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Michael Jordan Career Points – An Analysis

Michael Jordan scored 32,292 points in the NBA. This put him 5th overall on the all-time scoring list but it is important to remember that he retired twice during his NBA career.

In this article we take a look at the points scored by Michael Jordan throughout his career looking at his career average points, his points with his different teams and also look at how his scoring stacked up in the Playoffs. Looking at how Jordan performed with points compared with the players above him in the all-time scoring list. To be above Jordan in any scoring list you have to be very good. These elite of the elite NBA stars are LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.

Michael Jordan Career average points per game

Let’s start by getting the GOAT a win. As you’ll know the all time NBA points leader is defined by the total amount of points scored in the regular season. So longevity is going to play a massive factor in who’s at the top of the list. Lebron James has just passed Kareem and is in his 20th NBA season. Kareem himself played in 21, Karl Malone 19 and Kobe played 20 NBA seasons. Michael Jordan played ‘just’ 15 seasons in the NBA, putting him at a significant disadvantage.

The point of stating this is that we are going to look at how many points Michael Jordan got per game? This is known as a career average points per game and it is determined by adding up all the points a player scored in his career and dividing by the number of games he played in. Michael Jordan scored an average 30.1 points per game in the NBA. This puts him joint top of the career average points per game in the NBA. Tied with Wilt Chamberlain who ranks 7th in the NBA’s all-time scorers list.

Ranking the NBA’s top 5 all time scorers by points per game

In terms of the overall all time scoring list None of the players ranked  above Michael Jordan come close to him in terms of career average points per game. Lebron James is 5th overall with 27.2 points per game however he has played over 350 games more than Michael Jordan already, and you should expect his career average to drop slightly as he ages. 

The most likely current player with enough bonafides and career left to potentially challenge Jordan is Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. He’s in his 5th season and is averaging 27.5 points per game. A long way from Jordan’s 31.1, but still good enough to slot him 3rd on the All-time leader board.

Bottom line, Jordan (and Wilt) are likely to remain untouched for a long time yet.

Michael Jordan Playoffs Points per Game

Jordan and Lebron share something pretty unique when it comes to points per game scoring. They get significantly better in the Playoffs. When the pressure mounts, games matter and defences lock in, Lebron and Jordan’s points per game scoring improves by over a point a game. The graphic below shows how this compares to the other players at the top of the total points chart.

Michael Jordan All Time Points in a single Game

The highest number of points that Michael Jordan scored in a game was 69 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers in March 1990.This puts Michael Jordan as 13th overall on the highest points in a single game list. Wilt Chamberlain currently holds the most points scored in a single game with 100 points. Kobe Bryant has 81 points in a single game LeBron James and Karl Malone have 61 points in a single game. The highest amount of points scored by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a single game was 51 points.

Although Michael Jordan’s 69 points is 13th overall for the most points in a single game, there are only 7 NBA players who are in front of him on this list. This is because Wilt Chamberlain was so dominant he scored more than Michael Jordan’s 69 points on 6 occasions. This therefore pushes Michael Jordan’s 69 points down to 13th overall for the most points scored in a single game. For some context here’s a table of players who have scored 60 points in a single game more than once.

Player60 Point GamesFirst 60 pts
Wilt Chamberlain323/9/1961
Kobe Bryant612/20/2005
Michael Jordan54/20/1986
Damian Lillard511/8/2019
Elgin Baylor411/8/1959
James Harden41/30/2018

That’s correct. Wilt has 32 versus his nearest competitor Kobe Bryant in second place with “just” six.

An interesting Michael Jordan scoring fact is that only His Airness and Elgin Baylor have had a 60 point playoff game. All of Wilt Chamberlain’s 32 sixty point games came in the regular season.