The scoring rate in the NBA these days is at an all-time high, as teams are focusing on efficient ways of scoring a ton of points. Of course, we have some of the most spectacular offensive players of all time including James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry playing at MVP levels every year. For the best scorers, winning scoring titles comes naturally to them because of how effortlessly they get buckets.
Looking back at the last 40 years, here are the scoring champions from 1981 until the 2021 season. Some names will appear more than once, and some other players managed to take offense to an entirely different level by dominating the scoring charts every year. Without further ado, here are the last 40 scoring champions in the NBA.
1982 - George Gervin - 32.3 PPG (San Antonio Spurs)
George Gervin is one of the greatest scorers who ever lived, holding 4 scoring titles to his name (only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have more). Before Kevin Durant, George Gervin was the slender unstoppable scorer with a perfect mid-range shot. “The Iceman” won his 4th scoring title after averaging 32.3 PPG on 50.0% shooting from the field. This is also the same man who needed to score 59 points to win his first scoring title in the last game of the season but ended up scoring 63 anyways.
1983 - Alex English - 28.4 PPG (Denver Nuggets)
Alex English is one of the great Denver Nuggets players, making 8 All-Star Teams and entering the Hall of Fame. English was a 6’7” small forward who thrived on the offensive end, using a mix of mid-range scoring and finishes around the rim. English won the 1983 scoring title by playing every game and nailing 51.6% of his shots.
1984 - Adrian Dantley - 30.6 PPG (Utah Jazz)
3 years after his first scoring title, Dantley won his second after putting up 30.6 PPG on 55.8% shooting from the field. This kind of efficiency is hardly seen by small forwards in today’s game, but Dantley used a mix of explosive moves and a beautiful touch to get buckets whenever he wanted. The Hall of Famer was a special talent and might be one of the most underrated players of all time.
1985 - Bernard King - 32.9 PPG (New York Knicks)
There have been countless superstars who have played for the New York Knicks, but perhaps none scored as effortlessly as Bernard King. The forward scored 32.9 PPG in only 55 games during the 1985 season, but that was enough to earn him his scoring title. Despite attempting only 10 threes over the entire season, King effortlessly averaged over 30 PPG although could not guide the Knicks into the playoffs.
1986 - Dominique Wilkins - 30.3 PPG (Atlanta Hawks)
When one thinks of the Atlanta Hawks, Dominique Wilkins immediately comes to mind. Beyond his highlight-reel dunks and explosive moves to the basket, Wilkins was a superstar on the offensive side of the floor. In his 4th season and 1st All-Star year, the “Human Highlight Film” dropped 30.3 PPG on 46.8% from the field and 81.8% from the free-throw line. The Hawks also needed Dominique’s production, because they finished with a 50-32 record and reached the second round of the playoffs.
1987 - Michael Jordan - 37.1 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
The 1987 season saw Jordan not only take his game from bonafide All-Star level to untouchable superstar level but a 37.1 PPG scoring average was also witnessed. Jordan shot 48.2% from the field while dropping over 37 PPG, something we might never see again. In only his 3rd season, Michael became the most unstoppable scorer in the league and he would just be getting started with the accolades.
1988 - Michael Jordan - 35.0 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
A year after winning his first scoring title, Michael Jordan led the NBA in scoring at 35.0 PPG while also winning Defensive Player of the Year. It will be hard to see any player accomplish a similar feat because the hunger and desire by Jordan to dominate all areas of the game was almost scary to watch. Simply the greatest.
1989 - Michael Jordan - 32.5 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
As expected, Michael Jordan won the scoring title by averaging 32.5 PPG on 53.8% shooting and leading the league in win shares. The shooting guard was simply unstoppable in all facets of the game, even if his team was not having any postseason success. Michael was getting his feet wet as possibly the greatest talent we had ever seen because he was nowhere near finished.
1990 - Michael Jordan - 33.6 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
Once again, Michael Jordan led the NBA in scoring by averaging well over 30 PPG. There is truly no comparison to him because he made it look so effortless. Playing 39.0 MPG, shooting 52.6% from the field, and averaging 33.6 PPG was a sight to behold. It was not even that Jordan was trying to be efficient, he just knew how to get buckets whenever he wanted.
1991 - Michael Jordan - 31.5 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
Michael Jordan won his first NBA title, led the NBA in scoring and win shares, and catapulted himself to all-time legendary status in 1991. That makes for an incredibly successful season, one that Jordan himself might admit was his greatest ever. Winning the first championship is always the hardest, and the GOAT would not be denied tasting glory in any fashion.
