The NBA is known for their overwhelming talent and the scoring records that these players have put up in years past. Here’s a list of some of the best scorers to ever grace this league.
The “best nba players of the 2020s” is a list of the top 10 NBA players with the most PPG during their rookie season. The list includes Wilt Chamberlain, who was a scoring god since his first season.
Playing as a rookie is difficult, to put it bluntly. It’s not the same as playing with high school students or college students. When a 19-year-old is pitted against a 31-year-old, it’s a different animal. It might be difficult to find points, but history has shown that this is not always the case. With that said, history reveals that things aren’t quite as simple as they once were.
Blake Griffin, who had the 22nd best rookie scoring average with 22.5 points per game in 2010-2011, has the greatest rookie scoring average of any rookie player. Griffin was a sophomore at the time, although he had missed his freshman season due to injury. The list includes Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson, but it also includes a plethora of stars from the previous generation.
Either the league has progressed or these guys were exceptional at the time. These are the top ten highest rookie season averages.
Geoff Petrie (#10) (Trail Blazers)
24.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.8 APG as a rookie (1970-71)
Petrie helped the Princeton men’s basketball team to the eighth spot in the Associated Press poll. He topped the Ivy League in scoring the next year, averaging 23.9 points per game in conference games, including a trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament in 1969. Petrie scored 1,321 points in college, which was third in school history at the time and is still eighth now. He was picked by the Trail Blazers after measuring 6-foot-4 and being able to play both guard and forward positions.
After scoring 24.8 points per game in his first season, he was selected co-Rookie of the Year alongside Celtics’ Dave Cowens. Petrie maintained the Trail Blazers individual scoring record of 51 points until Damon Stoudemire’s 54-point game in 2005. Petrie’s career was eventually cut short due to knee issues.
Elgin Baylor (nine) (Minneapolis Lakers)
Rookie stats: 24.8 points per game, 15.0 rebounds per game, and 4.1 assists per game (1958-59)
Baylor spent three years of his academic career at the College of Idaho and the University of Washington in Seattle. In the 1956-1957 season, Baylor averaged 31.3 points and 19.5 rebounds per game, leading the NCAA in rebounding. Baylor finished second in scoring, third in rebounding, and ninth in assists as a freshman.
He once scored 55 points in a single game, which was the third-highest total in league history, after only Joe Fulks’ 63 and George Mikan’s 61. Just one year after finishing last in the standings, Baylor earned Rookie of the Year and led the Lakers to the NBA Finals. The Celtics swept the Lakers in four games, igniting a heated rivalry between the two organizations.
Terry Dischinger, no. 8 (Chicago Zephyrs)
Rookie stats: 25.5 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, and 3.1 assists per game (1962-63)
Dischinger owned virtually every scoring record at Purdue when he graduated. Dischinger was awarded All-Big Ten three years in a row and was also voted team MVP. He has nine 40-point performances under his belt, 713 free throws made out of 871 attempts, and 14.3 rebounds per game. He also has the second-most rebounds (1148), behind Joe Barry Carroll.
He averaged 28.3 points per game, which is why he was selected with the No. 8 overall choice. With a fantastic stat line, he was named Rookie of the Year, but the club struggled. Under two different coaches, the Zephyrs finished 25-55. Dischinger beat out four future Hall of Famers in Zelmo Beaty, Dave DeBusschere, John Havlicek, and Chet Walker for the trophy.
Rick Barry is number seven (San Francisco Warriors)
Stats as a rookie: 25.7 points per game, 10.6 rebounds per game, and 2.2 assists per game (1965-66)
Under Bruce Hale, Barry played collegiate basketball at the University of Miami, where the team played an up-tempo pro-style of basketball. Barry was an All-American three times during his tenure there, and his senior year he led the NCAA in scoring with 37.4 points per game. Because Miami was put on probation, the squad was unable to compete in the NCAA tournament. Despite this, Barry earned the No. 2 overall selection in the draft.
The Knicks passed on Barry in favor of Princeton standout Bill Bradley. Barry didn’t forget, scoring 57 points in his debut at Madison Square Garden. Barry had a number of memorable performances, including scoring 36 points in the All-Star Game against Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Oscar Robertson. At the conclusion of the season, Barry was named Rookie of the Year.
Michael Jordan, No. 6 (Chicago Bulls)
Rookie stats: 28.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 5.9 assists per game, 2.3 steals per game, and 0.8 blocks per game (1984-85)
Jordan was a unanimous First Team All-American at North Carolina in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Jordan was selected with the third overall selection by the Chicago Bulls after winning the Wooden College Player of the Year award. Portland passed on Jordan at the time because the club already had a guard in Clyde Drexler and needed a center. It turned out to be a major blunder.
