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The 10 NBA Players Who Scored The Most Points In The 1990s: Karl Malone Surpassed Michael Jordan By 3,356 Points

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The 10 NBA Players Who Scored The Most Points In The 1990s: Karl Malone Surpassed Michael Jordan By 3,356 Points

There are many important aspects to offense in the game of basketball. Playmaking, passing, rebounding, and off-ball movement all play a vital role in a team’s success. No other aspect of offense should be considered more valuable than scoring. The game would be nothing without the players who could put the ball in the hoop. Now, there are different types of scorers from 3-point specialists to those who dominate the paint to those who can score efficiently from all 3 levels.

The 1990s had it all. Though the decade was dominated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, scorers of all types and from all parts of the league got theirs. Players who controlled the paint like Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon scored in droves while shooters like Glen Rice and Reggie Miller did too. The 1990s is well-known for its defensive efforts, but the true scorers shined through.

Let’s take a look at the 10 players who scored the most total points in the 1990s. These numbers are calculated from the beginning of the 1989-1990 season through the end of the 1998-1999 season.

10. Scottie Pippen - 14,040 Points

Scottie Pippen

Total Games: 731

Points Per Game: 19.2

Scottie Pippen was a jack of all trades known as the Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman. Pippen was more known for his defense and his playmaking than his scoring but he was able to produce solid scoring numbers too. During the 90s, the Bulls weren’t a fast pace team, often finishing below league average in that category. They were more of an opportunistic type who got fast and easy buckets off of rebounds and turnovers. Pippen was right in the middle of it as either the facilitator, the defender who caused the turnover, or the guy finishing at the other end.

Pippen proved he could be a team’s primary scoring option when need be in the 1994 and 1995 seasons when Michael Jordan briefly retired. In 1994 Pippen averaged 22.0 PPG when given the offense to run with and 21.4 PPG in 1995. He only averaged 20.0 PPG or more two other times in his career when Michael Jordan was on the floor. Among all the special talents that Pippen had on the basketball court, scoring was most definitely one of them.

9. Charles Barkley - 14,852 Points

Charles Barkley

Total Games: 664

Points Per Game: 22.4

Among all of the players in the top 10 for scoring in the 90s, Charles Barkley played the 2nd fewest amount of games. Barkley was extremely versatile. He could run the floor in a fast break offense. He could handle the rock and create his shot off the dribble or take it right to the hole. He also generated an absurd amount of points on the offensive glass, creating 2nd chance opportunities. Although smaller for a player in the paint during the 90s, Barkley was able to create separation many times using the strength in his legs and hips.

From 1990 through 1997, Barkley averaged at least 21.0 PPG in every season. He averaged 25.0 PPG or better in 3 of them. Even though Barkley never won a scoring title, it was clear how much of a threat he was with the ball in his hands and his mind set on scoring. During his 1993 MVP campaign, he averaged 25.6 PPG to go along with 12.2 RPG. Barkley averaged a double-double every season of his career aside from his rookie season. His consistent scoring continued in the playoffs as well, averaging over 22.0 PPG for both the Sixers and Suns in his playoff career.

8. Glen Rice - 15,371 Points

Glen Rice

Total Games: 745

Points Per Game: 20.6

Glen Rice is probably one of the more underrated scorers in the history of the game. He was a smooth scorer with a very consistent and deadly outside shot but just as capable from the mid-range and at the rim as well. At the start of the 90s, Rice was with the Miami Heat where he averaged 20.0 PPG or more 3 times from 1990 to 1995. He was pretty efficient to begin his career shooting 46% from the field overall and 38.6% from 3-point range.

When he moved onto the Charlotte Hornets, Rice’s offensive game exploded. In his first season with the Hornets, Rice averaged 21.6 PPG shooting 42.4% from 3-point range. He was named an All-Star for the first time in his career in 1996 and was named one every year he was in Charlotte. He followed up his 1996 season with the best offensive season of his career in 1997. He averaged a career-high 26.8 PPG and led the league in 3-point percentage shooting 47.0% on over 5.0 attempts per game. He finished the 90s as a member of the Lakers and although his scoring numbers took a dip, he was a vital 3rd option on their 2000 championship run.

7. Reggie Miller - 16,319 Points

Reggie Miller

Total Games: 776

Points Per Game: 21.0

Hands down the most lethal shooter of this era comes in at number 7, Reggie Miller. Many single-game moments of Reggie Miller’s career highlight him as a scorer. We all remember his 8 points in 8.9 seconds to crush the souls of Knicks fans everywhere as well as his many clutch playoff performances where the scoring came in waves. This was due mainly to his ability to shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor.

At the time of his retirement, Miller was the all-time 3-point king having hit 2,560 3-pointers in his career. His scoring was much more than just that though. At his best, he was getting to the free-throw line 6 to 7 times a night while shooting them at an 88%-93% rate. He led the league in free-throw percentage twice during the 90s and over an 82- game season, it begins to add up. Miller was an All-Star 4 times during the 90s and averaged at least 20.0 PPG in a season 6 times.

6. Hakeem Olajuwon - 16,484 Points

Hakeem Olajuwon 1991-92

Total Games: 689

Points Per Game: 23.9

Hakeem Olajuwon is widely regarded as the greatest defensive center of all time. While his defense is worthy of endless praise, his offensive game was poetic. Olajuwon averaged the 5th most points in the 90s with 23.9 PPG. The low post is where he did most of his damage using his patented “Dream Shake” and elite footwork to confuse and embarrass opponents. He also possesses soft touch around the basket and from 8-1o feer out that made his game look so much more smooth.