1992 - Michael Jordan - 30.1 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
A 2nd championship and a 6th straight scoring title sound perfect alongside each other, something The GOAT achieved in 1992. Jordan averaged over 30 PPG once again, nailing 51.9% of his shots. It is becoming hard to describe how great Michael was because he would not stop there.
1993 - Michael Jordan - 32.6 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
Jordan’s 7th straight scoring title came in spectacular fashion, as the Bulls would complete the 3-peat after defeating Charles Barkley and the Suns in the Finals. Jordan was spectacular all season, averaging 32.6 PPG on 49.5% shooting. The GOAT simply scored the ball better than anyone else and there was truly no comparison.
1994 - David Robinson - 29.8 PPG (San Antonio Spurs)
Before the arrival of Tim Duncan a few years later, “The Admiral” was the dominant superstar for the San Antonio Spurs. Robinson led the NBA in scoring while also averaging 10.7 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.3 BPG. Robinson was the perfect center, mixing skill with physical ability. The only disappointing part of Robinson’s 1994 season was losing in the first round to the Utah Jazz.
1995 - Shaquille O’Neal - 29.3 PPG (Orlando Magic)
In 1995, Shaquille O’Neal became the second-best big man in the game behind Hakeem Olajuwon. Shaq led the NBA in scoring at 29.3 PPG, averaging 58.3% shooting from the field. Despite his putrid 53.3% shooting from the foul line, the big man was still dominant. The only thing missing was an NBA title, as the Magic would get swept by the Rockets in the Finals. Of course, O’Neal would soon taste championship glory.
1996 - Michael Jordan - 30.4 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
Michael Jordan won scoring title number 8 by carrying the Bulls to the best record in the NBA, and the second-highest winning record in NBA history at 72-10. The Bulls legend would also go on to win his 4th NBA championship and 4th Finals MVP, kickstarting another Dynasty of dominance.
1997 - Michael Jordan - 29.6 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
1997 marked the 9th scoring title by the Chicago Bulls superstar, an extraordinary feat. Michael won his second straight NBA title along with his second straight scoring title, once again confirming his status as the greatest player on the planet. Let us just say it: there will never be another Michael.
1998 - Michael Jordan - 28.7 PPG (Chicago Bulls)
Jordan won his 10th scoring title in 1998, placing him by himself above every other scorer that has dominated the game. Michael was once again unbelievable in the regular season, leading the league en route to his 6th championship. It is only fitting that his last scoring title came with his last NBA title because the GOAT had to end his dominance in the best way possible.
1999 - Allen Iverson - 26.8 PPG (Philadelphia 76ers)
In 1999, Allen Iverson was on another level as a scoring guard. The 23-year-old was only in his 3rd season but managed to up his scoring from 22.0 PPG to 26.8 PPG to lead the league. Iverson showcased a killer instinct and the mental fortitude to carry Philadelphia’s offense, and as expected, he would go on to become one of the best scorers we have ever seen.
2000 - Shaquille O’Neal - 29.7 PPG (Los Angeles Lakers)
Shaquille O’Neal was regarded as the most dominant player of his time, and based on his offensive prowess in the 2000 season, it is hard to argue against that. The big man averaged 29.7 PPG in 40.0 MPG, while also grabbing 13.6 RPG and blocking 3.0 shots per game. As expected, O’Neal won the MVP Award to go along with his scoring title. A championship trophy and Finals MVP was shortly gifted to The Diesel at the end of the year as well.
2001 - Allen Iverson - 31.1 PPG (Philadelphia 76ers)
Even though Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers won the NBA title, 2001 was the year of Allen Iverson. Philadelphia’s heart and soul led the NBA in scoring and carried a very average 76ers team to the Finals, winning the MVP Award in the process. Attempting an extraordinary 25.5 shot attempts per game, Iverson literally was the entire offensive plan for the 76ers and it worked for the most part. Iverson was so great, that he even managed to steal a Game 1 victory against the Lakers in the Finals.
2002 - Allen Iverson - 31.4 PPG (Philadelphia 76ers)
Not settling for a scoring title, an MVP Award, and a trip to the NBA Finals one year prior; Allen Iverson dropped 31.4 PPG to win his 3rd scoring title. Iverson was his usual dominant self, except he played a career-high 43.7 MPG. Iverson loved being on the court, and he was relentless in getting buckets at will. We will likely never see another miniature guard like Iverson again, and the 76ers superstar was not quite done yet.
