The 7 Highest Scoring NBA Players of All Time

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According to recent research on US sports stream trends, basketball is one of the most streamed sports in America as fans are tuned in to watch the highest scoring NBA players in the game. That’s no surprise considering how many incredible stars the Association has produced! With the 2022-23 season on the horizon, one of the biggest storylines is if/when LeBron James will pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points of all-time, making it a great time to look at the highest-scoring players ever. 

Here are the 7 highest scoring players in NBA history:

Kareem Abdul Jabbar highest scorers nba reference
Via Basketball Reference

Points Scored (PTS): 38,387

Field Goal Percentage (FG%): 55.9

Years in the NBA: 30, 1969 to 1989

Height: 7’2” (2.18 m)


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played center for the Milwaukee Bucks and, later, the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar is currently the NBA’s all-time leading scorer despite retiring in 1989. He is the highest-scoring player to date, and his field goal success rate is higher than all the other high-scoring players on this list thanks to his signature sky hook shot that was one of the most unguardable moves ever.

LeBron James nba reference highest scoring
Via Basketball Reference

Points Scored (PTS): 37,062^

Field Goal Percentage (FG%): 50.5

Years in the NBA: 19, 2003 to present

Height: 6’9” (2.06 m) 

The Small Forward has had an illustrious career that spans 18 seasons and three teams (the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and now the LA Lakers). In his time in the league, James has won four NBA Champion titles and eight most-valuable player (MVP) titles, four of which are Final MVP awards. The most impressive accomplishment of his career is when he inevitably tops this list, possibly as soon as the 2022-23 NBA season. 

Karl Malone nba reference utah jazz highest scoring
Via Basketball Reference

Points Scored (PTS): 36,928

Field Goal Percentage (FG%): 51.6

Years in the NBA: 19, 1985 to 2004

Height: 6’9” (2.06 m)


Widely considered the most incredible Power Forward of all time, Malone was an All-Star 14 times and won two MVP awards. Malone played most of his career alongside John Stockton on the Utah Jazz and also had one season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. A high-scorer with a reliable shot, Malone made the All-NBA First Team four years in a row and generated a large majority of his buckets from pick-and-rolls with Stockton and from the free throw line.

Kobe Bryant lakers nba reference highest scorers
Via Basketball Reference

Points Scored (PTS): 33,643

Field Goal Percentage (FG%): 44.7

Years in the NBA: 20, 1996 to 2016

Height: 6’6” (1.98 m)


Kobe Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons, the first guard in history to do so. He was also ranked in the top-3 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list at the time of his retirement in 2016. Drafted 13th overall by the Hornets, Bryant was traded to Los Angeles after selection in one of the most infamous deals ever. The Olympic gold-winner scored impressive points and was known for his distinctive fadeaway shot that opposing players couldn’t stop.

michael jordan nba reference basketball highest scoring
Via Basketball Reference

Points Scored (PTS): 32,292

Field Goal Percentage (FG%): 49.7

Years in the NBA: 17, 1984 to 1998, and 2001 to 2003

Height: 6’6” (1.98 m)

In a single game against the Boston Celtics in 1986, Jordan scored 63 points — the most for any player in an NBA Playoffs game. Now the principal owner of the Hornets, Jordan’s career was spent playing Shooting Guard for the Bulls and the Wizards, with a brief interlude spent as a minor league baseball player. There’s no question MJ was the most dominant non-post scorer the game has ever seen and if he didn’t five prime, he’d likely be the only player in the 40,000 points club.

Dirk Nowitzki mavericks nba reference basketball highest scoring
Via Basketball Reference


Points Scored (PTS): 31560

Field Goal Percentage (FG%): 47.1

Years in the NBA: 21, 1998 to 2019

Height: 7’0” (2.13 m)

Born in Wurzburg, Germany, Dirk Nowitzki was first drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the ninth overall pick in 1999 but was later traded to the Dallas Mavericks, where he spent his entire career. A 14-time All-Star, the greatest shooting Power Forward also picked up a MVP title and won one of the most impressive Championships any player has when he helped defeat the Miami Heat’s “Big 3” in 2011 as the sole All-Star on his team.

Wilt Chamberlain nba basketball reference lakers highest scoring warriors
Via Basketball Reference

Points Scored (PTS): 31,419

Field Goal Percentage (FG%): 54.0

Years in the NBA: 15, 1958 to 1973 

Height: 7’1” (2.16 m)

Basketball legend Wilt ‘the stilt’ Chamberlain played Center for three different teams during his NBA career: Philadelphia (later San Francisco Warriors), the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Chamberlain is an inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame and was named one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA in 1996. Nobody dominated their era from a scoring standpoint like Wilt who’s famous for dropping the most points (100) in a game ever, with nobody else even close (Bryant has the 2nd most with 81).

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