Nothing But Net: the Highest Scoring Basketball Players of the 20th Century

These guys on this list are popular for one thing and one thing only which is the ability to score an incredible number of hoops every game night. They are the highest scoring NBA players in the 20th century

Many love the game of basketball and it’s complexities, but the highest scoring NBA players are always favorites to watch out for during a game because all everybody cares about is seeing the ball go in the hoop.

There are few things in sports more entertaining than a dominant scorer in basketball. When talking about the greatest players of all time, few mention the most staunch defenders or the savviest assist men, because it always comes down to the guys who can light up the scoreboard.

Here are the Top 5 highest scoring NBA players of the 20th century:

5.) Bob Pettit

Bob Petit playing for the Hawks - He was one of the highest scoring NBA players who played in the forward position


26.36 PPG

If you have no idea who Bob Pettit is, it’s probably because he played for the Hawks from 1954 to 1965. But Pettit averaged an impressive 26.36 points per game for his career and is still the only player in NBA history to average more than 20 points per game in every single season he played.

No wonder he is one of the highest scoring NBA players in history.

Born on the 12th of December 1932. Petit career spanned over 11 years from the year 1954-1965 all with Milwaukee/St Louis Hawks.

In his early years, he was kicked out of the varsity team by his coaches but was spurred on by his father Bob so he worked on his basketball skills and was soon back in the team.

Nobody thought he was talented enough to become a professional NBA player due to his 200 pounds small build standing at 6’9″ which many scouts believed was not big enough to withstand the struggles of the NBA.

Somehow he managed to make it and when the Hawks signed him in the first round draft of 1954, Pettit was signed for a then record fee for a rookie. Pettit was able to prove critics wrong by winning the leagues award for Rookie of the Year and averaging 20.4 ppg and 13.8 rpg.

That season, he also got the opportunity to play in his first All-star game and earned the first of 10 consecutive selections to the All-NBA First Team.

Due to his lack of strength, he soon experienced a positional shift from center to forward. An instinctive scorer with incredible rebounds Bob was soon recognized as one of the greatest forwards of all time. In his career, Pettit scored 20,880 points which is an average of 26.4 points per game. He also made a total of 12,851 rebounds which were all records at the time of his retirement in 1965 and he never finished below seventh in the NBA scoring race. Pettit was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Everyone looks at Dominique Wilkins as the greatest player in Hawks history, but Pettit trumps his career scoring average by almost two points and also played his entire career with the franchise.

4.) Jerry West

Jerry West playing for the lakers - He is one of the highest scoring players in the NBA

Sports Illustrated

27.03 PPG

Mr. Logo himself, Jerry West was not only the inspiration for the NBA’s famous symbol, but also one of the most prolific scorers in league history. Often lost in the midst of the Lakers all-time greats, people forget that West was one of the highest scoring NBA players having averaged more than 30 points per game four times in his career, retiring with a 27.03 points-per-game average.

The story of West’s journey to being not only one of the highest scoring NBA players but also one of the best players in NBA history is that of sheer passion. Born in may 1938, West as a child was very weak and frail and was not allowed to get involved in any form of sports.

But the young west began his basketball training from a storage shed where he practiced basketball with the hoop which his neighbor nailed to his storage shed, shooting from different angles and corners ignoring the weather and his mother’s lashes that he was even termed obsessive.

To this day, the man that teammates called “Mr. Clutch” sits at number five on the league’s list of all-time points-per-game leaders. However, despite his individual success, he has only one championship.

West was inducted into the  Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA.

3.) Elgin Baylor

Elgin Baylor for the Lakers - He is known for scoring a record 71-points in a single game in the 1960 making him one of the highest scoring players in the NBA


27.36 PPG

Drafted number one overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958, Baylor made good on the pick by winning the Rookie of the Year and spending his entire career as a Laker (they moved to LA after his second season). He was a versatile scorer who all but invented the hanging jump shot and was a perennial All-Star throughout the 1960s. In his prime, Baylor averaged more than 34 points per game three seasons in a row.

He scored a record 71 points in a single game in 1960 and set a single-game record before being broken by fellow teammate Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points in 1962. However, that still does not exclude him from the list of highest scoring NBA players. Despite playing with some of the best Lakers team Baylor also never won a championship

Eventually, he retired with a stellar 27.36 points-per-game average and easily earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.

2.) Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain is an NBA hall of famer for scoring prowess. He is also one of the highest scoring NBA players

Sporting News

30.07 PPG

Thirty isn’t just the supposed average of women Wilt Chamberlain slept with each month, it’s also his hugely impressive career scoring average. The Stilt was absolutely unstoppable in his early years in the league, averaging an unfathomable 50.4 points per game in just his third season. 50.4!

Let that sink in.

There are college basketball teams that struggle to put in 50 points per game. Wilt continued his dominance over the course of his illustrious 16-year career, averaging less than 20 points in only his last two seasons, winning seven scoring titles, and taking home four MVP Awards.

1.) Michael Jordan

Micheal Jordann is one of the most popular sportmen alive. He is also one of the highest scoring NBA players of the 20th century

The Source

30.68 Points per Game (PPG)

Since this is a tally of 20th-century scorers, we can safely ignore the two sacrilegious seasons that Michael Jordan suited up for the Washington Wizards in the 2000s. Minus those, his career point-per-game average is an astounding 30.68 ppg (and he’s still the all-time leader even if you include those years)!

In Michael’s career with the Bulls from 1984 to 1998, he averaged more than 30 points per game a ridiculous eight seasons, led the league in scoring ten times, and was an All-Star in every full season he played.

His Airness was the purest scorer the game has ever seen, hands down. Maybe we should move on to his dunks next…