Who is the NBA's greatest scorer? Some all-time great scorers have made their impact on the NBA for a long time. Wilt Chamberlain is the player who scored the most points in a single game with 100 points, while Kobe Bryant comes in second at 81 points. But Michael Jordan has a whopping 10 NBA titles, while Kevin Durant and Harden each have 4 and 3 titles respectively. LeBron James has the 4th highest scoring average with 27.04 PPG and has an incredible track record of getting buckets especially in the postseason.
Michael Jordan is often regarded as the single greatest scorer ever, but that might not be the case after analyzing the scoring statistics of other all-time great offensive players. Here is the analysis of 5 all-time great scorers to end up with the answer to a very debatable topic.
Regular Season PPG
5. Kobe Bryant: 25.0 PPG
4. James Harden: 25.5 PPG
3. Kevin Durant: 27.0 PPG
2. LeBron James: 27.0 PPG
1. Michael Jordan: 30.1 PPG
The regular season scoring average is a very clear indication of how dominant an NBA superstar can be on offense. While this statistic can be skewed depending on the time it took for a player to start playing heavy minutes, as in the case of Kobe Bryant and James Harden, but it's a good indicator nonetheless.
Michael Jordan has the highest PPG average in NBA history while LeBron James has the 4th highest in history. For the sake of this comparison between superstars, Michael Jordan is the best regular-season scorer ever and it isn't very close. Kevin Durant is also creeping up behind LeBron James which is very interesting as well.
5. James Harden: 23.5 PPG
4. Kobe Bryant: 25.6 PPG
3. LeBron James: 28.8 PPG
2. Kevin Durant: 29.1 PPG
1. Michael Jordan: 33.5 PPG
Getting it done in the postseason is the most important part of playing NBA basketball. For these all-time great scorers, their jobs are to get buckets in the playoffs. Michael Jordan once again is by far the greatest playoff scorer in history when looking at his PPG average, followed by Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Unsurprisingly, Kobe Bryant and James Harden are at the bottom of the list. Bryant played with Shaquille O'Neal for a large part of his career, and playing with another all-time great scorer took away from his own scoring. Harden is also not known for performing at his best in the postseason and his 23.5 PPG is below his regular-season average. Once again, Jordan leads the pack.
NBA Finals PPG
5. James Harden: 12.4 PPG
4. Kobe Bryant: 25.3 PPG
3. LeBron James: 28.2 PPG
2. Kevin Durant: 32.3 PPG
1. Michael Jordan: 33.6 PPG
There aren't brighter lights than the NBA Finals. Playoff basketball is the best part of the NBA and the goal is always to reach the final round for a chance to lift the championship trophy. Michael Jordan is once again the king of scoring in the postseason, except he gets it done in the Finals. Jordan's 33.6 PPG is the highest of all-time, and Kevin Durant is a close second with 32.3 PPG.
Unsurprisingly, James Harden and Kobe Bryant are at the bottom again. Harden has only made the NBA Finals once and was very poor for the Oklahoma City Thunder, so he has time to correct his low number. Kobe Bryant played with Shaquille O'Neal for 4 out of his 7 Finals appearances, so sharing the rock with the big man hurt his scoring average. Once again, Jordan reigns supreme.
5. LeBron James - 1 Scoring Title
4. Kobe Bryant - 2 Scoring Titles
3. James Harden - 3 Scoring Titles
2. Kevin Durant - 4 Scoring Titles
1. Michael Jordan - 10 Scoring Titles
The scoring title should be called the "Michael Jordan Award". Michael Jordan won a whopping 10 scoring titles in his NBA career, more than double the next highest total by Kevin Durant and Wilt Chamberlain. Jordan ran riot in the NBA for a decade, and no player could score the ball as he could.
Jordan's record of 10 scoring titles will likely never be surpassed and this is a major achievement to boost Jordan's standing as the best scorer ever. Kevin Durant's scoring prowess is impressive and he leads the rest with 4 scoring titles. James Harden, current 3-time scoring champion, comes in third while Bryant and James surprisingly only have 2 and 1 scoring titles respectively.
