spot. He was an unguardable scorer because he blended size and athleticism with supreme skill. McAdoo is also arguably the greatest "Clippers" player ever.
McAdoo dropped 34.5 PPG for the Buffalo Braves, just missing out on the top-5 highest ever. He shot 51.2% from the field and was a machine from day 1 of the regular season.
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
34.8 PPG (1972 Milwaukee Bucks)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is widely considered the most accomplished big man in NBA history. After all, he is a 6-time NBA champion and 6-time MVP who dominated on both ends of the floor. But Kareem is also the leading scorer in NBA history with total points.
Kareem's best season came in 1972, the season he made his 3rd All-Star Team and averaged 16.6 RPG as well. As the undisputed superstar for the Bucks, Kareem made history by averaging the 5th highest scoring total ever. Kareem was a force thanks to his skyhook shot, and until now, we haven't seen a more unstoppable shot.
4. James Harden
36.1 PPG (2019 Houston Rockets)
James Harden gets a ton of criticism for his style of play and the way he accumulates points, but there is no denying he is one of the greatest scorers to have ever played the game. The Beard had 3 straight 30+ PPG seasons for the Rockets in 2018-2020, but his best came in 2019.
Harden dropped 36.1 PPG, to go along with 7.5 APG, and there wasn't a single defender who could defend him. Harden faced double and triple teams as soon as he stepped past half-court, which probably never happened in NBA history before.
3. Michael Jordan
37.1 PPG (1987 Chicago Bulls)
Of course, the greatest player ever Michael Jordan would appear on this list. Jordan had 8 30+ PPG seasons over his career, but his best came in the 1987 season. Jordan was already the best player in the world then, but he was unstoppable that year.
Jordan is widely regarded as the most dominant scorer ever because he could get the ball whenever he wanted, unlike big men who needed a guard to get them the ball. Jordan has done some spectacular things over his career, and his career 30.1 PPG scoring average ranks first all-time. No Bulls player will ever eclipse Jordan's 1987 season which ranks 3rd all-time.
2. Elgin Baylor
38.3 PPG (1962 Los Angeles Lakers)
There have been many great scorers in Lakers history, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant. But neither superstar managed to usurp the second-highest scoring season ever set by Elgin Baylor. Baylor dropped 38.3 PPG for the Lakers, on 42.8% shooting from the field.
Baylor never won an NBA championship despite being a historically great player, which is the only reason he isn't mentioned among the top-10 players ever. But his scoring was the stuff of legends and his 38.3 PPG is probably a figure that won't get passed by any Laker ever.
1. Wilt Chamberlain
50.4 PPG (1962 Golden State Warriors)
It is only fitting that Wilt Chamberlain appears #1 in this list. Arguably the most dominant center to have ever played, Wilt dropped 50.4 PPG for the Golden State Warriors in 1962. Wilt also averages 25.7 RPG while shooting 50.6% that season as well.
Chamberlain already appeared as the greatest scorer for the 76ers, which makes his 50.4 PPG feat even greater. No player in history, ever again, will come close to averaging 50 PPG for a season. It's just physically impossible, which shows the mental and physical advantage that Wilt had when he dominated the game in his prime.