Top Ten NBA Scorers of All Time

Posted on 7 Feb, 2012, by in Basketball

No. 10 – Oscar Robertson, 26,710

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The “Big-O” is always hard to place in the all time best by position list, cause he was on the first combo guards. Point guard but also a shooting guard. He was just a great player, no need to define. Great is an understatement, he’s one of the best of all time, with few few who will say he’s the best ever.

26,710 points in a 1040 games, averaging 25.7 points per game, ninth best all time. Robertson was a huge college star in Cincinnati, one of the best of all time at college level. He was picked by the Cincinnati Royals, these days the Sacramento Kings. Robertson spent ten seasons with the Royals, never scoring below 24.7 points per game and averaging an amazing triple double in the 1961-1962 seasons – 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game. Robertson won nothing with the Royals and was traded to the Milwaukee bucks before the 1970-71 season began.

Partnering with a young Lew Alcindor who later became Kareem, you know the one, Robertson wasn’t the scorer he once was but finally won an NBA title, the Bucks only one till this day. Robertson never averaged below 12.7 points per game in his career, and averaged over 30 six times, his best being 31.4 points per game in the 1963-64 season. Robertson had one MVP award (1964), was a 12 time all star and was selected as one of the 50 greatest players that played in the NBA in the league’s 50th anniversary in 1996.

No. 9 -  Hakeem Olajuwon, 26,946

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Hakeem “the dream” with his third appearance in our posts, after being in best moves & monkey off back. Olajuwon is one of the best if not the best centers of all time, playing in the NBA for 18 seasons, 17 with the Houston Rockets and a final year with the Toronto Raptors. He scored 26,946 points in 1238 games, averaging 21.8 points per game, just below the top 30 but that’s mainly because he kept playing way past his prime, lowering the averages.

Olajuwon averaged 21 points or more in his first 13 seasons, with his best stretch coming between 1993-1996, averaging 27 points per game during that stretch, in which he also won his two NBA titles and the 1994 MVP. His best scoring season was 1994-1995, when he averaged 27.8 points per game en route to a second straight NBA title.

Olajuwon won’t be remembered as a scorer but more as an all around great and versatile player and an amazing defensive presence and shot blocker. He played in 12 all star games, part of the 50 greatest players group and also has a gold medal with US from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

No. 8 – Elvin Hayes, 27,313

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The Big E, Elvin Hayes is another to be chosen to the 50 greatest players of all time back in 1996. Hayes arrived into the NBA after being a huge star in college, playing for the University of Houston, like Olajuwon. Actually, Hayes, together with Don Chaney, were the first African Americans to play basketball in that University.

Hayes played for the San Diego Rockets than turned Houston Rockets for 4 seasons. He won the scoring title in his first season, averaging 28.4 points per game in the 1968-1969 season. He is still the last rookie to lead the league in scoring.

Hayes wasn’t an explosive scorer in the rest of his career but still very solid and consistent offensively. In 16 seasons in the league he scored 27,313 points in 1303 games, averaging 21 points per game. His best scoring season was his junior year, scoring 28.7 points per game. He scored over 20 points in 10 seasons, including his first seven. After moving to Baltimore/Washington, where he won the NBA title with Wes Unseld, Hayes’ numbers dropped a bit but he was still a great force to be reckoned with on both sides of the court.

Hayes was 12 time NBA all star and a scoring champion once, to go along with his one NBA title.

No. 7 – Moses Malone, 27,409

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Moses Malone was the fifth player to go straight from high school into the pro’s. He started in the ABA but 2 years later his NBA career began, after the merger. He’s considered the greatest prep-to-pro player of his era, maybe of all time, and was selected to the greatest 50 players of all time in 1996.

Malone scored 27,409 points in 1329 games, averaging 20.6 points per game in the NBA. He played 21 seasons, 19 in the NBA,more than any other player.

He played for the Buffalo Braves exactly 2 games before moving to the Houston Rockets and becoming a legend. He played six seasons in Houston and in his final season there scored 31.1 points per game. He was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1982, and won his first title in the 1982-1983 season, the “Fo, Fo and Fo” year. Moses won 3 MVP titles in that stretch, 2 with Houston and one with Philly, including the Finals MVP in 1983.

He continued playing and scoring for 12 more years, in Philly, Atlanta, San Antonio, Washington and Milwaukee. Between 1978-1989 he never scored below 20.2 points per game, with his best being the 31.1 in the 1981-1982 season. Malone continued playing and grabbing rebounds mostly way into his late 30′s before retiring in 1995.

He was an All-Star 12 times, 3 time MVP and has one NBA title.

No. 6 – Shaquille O’Neal, 28,596

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Now retired, Shaq is starting his slippin’ down the list, with Bryant being the first player to pass over him. He led the league in scoring twice, in 2000 and 1995, averaging just below 30 points per game. His career average of 23.7 points per game is 21st all time. In 2005-2006 he averaged 20 points per game for the last time, retiring after missing most of the 2010-2011 season.