Hakeem averaged 20.0 PPG or more every season from 1990 through 1997. No seasons were better than his stretch from 1993 to 1995. In 1993, Olajuwon finished 2nd in MVP voting and averaged 26.1 PPG. In 1994, he led the Rockets to their first title averaging 27.3 PPG during the regular season and 28.9 PPG in the playoffs. He also took home the MVP award that season. In 1995, Hakeem led Houston back to the promised land behind a career-high 27.8 PPG during the regular season and a ridiculous 33.0 PPG on the title run. Hakeem dominated other centers like Patrick Ewing and Shaq in those Finals appearances, showcasing his offensive talents.

5. Mitch Richmond - 16,613 Points

mitch richmond

Total Games: 722

Points Per Game: 23.0

Just as we mentioned earlier about Glen Rice, Mitch Richmond is also one of the most underrated scorers of the 90s. Richmond burst onto the scene with Golden State in 1989 averaging 22.0 PPG as a rookie. He did not look back from there. Richmond only lasted 3 seasons in Golden State before being traded to the Kings where he truly came out of his shell as a scorer. In his 3 seasons with the Warriors, he averaged 22.7 PPG and shot 48.6% from the field.

Richmond could do it all as a scorer. He had immaculate handles, enabling him to get to the cup when need be or create a shot from mid-range which he knocked down regularly. He also shot the deep ball at a decent clip of 38.6% for his career. From 1990 to 1998, he averaged at least 22.0 PPG and was named an All-Star 6 times. His scoring peak came in 1997 when he averaged 25.9 PPG for the season, good for 3rd in the league.

4. David Robinson - 16,715 Points

David Robinson

Total Games: 685

Points Per Game: 24.4

David Robinson coming in at 4th on this list becomes even more special when you realize he played the 3rd least amount of games of anyone in the top 10. Robinson finally made his NBA debut in 1990 after taking two years off due to military service. Robinso made a huge impact straight away averaging 23.0 PPG or more in his first 7 seasons up until 1997. He would eclipse the 20.0 PPG mark only one more time in his career in 1998.

Much like Olajuwon, Robinson was one of the best two-way centers of the 90s, leading the league in blocks in 1992 and rebounding in 1991. Robinson’s best scoring years would come in 1994 and 1995 when he regularly battled Hakeem Olajuwon for supremacy. In 1994, he won the only scoring title of his career and finished 2nd in MVP voting after averaging 29.8 PPG. In 1995, he edged out Hakeem for the MVP this time averaging 27.6 PPG.

3. Patrick Ewing - 16,914 Points

Patrick Ewing

Total Games: 702

Points Per Game 24.1

Amazingly, only 600 points separate the number 6 and number 3 players on our list and Ewing stands alone in 3rd place. Ewing was drafted to the New York Knicks in 1986, but it was the 90s when he would be recognized for the true offensive threat he was. It began from the start of the decade in 1990 when he averaged a career-high 28.6 PPG, playing in all 82 games and shooting 55.1% from the field.

Ewing’s game would not slow down from there. With his dominance at the rim and unheard-of accuracy with his mid-range jumper, Ewing continued to roll. He averaged 24.0 PPG or more every year from 1990 through 1994 and averaged 20.0 PPG from 1995 to 1998. He was an 8-time All-Star during the 90s and averaged 22.8 PPG in his 15 total seasons in New York. Ewing was also a consistent 20.0 PPG or more scorer in the postseason during the 90s, often having the Knicks in a championship hunt.

2. Michael Jordan - 18,014 Points

Michael Jordan 1998

Total Games: 585

Points Per Game: 30.8

It should come as no one’s surprise that the name Michael Jordan appears at the top of this list. As the all-time leader in PPG, playoff PPG, and PPG in the 90s, Michael Jordan is simply the greatest scorer to ever walk the planet. Jordan’s appearance at the top of this list comes in just 585 games, less than anyone else in the Top 18 of total points for the decade. His 18,014 also come in a staggering 200 fewer games than the man who sits at No.1.

Michael Jordan played in 7 full seasons during the 1990s and in every single one of them, he won a scoring title. He averaged at least 30.0 PPG an astounding 5 times and 4 years straight from 1990 through 1993. That 30.0 PPG streak went back to 1987. MJ sits exactly 3,356 points behind the player at No.1 on this list. He would only have had to average 20.5 points over 2 seasons to surpass that player, making 1994 and 1995 even more of a “What If?” in league history than they already are. Along with his 7 scoring titles in the 90s, Jordan also took home 4 MVPs, 6 championships, 6 Finals MVPs, and 7 All-Star appearances.

1. Karl Malone - 21,370 Points

Karl Malone

Total Games: 785

Points Per Game: 27.2

At the time of his retirement, Karl Malone had scored the 2nd most points in NBA history. Malone relied heavily on his strength and ability to overpower most forwards in his era to dominate offensively. The pick and roll game with John Stockton contributed substantially to his scoring coupled with his ability to knock down mid-range shots when the lane was clogged. Malone also feasted in the fast break, running the floor like a guard and finishing at the rim off of an assist from his playmakers.

Aside from the lack of championships, another casualty of playing in an era dominated by Michael Jordan is the fact that Malone never took home a scoring title. It is hard to wrap your mind around when you find out that Karl Malone averaged 25.0 PPG or more for 9 seasons straight from 1990to 1998. Malone did take home 2 MVP awards during the 90s. In 1997, Malone took home the award averaging 27.4 PPG. He took home the award again in 199 despite averaging his lowest PPG of the decade at 23.8 PPG. 


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