Holding record-breaking per-game scoring stats is an extraordinary achievement, and only the best players in specific seasons manage to have records. We have compiled a list of the highest PPG scorers in NBA history, although one particular player holds the majority of these records. His name is none other than Wilt Chamberlain, the center whose career can be an autobiography of records held. By gathering stats of the greatest scorers in NBA history, we have collected the cream of the crop and separated them into tiers.
Most of these names will be easily recognizable because they are regarded as some of the greatest offensive players to ever play basketball. Of course, it is obvious that Wilt Chamberlain, the most dominant physical specimen in NBA history, will occupy many of these tiers. By taking into account the game’s greatest scorers who averaged at least 32 PPG, here are the tiers of the league’s best scorers separated into tiers.
Tier 6 - 32+ PPG
Averaging at least 32 PPG is very rare because only 28 players in NBA history have managed to achieve it. Out of a total of 4,000-plus players that have played in the league, that means less than 0.7% have been able to put up 32 PPG at least. The names in this tier will be very recognizable because each one has won a scoring title in their careers.
Bernard King - 32.9 PPG
In the 1985 season, Bernard King won his only scoring title by posting 32.9 PPG on 53.0% shooting from the field. An elite scorer from the small forward position, King was at his best when he could pull off his lightning-quick turnaround jumper. An efficient scorer that made a career out of being a dominant scorer, King owns Tier 6 with the highest PPG average.
Michael Jordan - 32.6 PPG
One name that will consistently appear in this tier is Michael Jordan, a superstar legend for the Chicago Bulls. Jordan averaged 32.6 PPG in the final season before his first retirement, a league-leading number that gifted MJ his 7th straight scoring title. Capping off this season with his 3rd NBA title would prove to be one of the best seasons ever.
Michael Jordan - 32.5 PPG
Jordan appears in Tier 6 once again, after he posted 32.5 PPG during the 1989 season which was his 5th season in the league. The shooting guard was firing on all cylinders during the season, as he made his 5th straight All-Star Team and won his 3rd straight scoring title. A fantastic athlete with a deadly mid-range jumper, MJ will appear on some more tiers because he is the greatest scorer ever.
George Gervin - 32.3 PPG
George Gervin is one of the greatest scorers ever and is one of the few players to ever win at least 4 scoring titles. The slender shooting guard put up 32.3 PPG during the 1982 season when Gervin was 29 years old, nailing 50.0% of his shots from the field and 86.4% of his fouls shots. It was pick your poison with the “Iceman” because he could score in a variety of ways against any opponent.
Tracy McGrady - 32.1 PPG
A legendary scorer with 2 scoring titles, Tracy McGrady was a special talent in his prime with the Orlando Magic. T-Mac only averaged at least 30 PPG once in his career, and it came in the 2003 season when the shooting guard averaged 32.1 PPG in his 6th season in the NBA. McGrady would make his 3rd straight All-Star Team with the Magic and was arguably the most dominant offensive player in the NBA at that time.
Kevin Durant - 32.0 PPG
An all-time great scorer and player, Kevin Durant is a walking bucket at 6’10”. With an incredible wingspan and elite ball-handling and shooting skills, KD is literally unstoppable when he has the ball in his favorite spots. Durant only averaged at least 30 PPG twice in his career, the best coming in the 2014 season when he won league MVP after shooting 50.3% from the field and 39.1% from three.
Stephen Curry - 32.0 PPG
Just last season, Stephen Curry joined the esteemed Tier 6 as a star who dropped at least 32.0 PPG. The point guard did not have much postseason success with the number of injuries his team had, but he wreaked havoc on the league by nailing 48.2% from the field, 42.1% from three, and 91.6% from the free-throw line. The best shooter ever, it is no surprise to see Curry appear in at least one Tier.
Tier 5 - 33 PPG
Michael Jordan - 33.6 PPG
Michael Jordan had an unbelievable 8 seasons averaging at least 30 PPG, and one of his best seasons came in 1990 when he captured his 4th straight scoring title and 6th straight All-Star Team. By 1990, there was no doubt who the most spectacular scorer in the league was, and he would soon reign supreme as an NBA champion once Scottie Pippen matured into an All-Star. Jordan’s 33.6 PPG was done with an efficient 52.6% shooting from the field.