No.5  – Wilt Chamberlain, 31,419

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With someone like Wilt, the numbers say it all. Wilt Chamberlain is the only player to average over 40 points in one season, and he also has a season he averaged over 50 in. He led the league in scoring seven times and he even led it once in assists! His most famous record is his single game scoring record, the famous 100 points game on March 2, 1962, as a player of the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks. The closest anyone has ever come was 81 points, Kobe Bryant, 3 years ago. He is also one of only two players, the other being Michael Jordan, to score more than 3000 points in one season. Wilt did it 3 times.

After a year with the Harlem Globetrotters Chamberlain entered the NBA, and the league was never the same. In the 1959-60 season, his rookie year, he led the league in scoring with 37.6 points per game. He had 38.4, 50.4(!!), 44.8, 36.9 and 34.7. Only when he first finished a season below the 30′s in scoring did he finally win a championship, with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967. He added another one with the Lakers in 1972, only scoring 14.8 points then. He retired after the following season.

Chamberlain averaged 20+ points in his first 12 seasons and 30+ in his first seven. His lowest number came in his final season, 13.2. He wasn’t as young and changed his game, becoming more of a team player. Wilt retired with two NBA titles, four MVP awards, 13 all star appearances and seven scoring titles.If there was no Bill Russel, maybe he’d have a couple more title rings, and maybe a few more points. He finished with 31,419 points, averaging 30.1, second best all time.

Number 4 – Kobe Bryant, 31,434

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With 28,601 career points (25.4 career average, 9th best all time), Kobe is gunning for 30,000 points, which he will make at the current rate. With Bryant, who’s desire to put his name on every possible record still burning strong, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him top the all time list if he stays healthy enough.

Bryant has led the league in scoring twice (2006-2007), inlcuding an incredbile 35.4 average in 2006. He hasn’t averaged lest than 22 points per game since 1999-2000, his fourth NBA season.

No.3 – Michael Jordan, 32,292

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What more can be written about his man? The greatest NBA player, the greatest basketball player, maybe the greatest athlete ever. He has won 6 NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, ten scoring titles, five MVP awards and could of had more if the voters weren’t probably bored with choosing for him again. He played the all star game 14 times, and in 15 seasons that had 2 retirements between them scored 32,292 points in 1072 games, averaging 30.12 points per game, the highest scoring average of all time. If not for his second comeback at the age of 38, that number would be higher.

Jordan became the true scoring machine in his third season. After his 63 point performance in the 1986 playoffs against the Boston Celtics, people slowly came to grasp with how good he really is and how good could he be. He scored 37.1 points per game in 1987 and won seven straight scoring titles. He never scored below 30.1 in those seven years and when he won his second and third championship in 1992 and 1993 he was finally labeled as the best ever.

His return from the retirement in 1995 and the second three peat, with Jordan scoring 30.4, 29.6 and 28.7, winning three more scoring titles to go along with the NBA titles just broadened his legend and myth. Those two extra years when he was 38-39 with the Washington Wizards, in which he scored “only” 22.9 and 20 points per game seemed redundant to some, but to many showed what  a great and gifted scorer he was, even when he was touching 40.

No. 2 – Karl Malone, 36,928

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The Mailman always delivers, that was Malone’s tag line. There wasn’t anyone as consistent and as good as Malone, except for Jordan. Jordan also comes into play when we ask : How many titles does Karl Malone have? 0. Twice in the NBA finals with Utah Jazz, twice beaten by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Malone also played with the Lakers in the 2004 finals, losing to the Detroit Pistons, but he was on his way to retirement by then.

We’re about points, and he had a lot of them. 36,928 points in 1476 games, averaging 25 points per game, 11th best all time. Malone played in the NBA for 19 seasons, and scored below 20 points per game only in his first and last. Between them came 17 seasons in which Karl Malone never scored below 20.6 points per game and scored over 27 points per game 8 times, including 31 points per game in the 1989-1990 season.

Although not a pure shooter or scorer like Jordan, Malone worked hard and hardly missed a day of work. In 17 out of his 19 seasons Malone played at least 80 games, never going below 35 minutes per game in those seasons. And he had John Stockton who is the NBA’s all time assist leader. That helps you score points.

Karl Malone retired with no NBA titles and no scoring crowns but with two NBA MVP awards (1997, 1999), part of the 50 greatest players team and was a 13 time NBA all star.

Number 1 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 38,387

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The man formerly known as Lew Alcindor, Kareem is the greatest scorer of all time in the NBA, with 38,387 points, playing 1560 games and averaging 24.6 points per game, 14th best all time.

Kareem played 20 seasons in the league, 6 with the Milwaukee Bucks, winning one NBA title along Oscar Robertson in 1971 and 14 more with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 5 NBA titles with them, with Magic Johnson running the team.

Kareem scored more than 20 points per game in his first 17 seasons, including four seasons with 30+ points per game. He won two scoring titles, in1971, averaging 31.7 and in 1972, averaging 34.8, his career best. He dominated the league and under the baskets in the post Chamberlain-Russel era and continued to be a great player well into his 30′s, playing a significant part in the Lakers titles. He became the greatest scorer of all time in 1984, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain.

Kareem retired with 6 NBA titles, 6 MVP awards( All in his more dominant first half of his career), 2 scoring titles, 19 time NBA all star and of course part of the 50 greatest players of all time team.