We are just a few months away from the end of the 2020-2021 NBA season scheduled for July 2021. For the fans of this magical sport I made this article that analyzes the 15 players who have scored the most points in history from 1947 to 2021.
The data including the Basketball Association of America – BAA.
The 15 NBA Players who scored Most Points in History – 1947/2021
What are the top 15 NBA players scoring the most points as of 2021? Leading the way on this particular list is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The former NBA basketball player who played most of his career from 1975 to 1989 for the L.A. Lakers scored a total of 38,000 and 387 points. Since 1977 Kareem has been in the top 15 and has been climbing the rankings ever since. Since 1983/1984 Abdul-Jabbar has overtaken Chamberlain and has been in the top spot for over 27 years now. In second place among the players who scored the most points we find Karl Malone with almost 37 thousand points. Malone in fact scored 36928 total points, distancing himself by about 1400 points from Jabbar. In third place, again in 2021, is LeBron James.
Jabbar in 2021 is not only the first in the world for the number of points scored, but also the player who has been leading this ranking for the longest time. In fact, the years in first position are now 27. In second place for longevity is Wilt Chamberlain who has maintained this record for 18 years.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar vs Karl Malone
We saw in the chapter above how Kareem Abdul Jabbar has been the leader of this ranking for 27 years now. But how has Jabbar built leadership in this particular ranking? How many points has he scored per year? And how many is that compared to second-place Karl Malone?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 9 years scored over 2000 points per year. The year with the most points was from 1971-1972 when he was still with the Milwaukee Bucks. The second best year was the one before, 1970-71 with 2596 and the third best was the one before that from 1969-1970. In terms of absolute points per year, the best years were from 22 to 25.
What about Karl Malone, how did he build his second-place ranking? Unlike Jabbar, Malone had as many as 12 years in which he scored more than 2,000 points per season. But even so, the fact that he had a few seasons with fewer points did not allow him to finish in first place. Malone’s best year was from 1989/1990 when he scored over 2500 points: 2540. Between the ages of 25 and 28 Malone scored the most points per single season.
In the bar graph, you can see the distribution by year of points for Karl Malone.
In terms of points, it is in the first years that Kareem Jabbar surpassed Karl Malone. In the first year of NBA in fact Jabbar scored 2361 points while Karl Malone “only” 1203. Over the years the points between the two got “closer”. But the initial gap, in addition to the extra year of play by Jabbar, influenced the ranking.
Lebron James vs Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan
The same comparison was made between 3 other great legends: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan Jordan. This trio is between the third and fifth position. Le Bron James scored 35283 points, Kobe Bryant 33643 and Jordan 33292.
The comparison between these 3 great champions is very interesting. LeBron James, who is still playing and who could become in the next few years the new leader of this ranking, has scored points in a very homogeneous way. Except for the last year, still in progress, LeBron has never scored less than 1500 points per season. Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, has decidedly more heterogeneous data. He scored a peak of points in the tenth year of his career with 2832. But in the first and last years the points were less than 1250. Despite this the fact that he scored a lot of points for many years allowed him to be in fourth position of this ranking. Michael Jordan on the other hand, fifth for most points scored in history, has significantly higher peaks.
Despite playing many years Jordan for many years, as many as 5 in a row (from his third year of professionalism to his seventh) he scored a lot of points overall surpassing LeBron and Kobe. In his third year in the NBA he surpassed Bryant by over 2000 points. Jordan then, having had less continuity, has less total years of playing in the NBA than the others. In general, however, it is interesting to note how each player has had his own historicity and point distribution throughout his career.
Sources and data
The full analysis was accomplished through data on the NBA and https://www.basketball-reference.com/ websites.
To read about the players who scored the most from 3-point range: https://statisticsanddata.org/data/ranking-the-nbas-all-time-greatest-3-point-shooters-1979-2019/
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