2003 - Tracy McGrady - 32.1 PPG (Orlando Magic)
Tracy McGrady in 2003 was downright scary. He had the entire offensive package, and many believed Kobe Bryant had been surpassed as the best shooting guard in the league. That shows just how dominant T-Mac was, averaging 32.1 PPG on 24.2 shot attempts per game. McGrady could rise over defenders for jumpers, attack the rim and finish over the best defenders, and get hot in an instant. The Magic had a true superstar on their hands and it certainly was amazing to watch.
2004 - Tracy McGrady - 28.0 PPG (Orlando Magic)
Other than Kobe Bryant, the most unstoppable shooting guard in the NBA was Tracy McGrady. McGrady was a superstar with the Orlando Magic, winning his second straight scoring title by dropping 28.0 PPG on 23.4 shot attempts per game. T-Mac was not afraid to take a ton of shots, handle offensive responsibility, and win games by himself when necessary. The explosive scorer would join the Houston Rockets one season later for a new path in his future Hall of Fame career.
2005 - Allen Iverson - 30.7 PPG (Philadelphia 76ers)
A 4th scoring title for Allen Iverson was unbelievable, because of how miniature and relatively disadvantaged the guard was on the court. Iverson certainly had world-class skills and explosive quickness, but how he managed to lead the league in scoring again is beyond comprehension. Iverson dropped 30.7 PPG in 42.4 MPG and led the 76ers into the playoffs again. Despite the heavy minutes and scoring load, Iverson also managed a career-high 7.9 APG in a spectacular season.
2006 - Kobe Bryant - 35.4 PPG (Los Angeles Lakers)
Kobe Bryant was unstoppable in 2006, averaging 35.4 PPG (9th all-time for a single season) and guiding the Lakers into the playoffs (45-37). There is no way a slender 6’6” guard should have been able to carry a team full of subpar talent to a winning record, but Bryant somehow did it. It would not amount to much as the Lakers would lose in the first round to the Phoenix Suns, but seeing Bryant drop 81 points in a single game might have been the highlight of the NBA season.
2007 - Kobe Bryant - 31.6 PPG (Los Angeles Lakers)
2007 was an interesting year because Bryant dropped 31.6 PPG to once again guide a very poor Lakers team into the playoffs with a 42-40 record but still could not win an MVP Award. Bryant was only awarded his second straight scoring title, as Dirk Nowitzki would capture league MVP after leading the Mavericks to the best record in the NBA. Luckily for Bryant, he would win his (long overdue) MVP the following year.
2008 - LeBron James - 30.0 PPG (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Despite the fact that Kobe Bryant won league MVP and carried the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference, LeBron James might have been the most spectacular individual talent in 2009. James led the NBA in scoring at 30.0 PPG and guided the Cavaliers into the playoffs with a 45-37 record. However, LeBron was not able to make it past the second round of the playoffs, losing in 7 games to the eventual champions Boston Celtics.
2009 - Dwyane Wade - 30.2 PPG (Miami Heat)
The Miami Heat were nowhere near the championship level they were at in 2006, and Dwyane Wade had to carry a large burden on his shoulders to guide the team into the playoffs. Leading the Heat to a 43-29 record, Wade led the NBA in scoring at 30.2 PPG although the Atlanta Hawks would sweep them in the first round of the playoffs. Wade was a top-2 guard in the NBA in 2009 and his supreme slashing abilities were the main reason why.
2010 - Kevin Durant - 30.1 PPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)
At 21 years old, Durant won his first scoring title by averaging 30.1 PPG in only his 3rd season. The way the young man moved around the court and got his jumper off at any time was a joy to watch, and everyone knew the future would be bright. The Thunder superstar would also make his first All-Star Team and officially arrived as one of the best players in the game. As expected, Durant would go on to win more scoring titles and began building a name for himself as the best pure scorer in the league.
2011 - Kevin Durant - 27.7 PPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)
A 22-year old Kevin Durant was already making a name for himself as the best scorer in the game with his second straight scoring title. Durant averaged 27.7 PPG on 46.2% from the field, 35.0% from three, and 88.0% from the free-throw line while guiding the Thunder to a 55-27 record. Durant was not quite ready to make the NBA Finals yet, but he was a spectacular offensive player who would only go on to improve his game.
