Thursday, March 7, 2013

Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Scorers in NBA History

Every Thursday I will post a top ten list and this weeks top ten was inspired by the discussion by Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio about Carmello Anthony.  He brought up a excellent point I have said for many years: a Great Scorer is different than a Great Player.  For example, Carmello Anthony is a great scorer, but LeBron James is a great player.  Great players can score but they also play defense, rebound, and make their teammates better.  Great Scorers can become Great Players, but the two are not the same, as you will see by my top ten list.  Some of the all time greats are on there, but some names you may not recognize or remember. 

To be on my list, here are my requirements: Must of scored an average of 20 points per game in atleast 9 seasons and have led the NBA in scoring atleast once.  This standard eliminates

*Carmelo Anthony (who never led the NBA in scoring but has averaged 20 plus per game 12 times)

*Julius Erving (Who led the ABA in scoring 3 times, not the NBA, averaged 20 plus per game nine times)

*Tracy McGrady (Only averaged 20 plus ppg eight times but led NBA in scoring twice)

*Earl Monroe (never led NBA in scoring and only averaged 20 plus seven times in his career)

*Rick Barry (Led the NBA in scoring once but only averaged 20 plus ppg eight times in the NBA, four times in the ABA)

So here is my list:

10. Bernard King

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 11 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 1 time - 1984-1985
While many people remember Bernard King for his amazing playoff scoring output while he was a New York Knick, he averaged 20 plus points for four different teams (Nets, Knicks, Bullets, and Warriors).  King was not the most amazing scorer in NBA history but he was consistantly a scoring threat for over a decade.  Remember, we put guys in the Hall of Fame for longevity, so why not a place for these guys on a top ten list?

9. Alex English

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 10 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 1 time - 1982-1983
For ten seasons Alex English was a Denver Nugget and for those ten years who was an electric scorer.  He gets overlooked in NBA history because he played for the Nuggets when they were a lackluster franchise in the 1980's.  Yet English was a eight time All-Star and was more than a great scorer, he was also a good rebounder and defender.  Of course being a "good" all around player gets you money and staying power in the NBA.

8. LeBron James

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 10 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 1 time - 2007-2008
James has average 20 plus points every year he has been in the NBA!  There is only one other player on this list who has gone his entire career averaging 20 plus per game.  The story of James' career is still being written but a scoring title, 3 NBA MVP awards, and nine All-Star Game selections is a great resume to start with.

7. Shaquille O'Neal

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 14 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 2 times - 1994-1995 and 1999-2000
When I think of Shaq, I think of a dominant center and one of the all time greats in NBA history. But along with being 15 time All-Star and 3-time NBA Finals MVP, O'Neal was a dominant scorer. He would be higher on my scoring list if it wasnt for injuries as his career came to a finish and mediocre free throw shooting through out his career. In his prime if Shaq wanted to score, none of his peers were stopping him. And thats the truth.

6. Kobe Bryant

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 14 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 2 times - 2005-2006, 2006-2007
One of the reasons Kobe is a great all-time scorer is because he is one of the most competitive players in NBA history.  Kobe has this "switch" which allows him to score at will and he is one of the most clutch scorers in the game.  He also scored 80 plus points in a game.  He may end up higher on this list when his career is over and may finish top three all time in scoring in NBA history.

5. George Gervin

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 9 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 4 times - 1977-1978, 1978-1979, 1979-1980, 1981-1982
"The Iceman" was a leathal scorer and gets overlooked at times because he played for the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls back in the day when the Spurs and Bulls never made deep playoff runs.  He is one of the few players who was able to translate his game from being a dominant ABA star to being a great scorer in the NBA also. 

4. Allen Iverson

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 14 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 4 times - 1998-1999, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2004-2005
The smallest player on this list is also one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.  Iverson found numerous ways to score and he was able to do so even when his team had no other scoring option but him.  Everyone knew Iverson was going to score and defenses still couldnt stop him many times.  Being a steal master on defense also helped add to his threat as a scorer because of his blazing speed in transition.  Iverson also crossed up the legendary Michael Jordan and then scored on a jumper.  How many other players in NBA history can say "I crossed up Jordan and scored"?

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 17 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring:  2 times - 1970-1971, 1971-1972
The All time leading scorer in NBA history is not just because of longevity, it was because he had the ultimate weapon for player over seven feet tall: the Skyhook.  With that famous shot and his prowess for scoring, Kareem was more than a great scorer, he was dominant in an era with numerous talented big men attempting to stop him.  He also has the most 20 plus ppg seasons in NBA history on his resume.

2. Wilt Chamberlin

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 14 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 7 times - 1959-1960, 1960-1961, 1961-1962, 1962-1963, 1963-1964, 1964-1965, 1965-1966
If leading the league in scoring for 7 straight years isnt amazing enough, Wilt averaged a minimum of 30 points per game nine times!  One of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game was such a prolific scorer the rules were changed to stop him.  From the NCAA banning dunking in the collegiate game to the Five Seconds In the Paint rule in the NBA, players and rules committees all tried to stop Wilt from scoring.  Instead of stopping Chamberlin, he found new ways to score each year.

1. Michael Jordan

*Averaged 20 plus points per game: 11 seasons
*Led NBA in scoring: 10 times - 1986-1987, 1987-1988, 1988-1989, 1989-1990, 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1995-1996, 1996-1997, 1997-1998
The man who is known by many as the "Greatest Of All time" was also the greatest scorer.  He led the NBA in scoring ten times, averaged minimum of 30 points per game ten times, and had numerous game winning shots through out his career.  He was the most competitive and driven man in NBA history and that attitude allowed him to score against all odds and see openings in defenses that other players never thought of.  Jordan was more than a great scored, he scored whenever he wanted.  Even at age 39, Michael was averaging 20 points per game.

Honorable Mentions for Great NBA Scorers: Jerry West (13 seasons 20+ ppg), Dominique Wilkins (13 seasons 20+ ppg), Dwayne Wade (9 seasons 20+ ppg), Pete Maravich (8 seasons 20+ ppg), Kevin Durant (6 seasons 20+ ppg)

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