Jordan helped the club become a playoff contender by shooting 51.5 percent from the field. Jordan’s rookie season included Isiah Thomas’ memorable “freeze out” in the All-Star Game, in which teammates refused to throw the ball to him. When he won Rookie of the Year and got back at Thomas years later, he was unmoved by the issue.
5. Hayes, Elvin (San Diego Rockets)
Rookie stats: 28.4 points per game, 17.1 rebounds per game, and 1.4 assists per game (1968-69)
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Hayes had a fantastic run at Houston. In 1967, he was instrumental in helping the team to the Final Four. It included a historic clash with UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who came out on top. Hayes had 24 rebounds in the game, which was second only to Abdul-27 Jabbar’s in the Final Four. The two squared off in the first-ever nationally broadcast collegiate basketball game in the rematch. Kareem was held to 15 points by Hayes, who scored 39 points. It ended a 47-game winning run for the team.
Hayes averaged 31.0 points and 17.2 rebounds in college, with 222 rebounds breaking an NCAA tournament record. San Diego selected Hayes, who went on to lead the NBA in scoring and earn All-Rookie Team honors. His scoring average still holds the record for the most points scored by a rookie in the league. During the regular season, he set a career best with 54 points against the Pistons.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (#4) (Milwaukee Bucks)
Rookie stats: 28.8 points per game, 14.5 rebounds per game, and 4.1 assists per game (1969-70)
Kareem was a three-time National Player of the Year and the first-ever Naismith College Player of the Year when he departed UCLA. He also owns the lifetime scoring average, the most career field goals, the most points in a season, and the most made field goals marks. The Harlem Globetrotters offered him $1 million to play for them as a result of this. Instead, he turned down the offer and was the first overall choice in the draft.
The Bucks were just in their second season when they won a coin toss versus the Suns for the No. 1 overall selection. The Bucks improved by over 30 victories to finish second in the Eastern Division. After ranking second in the league in scoring and third in rebounding, he was named Rookie of the Year. During the season, his 46-point, 25-rebound performance made him the first rookie to score at least 40 points and grab at least 25 rebounds, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only other rookie to do so. He also established a rookie record with 10 or more postseason games of 20 points or more, which was matched by Jayson Tatum in 2018.
3. Oscar Robertson is a well-known actor (Cincinnati Royals)
Rookie stats: 30.5 points per game, 10.1 rebounds per game, and 9.7 assists per game (1960-61)
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In three seasons, Robertson guided Cincinnati to a total 79-9 overall record, including two Final Four appearances. He was the school’s all-time best scorer until 1970, when future Hall of Famer Pete Maravich surpassed him. He still holds the records for most points in a game (62), career rebounds, and career points at Cincinnati.
Robertson was a territorial choice in the NBA, which meant he would join the Royals after attending Cincinnati. Robertson was the only player to average a triple-double in a season until Russell Westbrook in 2017, which he achieved his second year. He came close to doing it right away in his debut season. Despite only winning 33 games as a club, Robertson was named to the All-NBA First Team and awarded Rookie of the Year.
Walt Bellamy, No. 2 (Chicago Packers)
Rookie stats: 31.6 points per game, 19.0 rebounds per game, and 2.7 assists per game (1961-62)
The Score (credit)
Bellamy was a powerhouse at Indiana University, where he racked up 1,087 rebounds in 70 games to establish the school record. With 33 rebounds in a victory against Michigan, he still owns the Big Ten Conference record most rebounds in a game. Some may have been surprised when he joined the NBA and established the second-best scoring record as a rookie.
Bellamy was the first Indiana player to win Rookie of the Year after being selected with the No. 1 overall choice in the 1961 NBA Draft. He had the second-best rookie season in NBA history. He has the second-most points and the third-most rebounds. No NBA rookie has ever had a season with more than 973 field goals, and he also topped the league in field goal percentage.
Wilt Chamberlain, No. 1 (Philadelphia Warriors)
Rookie stats: 37.6 points per game, 27.0 rebounds per game, and 2.3 assists per game (1959-60)
After his junior year at Kansas, Chamberlain attempted to enter the NBA, but the NBA would not admit players until their college graduation class was complete. As a result, Chamberlain joined the Harlem Globetrotters in 1958, earning a salary of $449,000 today. Chamberlain was subsequently picked by Philadelphia with a territorial selection, and he had the best rookie season we’ve ever seen.
Chamberlain beat Bob Pettit’s all-time regular-season scoring mark. In compared to Pettit’s 72 games, he just required 56. In the same season, he was voted MVP of the regular season and Rookie of the Year. With a 23-point, 25-rebound effort, he was awarded the All-Star Game MVP to top off his first season. Due to the double and triple teams defenders put against him towards the conclusion of the year, Chamberlain vowed to retire. He eventually obtained a $40,000 increase, which was enough to keep him in the league.
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