Wilt Chamberlain - 33.5 PPG
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the greatest scorers ever, mainly because there was no answer for the most physically dominant star in the game. In his prime at 29 years old for the Philadelphia 76ers, Wilt was at his peak physically and made every defender pay. In 79 games played, Chamberlain averaged 33.5 PPG on 54.0% from the field.
George Gervin - 33.1 PPG
George Gervin won 4 scoring titles, but his career-high came in the 1980 season when he posted 33.1 PPG on 52.8% from the field and 85.2% from the free-throw line. The superstar scorer was incredibly dominant from mid-range and when attacking the basket, making him one of his generation’s most unstoppable players as a Hall of Famer.
Allen Iverson - 33.0 PPG
With 4 scoring titles to his name and 4 seasons of averaging at least 30 PPG, Allen Iverson put up his career-high 33.0 PPG during the 2006 season for the Philadelphia 76ers. He did it by playing 43.1 MPG and shooting a decent 44.7% shooting from the field, despite the fact he lived by attacking bigs at the basket and creating from mid-range.
Tier 4 - 34-35 PPG
Rick Barry - 35.6 PPG
Most of the younger audience might not be too familiar with Rick Barry, a superstar small forward for the San Francisco Warriors. In his second season after getting drafted No. 4 overall in the 1965 Draft, Barry put up his career-high of 35.6 PPG on 45.1% shooting from the field. Adding in 9.2 RPG and 3.6 APG, Barry was clearly an elite all-around star with an unstoppable offensive game.
Kobe Bryant - 35.4 PPG
With 2 scoring titles to his name and 3 seasons of averaging at least 30 PPG, Bryant’s career-high came in the 2006 season when he averaged 35.4 PPG for a below-average Los Angeles Lakers squad. That was the season Bryant dropped the second-highest point total in NBA history with 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, so his season PPG mark was no surprise at the end of the year.
Michael Jordan - 35.0 PPG
In one of his eight seasons putting up over 30 PPG, Michael Jordan dropped 35.0 PPG on 53.5% shooting from the field in 1988. This was the same season that MJ won Defensive Player of the Year and also captured league MVP. It is widely believed that Jordan’s 1988 season was his greatest ever because he dominated both ends of the floor unlike anyone else did in his era.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 34.8 PPG
Superstar center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put up over 30 PPG in his career 4 times, and his best season came in 1972 for the Milwaukee Bucks. The leading scorer in NBA history, Kareem won 2 scoring titles in 1971 and 1972. While the 1971 season came with a championship for Kareem, 1972 did not but Abdul-Jabbar still put up a ridiculous scoring average on 57.4% shooting.
Elgin Baylor - 34.8 PPG
Easily one of the greatest Lakers ever and an all-time great small forward, Elgin Baylor accomplished almost everything on the basketball court except winning an NBA championship. But he was an elite scorer, averaging at least 30 PPG 3 times. Baylor dropped 34.8 PPG in the 1961 season, nailing 43.0% of his field goals.
Wilt Chamberlain - 34.7 PPG
In one of his 7 seasons that came with a scoring title, Wilt Chamberlain dropped 34.7 PPG in 1965. This season was also the 6th straight season where Wilt led the league in scoring, shooting an impressive 51.0% from the field. An all-time physical force, Chamberlain was in the midst of his prime when his 34.7 PPG was his lowest average in 6 years which is hilarious to mention.
Bob McAdoo - 34.5 PPG
In only his third NBA season, superstar Bob McAdoo made his second straight All-Star Team while putting up his second straight season of averaging at least 30 PPG. The frontcourt star put up his career-high of 34.5 PPG on 51.2% shooting for the Buffalo Braves. McAdoo’s peers considered him one of the most unstoppable players ever because he could space the floor and had the size to score around the rim.
James Harden - 34.3 PPG
James Harden had a magical run with the Houston Rockets between the 2018 and 2020 seasons, averaging over 30 PPG each time and competing for the MVP award. The Beard won MVP in 2018, but also put up his second-highest scoring average of 34.3 PPG in 2020. Taking advantage of relaxed defensive rules that led to a season average of nearly 12 free throws per game, Harden was simply unstoppable when he had the ball.
