(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Highest Single-Season Points Per Game NBA History

Rob Joyce
November 13, 2019 - 3:22 pm

When Russell Westbrook was traded to Houston this offseason and reunited with James Harden, there were questions as to how the two would co-exist on offense. After all, both were used to sky-high usage rates. Through 10 games it’s seemed to work out fine, as the Rockets are 7-3 and both are putting up their typical All-NBA numbers. Harden in particular is off to an absurd scoring start.

The 30-year-old is averaging 37.3 points a game, despite shooting a woeful 29.8 percent from three-point range. Historically a 36 percent shooter from distance, if he returns to his normal percentage he could flirt with 40 points per game, something only one person ever has done. Already with one of the highest point averages in a season last year, he’s among the five players that make up the top-10 in all-time single-season scoring. Here’s the list:

5) Kobe Bryant:

Kobe surprisingly only won two scoring titles, coming in back-to-back years in ’06 and ’07. The former of those years sits ninth on the all-time list, when he averaged 35.4 PPG. He had six 50-point games, a 62-point performance in December, and then of course his legendary 81-point affair against Toronto in January 2006. It remains the second-highest single-game point total in NBA history.

4) Rick Barry:

Though the season ultimately ended in a courtroom that led to him barred from playing in the ABA, the Hall of Famer’s second NBA season with the Warriors was historic. In winning his only scoring title in 1966-67, Barry averaged 35.6 PPG, good for eighth all-time. He helped lead San Francisco to the Finals, where he averaged 40.8 a night, a Finals record that stood for 30 years.

3) James Harden:

He has an outside shot at 40 this year, which would be an improvement over last year’s phenomenal output of 36.1 PPG, the most by any player since Kobe over a decade ago. He had nine games of at least 50 points, including two 61-point games, and his season low in points came in the opener, when he had 18. So far this year he has a 59-point night and four 40-point contests.

2) Michael Jordan:

Of the ten scoring titles he won, his first saw the highest point total. In 1986-87 His Airness averaged 37.1 points per game, the highest non-Chamberlain season of all-time. He had eight 50-point games and a pair of 61-point performances. The following season (’87-88) sits 10th in the all-time points per game list, when he averaged 34.9 points.

1) Wilt Chamberlain:

When it comes to single-season dominance, no one can touch Chamberlain, who owns the four highest totals. From 1959-63 he averaged, in order: 37.6, 38.4, 50.4 and 44.8 points per game. In addition to his scoring prowess, the first three years in that span are also the three highest single-season rebounding totals in NBA history (the last year in ’62-63 is only the sixth highest). Oh, did we mention those were also his first four years in the league? That run includes all six (!!) of his 70-point contests, including his 100-point game in 1962.