The evolution of scoring in the NBA has been one of the most fascinating aspects to follow in the league’s history. From the beginning of the NBA, scoring was not as high, but with years, the scoring started to become monstrous. Therefore, it is interesting to compare the most pointed careers of different eras to see the evolution of the game over time.
In the early days of the NBA, scoring was an entirely different beast. Players like George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers were the league’s dominant scorers. Mikan’s prime performance season was in 1948-1949. He averaged 28.4 points that season, but it was relatively high for Mikan in his early years. It was not until later in his career that he achieved his prime performance at 31.4 points per game. His career high 61 point game still stands with some top players’ performances.
Moving ahead to the 1960s and 1970s two legends of the game entered the NBA to change everything. Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, two of the game’s top scorers, dominated the league. Chamberlain’s career high in points per game is 50.4 in 1961-1962, which is a record that stands to this day. Kareem, on the other hand, scored extremely well in both the early and late stages of his illustrious career, peaking with a 31.7-point per game average in 1971-1972 with the Milwaukee Bucks.
But as we moved into the 1980s and 1990s, the game began to shift. Players became more athletic, and the scoring started to rise. The emergence of Michael Jordan and his scoring abilities helped push these numbers even higher. Jordan’s career prime point per game came in the 1986-1987 season when he averaged 37.1 points per game. His career-high was a 63 point game in the playoffs in 1986 against the Boston Celtics.
In the 2000s, the league began to modernize its rules and equipment to favor scoring. Teams began to emphasize the three-point shot, which significantly increased scoring averages for many players. During this period, we witnessed the scoring champion of the NBA on a one-man mission to destroy opposing teams in Kobe Bryant. The five-time NBA champion’s career-high in points per game happened during the 2005-2006 season when he averaged 35.4 points per game.
Finally, we arrive in the present era of the NBA, where scoring is at an all-time high. Players such as James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Steph Curry dominate the league in scoring. James Harden achieved his career-high 36.1 points per game in the 2018-2019 season while Damian Lillard and Steph Curry sustained at over 30 point per game.
The evolution of scoring in the NBA has been remarkable to witness. From the low-scoring games of the 1940s and 1950s to the insanely high-scoring games of today, the NBA has come a long way. The game changers from different eras have pushed the limits of what was once thought possible in scoring. Whether it was Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar, Jordan, Bryant, or Harden, the game’s top scorers have continuously raised the level of the NBA’s scoring, making it more exciting for fans worldwide.