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The Most Career Points By Position: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar And LeBron James Lead The Highest-Scoring Lineup Of All Time

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The Most Career Points By Position: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar And LeBron James Lead The Highest-Scoring Lineup Of All Time

Holding record-breaking scoring stats over a player’s career is an extraordinary achievement. Only the best players of all time can achieve records that have truly stood the test of time. We have compiled a list of the highest-scorers in NBA history, where offensive players were offensive juggernauts on the court over their careers en route to spectacular showings on the stat sheets year after year. However, only the two leading players per position are considered to get an indication of the best players with spectacular offensive talents.

By gathering stats of the greatest scorers in NBA history, we have collected the best offensive players ever based on their total points scored in the regular season while also taking into account that they will be distinguished by their positions. Some of these names will be easily recognizable because they are regarded as some of the greatest offensive players to ever play basketball. Here are the greatest scorers in NBA history in terms of total points scored in the regular season for players in each of the five positions.

Point Guard - Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson

Leader: Oscar Robertson - 26,710 Points Scored (1,040 Games Played, 48.5% FG)

2nd Place: Russell Westbrook - 23,298 Points Scored (1,021 Games Played, 43.8% FG)

Oscar Robertson was the most fabulous stat-sheet stuffer at the point guard position, or at the least the original offensive star before Russell Westbrook came along. Oscar Robertson was the first player to ever average a triple-double in a single season, and he was also one of the greatest ever talents to pick up a basketball. Sure, Robertson was a great playmaker as he won a whopping 6 assist titles in his NBA career, but he was also an elite scorer.

Robertson once posted the first-ever 40-point and 20-assist game, doing it in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Thanks to his incredible athleticism as a 6’5” point guard, Oscar was capable of attacking the rim and finishing inside against bigger or smaller opponents. He was quick enough to blow past players and strong enough to finish with contact. Amazingly, the second-highest scorer at point guard is the new triple-double king, Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook took over Robertson’s title as the triple-double king, and he is currently second all-time in points scored by a point guard. In his prime, Russ was unstoppable when he attacked the rim because he was arguably the most explosive point guard ever. He could leap and fly through the air with ease and often finish spectacularly. Of course, Westbrook has always been an elite mid-range shooter due to his elevation.

Oscar played in an era without a three-point shot, and Russ never shot at least 35% from three over a single season and has never been an elite marksman. That might have held Russ back in terms of his total points total since he played in the modern era, but he is still second all-time behind Oscar. It remains to be seen if Westbrook can cut the deficit because he has been on the decline over the past two or three years.

Shooting Guard - Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Leader: Kobe Bryant - 33,643 Points Scored (1,346 Games Played, 44.7% FG)

2nd Place: Michael Jordan - 32,292 Points Scored (1,027 Games Played, 49.7% FG)

It was massive news when Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for most points scored in the regular season by a shooting guard. The superstar scorer clearly played far longer than MJ, playing over 300 games more and also getting more shots up. But no doubt, in terms of raw scoring ability, Kobe is the only player to challenge Michael Jordan as being the greatest of all time. Bryant is also the player with the second-highest scoring game with 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.

With over 33,000 points scored, Kobe brought a ton to the game of basketball from dribble moves, pump fakes, and the ability to make tough shots. Bryant was a spectacular athlete in his prime, but even as he aged, he had the patented fadeaway jumper that wreaked havoc on defenses. Kobe also won two scoring titles by averaging 35.4 PPG and 31.6 PPG in back-to-back seasons in 2006 and 2007. He was also a photocopy of Michael Jordan in terms of playing style.

Michael won a whopping 10 scoring titles and, by most accounts, is the most talented scorer to have ever played. Jordan shot an incredible 49.7% from the field over his career, even if he had 8 seasons of averaging at least 30 PPG, and once averaged 37.1 PPG in a single season. Jordan simply knew how to score the ball efficiently, and he did it by taking most of the shots on his team year after year.

In less than 1,050 games played, MJ shot an efficient 49.7% and scored over 32,000 points. Had Jordan not retired for 4 seasons total, the player could have most likely retired as the all-time leader in points scored. But Jordan did play for 15 seasons, accumulated a ton of points, and retired with the image of being the greatest player of all time. No doubt, Kobe Bryant passing Michael Jordan was an iconic moment, and it is likely that he won’t be usurped by any shooting guard in the foreseeable future.

Small Forward - LeBron James

LeBron James

Leader: LeBron James - 37,062 Points Scored (1,366 Games Played, 50.5%)

2nd Place: Carmelo Anthony - 28,289 Points Scored (1,260 Games Played, 44.7%)

Even if he is known to be a Magic Johnson prototype due to his elite playmaking ability, LeBron James has to go down in history as a top-10 scoring talent of all time. Armed with the greatest ability to attack the basket, James can generate easy points anytime he wants because he is a locomotive with the ball in his hands. Even if he is considered an inconsistent shooter from the perimeter and from the free-throw line, James always found a way to average 27 PPG for his career. The King won one scoring title in 2008 by posting 30.0 PPG and only had one season averaging under 25 PPG and that was his rookie season when he posted 20.9 PPG.