Playoff Scoring Leader
5. James Harden: 0 Times
3. LeBron James: 3 Times
3. Kobe Bryant: 3 Times
2. Kevin Durant: 5 Times
1. Michael Jordan: 10 Times
The top players on this list are unsurprisingly ranked as such. Michael Jordan has been in a ton of playoff battles over his Hall of Fame career and the fact that he was the greatest playoff scorer for a decade is beyond impressive. What is also surprising is Kevin Durant usurping Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, two guys who have been known to turn on their offense in the postseason.
Jordan was the playoff scoring leader for the majority of the 90's, and could not be stopped en route to 6 NBA championships. Kevin Durant is closest, as he was the playoff leader in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2019. James Harden has yet to lead the playoffs in scoring once in his career, further signalling how The Beard doesn't always perform to his regular season standards in the postseason.
5. James Harden: 292 Times
4. Kevin Durant: 302 Times
3.Kobe Bryant: 431 Times
2. LeBron James: 466 Times
1. Michael Jordan: 562 Times
Getting 30 points has never been easier than in today's NBA. Defenses are punished for being too aggressive and modern coaching styles encourage up-tempo offenses. But getting 30 points is an impressive task nonetheless, more so when looking at how many times Michael Jordan accomplished this in his illustrious career.
Air Jordan finished with 30 or more points a total of 562 times, which is the greatest of all-time including centers (yes, including Wilt Chamberlain who did it 516 times). Second is LeBron James unsurprisingly due to his longevity, and the third is Kobe Bryant. Durant and Harden have a long way to go, but Michael Jordan is once again the king in this area.
5. Kevin Durant: 55 Times
4. LeBron James: 65 Times
3. James Harden: 89 Times
2. Kobe Bryant: 122 Times
1. Michael Jordan: 173 Times
40-point games are slowly becoming the norm these days for the best NBA superstars. But it still isn't an easy feat and this scoring ability requires exceptional mental and physical capabilities. Once again, Michael Jordan blows the competition out of the water with a whopping 173 40-point games. Jordan has 51 more games with a minimum of 40 points than Kobe Bryant, and no player loved shooting more than The Mamba.
James Harden is the most likely candidate to possibly equal Kobe Bryant for second place on this list since Kevin Durant is fresh off a severe injury and LeBron James simply doesn't have enough time. Jordan tops the other stars on this list again.
5. Kevin Durant: 6 Times
4. LeBron James: 12 Times
3. James Harden: 23 Times
2. Kobe Bryant: 25 Times
1. Michael Jordan: 31 Times
It is extremely difficult for an individual player to score 50 points in a single NBA game, although teams are getting close to doing this in a single quarter these days. Michael Jordan once again leads the pack with 31 50-point games. Jordan was the epitome of scoring consistency and he could have got 50 many more times if he wanted.
Kobe Bryant is second with 25, although James Harden should be passing him up very soon. Harden's ability to get to the foul line and also live at the three-point line means he gets points easier than most players, and he has a chance to eclipse Michael Jordan someday.
5. Kevin Durant: 0 Times
4. LeBron James: 1 Time
3. James Harden: 4 Times
2. Michael Jordan: 4 Times
1. Kobe Bryant: 6 Times
The only area that Kobe Bryant comes out on top is the amount of 60-point games he dropped on opponents. Bryant is widely regarded as the best tough shot maker in NBA history and perhaps the most capable scorer ever, besides Wilt Chamberlain. When Bryant got hot, no player on Earth could stop him and The Black Mamba could turn it up to the highest possible degree. Bryant's 81 points in a single game is a testament to the level he could reach to score.
Jordan and James Harden are tied with 4 60-point games unsurprisingly as The Beard is the best scorer in the NBA right now. The current NBA landscape encourages players to get 60 points so Harden will likely hold this record before his career is over.
Michael Jordan is the greatest scorer in NBA history and it is fairly obvious when looking at the statistics. Jordan has won 10 scoring titles, the most in NBA history. Jordan has the edge over the other Hall of Fame players on this list in 30,40, and 50-point games and also in all PPG categories.
Michael Jordan had a dominant 10-year span where he catapulted himself as the greatest scorer ever, and quite frankly, he will never be equaled again.
Kevin Durant Says Michael Jordan Is The Best Scorer Of All-Time: “MJ Is One Of One, God Level, Unmatched, Unparalleled, A Pure Master At This Shit. I’m Still Watching His Games To Learn. Leave Me Out Of It Please.”