2012 - Kevin Durant - 28.0 PPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)
In 2012, Kevin Durant would win his 3rd straight scoring title, placing him in a special company alongside George Mikan, Bob McAdoo, and Neil Johnston as the only players with 3 titles. Of course, Durant would win another one to join Allen Iverson and George Gervin as the only players with 4 scoring titles. Durant was a force in 2012, carrying the Thunder to the NBA Finals thanks to his unstoppable scoring ability from all areas of the court.
2013 - Carmelo Anthony - 28.7 PPG (New York Knicks)
Carmelo Anthony had a fantastic season in 2013, winning the scoring title and grabbing the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Anthony showcased his ability to score down low, pull up from mid-range, and take over in clutch situations. Carmelo is truly one of the best scores we have ever seen, and he solidified that status in the 2013 season.
2014 - Kevin Durant - 32.0 PPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Once again, Durant won the scoring title in an impressive fashion. The Thunder’s superstar averaged 32.0 PPG, only the second time he averaged over 30 PPG while nailing 50.3% of his field goals and 39.1% of his three-point shots. Durant was already recognized as one of the best scorers ever, but by the end of the 2014 season, he was being mentioned alongside Michael Jordan as probably the best we have ever seen. The only thing lacking was Durant’s desire to shoot every time, because he is simply an unselfish player who wanted Russell Westbrook chances to get his own shots. Still, Durant is third all-time in scoring titles behind Wilt Chamberlain (7) and Michael Jordan (10).
2015 - Russell Westbrook - 28.1 PPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The 2015 season was a difficult one for the Oklahoma City Thunder, as Kevin Durant would only play 27 games in the entire year. That left Russell Westbrook alone to try to guide the team to the playoffs, which did not end up happening. Westbrook still led the league in scoring, averaging 28.1 PPG on 42.6% shooting from the field and 29.9% shooting from three. Westbrook was not very efficient, but he was still the best scorer in the NBA because he had free reign to take any shot he wanted.
2016 - Stephen Curry - 30.1 PPG (Golden State Warriors)
With Stephen Curry playing like the MVP of the league (which he won), the Golden State Warriors shattered the NBA record for most team wins as they finished 73-9. Curry averaged 30.1 PPG on 50.4% from the field, 45.4% from three, and 90.8% from the free-throw line. There was no doubt who the MVP was, but winning a scoring title to win 73 games added some more layers of icing to the cake.
2017 - Russell Westbrook - 31.6 PPG (Oklahoma City Thunder)
When Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook was left to fend for himself. The Thunder were not built to survive without 2 superstar players, leaving their point guard with very little help. Westbrook had one of the best regular-seasons in NBA history, posting a triple-double (31.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 10.4 APG) and grabbing a playoff seeding. Westbrook was simply unstoppable in all areas of the floor, winning the scoring title and MVP in the same season.
2018 - James Harden - 30.4 PPG (Houston Rockets)
James Harden became the MVP of the league in 2018, carrying the Rockets to the best record in the NBA. With The Beard playing at his highest level, Houston made it to the Western Conference Finals and took the Golden State Warriors to 7 games. Harden was tremendous in all areas, chipping in 8.8 APG with his 30.4 PPG average. Harden would not stop in 2018, as he would take his game to different levels over the next 2 years.
2019 - James Harden - 36.1 PPG (Houston Rockets)
For the second straight year, Harden carried the Rockets on offense while leading them into the postseason. The Beard was unstoppable in 2019, putting up the 7th highest PPG average in NBA history for a season. Only Wilt Chamberlain (6 times) and Michael Jordan (37.1 PPG) managed higher. Harden was given free control of Houston’s offense by Mike D’Antoni and put up historical numbers. There is no player who can score as easily as Harden can right now due to Harden’s efficiency.
2020 - James Harden - 34.3 PPG (Houston Rockets)
The Beard would complete a trifecta of scoring titles, winning his 3rd in a row in the 2020 season. There were rumblings about Harden being the greatest isolation scorer of all time, and by the end of the 2020 season, it was hard to argue that. Harden thrived in isolation, tearing defenses with step-back threes and shots at the rim. The Beard certainly benefited from the league’s rules limiting defense, but there is no denying his 3-year run was legendary.
2021 - Stephen Curry - 32.0 PPG (Golden State Warriors)
Stephen Curry, without the help from Klay Thompson, had to carry the Golden State Warriors offense by himself. The sharpshooting point guard almost led his team to the playoffs, falling in the play-in game. Still, the future Hall of Famer averaged 32.0 PPG on 42.1% shooting from three to win the scoring title while competing in the MVP race all season long. Curry also reminded everyone (with no reminder necessary) that he is the greatest shooter we have ever seen.