Obviously, LeBron James has an amazing track record as a basketball talent because of his all-around ability. Sometimes, that does take away from The King’s reputation as a legendary scorer because he always got the job done no matter which team he was on. Perhaps one of LeBron’s best achievements was averaging 30.3 PPG at age 37 and in his 19th season because we have never seen a player last this long at a superstar level. LeBron James is simply a machine of an athlete, and his scoring ability is certainly all-time great.

One of the game’s best scorers and a player who ranks 9th all-time in scoring in NBA history, Carmelo Anthony has been a sensational offensive player over his career. An accurate mid-range shooter with an innate ability to attack the rim, Carmelo was often unstoppable when he went ahead of steam during his prime. Of course, he often dominated opposing players in the paint and it was certainly enjoyable to watch it happen because Anthony was somehow thicker but still quick and explosive.

Over his career, which has spanned over 1,200 games, Carmelo Anthony has averaged 22.5 PPG in total, which eventually led him to score over 28,000 points in his career already. It is widely believed that Anthony will play another season or two at least, so he has a chance to continue climbing the scoring ranks. Carmelo often does not get the credit he deserves as an all-time great player, but there is no doubt about his standing as a talented scorer as he currently ranks 2nd behind LeBron James for small forwards in all-time points scored.

Power Forward - Karl Malone

Karl Malone

Leader: Karl Malone - 36,928 Points Scored (1,476 Games Played, 51.6%)

2nd Place: Dirk Nowitzki - 31,560 Points Scored (1,292 Games Played, 47.1%)

Unsurprisingly, Karl Malone headlines the list of all the great scorers in NBA history as a power forward. The superstar Utah Jazz legend was one of the most unstoppable scorers ever. In 1,476 total games played, The Mailman scored over 36,000 points which is ahead of a ton of all-time great players from all positions including Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain. The Mailman also ranks 3rd all-time in total points scored behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James. Somehow, Karl Malone could not win an NBA title despite being an all-time great scorer and having arguably the best assist man ever in John Stockton by his side.

Nonetheless, The Mailman was a powerhouse in the paint, and his mid-range shooting was also exceptional. The pick-n-roll with John Stockton was devastating, and Malone was often the recipient of countless passes leading to buckets. Malone had a very long career spanning 19 seasons, so his consistency as a scoring presence truly set him apart from almost every other player. An elite scorer who averaged at least 20 PPG for 17 seasons out of 19 played, it is hard to see him ever getting surpassed by any power forward ever.

In second place is Dirk Nowitzki, an elite foreign player who currently ranks 6th all-time in points scored. No doubt about it, Dirk is the most unstoppable “stretch” four of all time, because he shot a career 47.1% from the field, 38.0% from three, and 87.9% from the free-throw line. Those are elite shooting numbers from a 7’0” big man who changed the mold of how big men approached the offensive side of the floor. Nowitzki had the green light to take any perimeter shot he ever wanted to take.

Of course, the legendary German was armed with one of the most unblockable shots ever in the one-legged fadeaway. Dirk could shoot over even the most elite big men because he had a very high release that would often see the ball swishing through the net. Amazingly, Dirk even managed to join the 50-40-90 club during the 2007 MVP season and had 13 seasons averaging at least 20 PPG. Thankfully, Nowitzki was able to earn an NBA championship due to an all-time great run in 2011.

Center - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Leader: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 38,387 Points Scored (1,560 Games Played, 55.9%)

2nd Place: Wilt Chamberlain - 31,419 Points Scored (1,045 Games Played, 54.0%)

In terms of getting buckets, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the single greatest player ever as things stand. The man was unstoppable on offense, mainly because he had the skyhook in his arsenal. Kareem had the single most unstoppable move in the history of the game, meaning he could just flick the skyhook for 2 points at any time during a game. Even as his athleticism waned with his age, he was able to score points and that is why he is the greatest scorer ever.

Obviously, his all-time record for most points scored is in jeopardy of being usurped by LeBron James during the 2022-23 NBA season. Kareem lasted 20 years in the NBA, an alarming achievement, and he played at a high level every year of his career. The big man had seasons posting 34.8 PPG and 31.7 PPG, which ultimately gave him his two scoring titles. But even if he does lose the record for most points scored in NBA history, he will likely forever rank 1st all-time among centers because he has almost 7,000 more points than the man in second place: Wilt Chamberlain.

Wilt is the most dominant physical specimen of all time, once scoring 100 points in a single game. While that is an alarming achievement that will never happen again, Chamberlain reportedly made it look somewhat natural. After all, Wilt averaged 50.4 PPG in that season and ended up winning the third of his seven-straight scoring titles. Wilt started out his career with 7 straight scoring titles averaging at least 30 PPG and followed that up with 5 straight seasons averaging at least 20 PPG. 

Chamberlain was never much of a free-throw shooter, only draining 51.1% from the stripe over his career, only shooting at least 60% from the line once in his career. The superstar center did not need to shoot a high percentage from the line, because he could simply score the ball anytime he wanted down low. An accomplished scorer with the man who owns most of the record books, Wilt ranks 2nd all-time in points scored at the center position behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 


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