Nate Archibald - 34.0 PPG
The first player to ever lead the league in scoring and assists, Tiny Archibald was simply an offensive superstar when he had the ball. Archibald became a superstar for the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in his second season, posting 28.2 PPG and 9.2 APG. But his third season was legendary, posting league-highs 34.0 PPG and 11.4 APG. Standing 6’1”, Archibald was an elite ball-handler and passer with impressive athleticism for his size. This season was a major reason that Tiny made the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Elgin Baylor - 34.0 PPG
Elgin Baylor already appears in Tier 4 after posting 34.8 PPG during the 1961 season for the Los Angeles Lakers, but he also put up 34.0 PPG during the 1963 season when he shot 45.3% shooting from the field. The superstar forward was exceptional at scoring around the rim and had the physicality and athleticism to punish smaller defenders. Baylor’s career average of 27.4 PPG ranks 3rd all-time behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
Tier 3 - 36-38 PPG
Wilt Chamberlain - 38.4 PPG
Wilt Chamberlain not only owns the record books for highest-scoring seasons, but he appears multiple times across multiple Tiers. His scoring record during the first 7 seasons of his career is simply unbelievable because we have not seen anything like The Big Dipper since. In his second NBA season, Chamberlain dropped 38.4 PPG on 50.9% shooting for the Philadelphia Warriors.
Wilt Chamberlain - 37.6 PPG
In his rookie season, superstar Wilt Chamberlain put up 37.6 PPG in 1960 when he ran away with Rookie of the Year and shot 46.1% from the field. Standing 7’1” and weighing 275 lbs, Chamberlain immediately made his mark on the league after getting drafted No. 3 overall in the 1959 NBA Draft. Just a sidenote: Wilt Chamberlain is not done appearing on this Tier.
Michael Jordan - 37.1 PPG
Other than Wilt Chamberlain, no player in NBA history dominated the scoring charts like Michael Jordan. The superstar shooting guard won a whopping 10 scoring titles, but his best season came in his third season after he bounced back from an injury-ridden second season. Jordan started staking his claim as the best player in the world at 23 years old, and he never looked back after posting the 5th highest season average in NBA history.
Wilt Chamberlain - 36.9 PPG
Yet another scoring achievement for Wilt Chamberlain, as the big man posted 36.9 PPG on 52.4% shooting from the field in his 5th season. The Big Dipper was absolutely dominant, posting monster numbers from the field and consistently owning the paint against any defender. Wilt will appear in other Tiers, an indication of how dominant the center was during the first 7 seasons of his career.
James Harden - 36.1 PPG
James Harden won the MVP award in 2018 by averaging 30.4 PPG and made it to the Western Conference Finals, marking the best all-around season of his career. But The Beard followed up that season by posting the 7th highest season average in NBA history. Using his elite ball-handling skills to shake defenders and attack the rim, Harden made it to the rim for 11 free-throw attempts per game. Armed with a stepback three-point jump shot as well, Harden was simply unstoppable as teams double and triple-teamed him as soon as he stepped passed half-court.
Tier 2 - 40+ PPG
Wilt Chamberlain - 44.8 PPG
Wilt Chamberlain was a phenom unlike anyone else the league has seen. A 7’1” center that weighed 275 lbs, Chamberlain was the original dominant superstar that owned defenders with raw size and athleticism. The big man also had a fantastic touch around the rim and made a living punishing smaller defenders when he had the ball. Wilt won 7 scoring titles in his career, and he is the only member in Tier 2 with a season average of at least 40 PPG.
Tier 1 - 50+ PPG
Wilt Chamberlain - 50.4 PPG
Wilt Chamberlain’s name is on most records because he is the single most dominant superstar in NBA history. Shaquille O’Neal did it through mass and strength, but Wilt checked all the boxes. He was faster, stronger, taller, and longer than any other player in the league during his prime. Most importantly, he jumped higher and at 7’1”, there was no stopping Chamberlain from grabbing rebounds or scoring points. Wilt dropped 100 points in a single game during the 1962 season and finished the season with a record-breaking 50.4 PPG that will never be surpassed.
Credit for idea: sogbasketball/Instagram