All-time NBA top scorers: Scoring champions for every franchise

It takes a long tenure and a ton of bucket-getting to be among the NBA top scorers. Find out which 30 players are the scoring champions for every NBA franchise.

May 31, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in game one of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/pool photo via USA TODAY Sports

This past Monday saw Stephen Curry go off for 53 points against the Denver Nuggets in a game where he became the Golden State Warriors all-time leading scorer. By doing so, he dethroned Wilt Chamberlain, who reigned as the Warriors’ top scorer for over 50 years.

That got us thinking who are the other 29 NBA franchise career scoring leaders? Some of the names are to be expected seeing as they are synonymous with their respective franchise. On the other hand, there may be some names that may be a surprise.

Here we’ll break down each NBA team’s all-time leading scorers.

Atlanta Hawks: Dominique Wilkins (23,292 Points)

Dominique Wilkins not only has the Hawks franchise record in total points, but he also has the highest career scoring average in franchise history at 26.4 points. Wilkins played 15 seasons in the NBA, and a dozen of those were in Atlanta. From the 1984-85 to the 1992-93 campaign, Wilkins averaged over 25 points per game with the Hawks, including the 1985-86 season in which he led the NBA in scoring. In eight of those nine seasons, Wilkins scored over 2,000 points.

Boston Celtics: John Havlicek (26,395 Points)

While most would expect either Paul Pierce or Larry Bird to be the Celtics’ career leading scorer, it is in fact John Havlicek that holds that distinction. Havlicek played his entire 16-year NBA career with the Boston Celtics, winning eight NBA championships with the team and Finals MVP in 1974. Havlicek averaged 20.8 points per contest for his career including eight seasons in a row of 20-plus point averages from 1967 to 1974.

Brooklyn Nets: Brook Lopez (10,444 Points)

At just 10,444, Brook Lopez holds the lowest point total for a career franchise scoring leader. Lopez is just four points ahead of Buck Williams for the record. Lopez played nine seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, averaging 18.6 points in his tenure with the team. This included three seasons in which he averaged 20 points per game or more (averaged 20 points in the 2013-2014 season but only played 17 games).

Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker (12,009 Points)

Kemba Walker isn’t merely the Charlotte Hornets franchise scoring leader. He is the only player in franchise history to score 10,000 points for the team, with the closest to that milestone being Dell Curry (9,839). Walker is also the only player in Hornets franchise history to score at least 50 points in a game doing so on two occasions. In eight seasons with the Hornets, Kemba Walker averaged 19.8 points including averaging 20 points in each of his final four seasons with the team.

Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan (29,277 Points)

All-Time NBA Top Scorers: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
June 14, 1998; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan holds the MVP trophy and coach Phil Jackson holds the championship trophy after the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz to win their 6th NBA title. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

It comes as no surprise that Michael Jordan is the Bulls’ leading scorer, seeing he is widely regarded as the greatest perimeter scorer in NBA history. In fact, he is Chicago’s top point-getter by a wide margin, as second place holder Scottie Pippen trails by over 14,000. In his time with the Bulls, MJ won an unmatched 10 scoring titles, including seven in a row, which is also an NBA record. In addition, he also led the NBA in total points scored 11 times.

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James (23,119 Points)

Like Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, LeBron James is also the Cavaliers’ leading scorer by a wide margin as he is leading by 13,000 points over runner-up Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Although LeBron averaged over 20 points in each season with the Cavs and averaged over 25 points in each season, he only won one scoring title and led the league in total points once.

Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki (31,560 Points)

Dirk Nowitzki holds the NBA record for most season played with a single team. Overall, Nowitzki played 21 seasons in the NBA, putting up 20 points per game 13 times including every year from 2001 to 2012. In addition, he scored over 1,000 points in 16 seasons, including 13 times consecutively from 2000 to 2012. Much of Nowitzki’s scoring came on the low block using his one-legged, fadeaway jumpshot to demoralize opposing defenses.

Denver Nuggets: Alex English (21,645 Points)

Alex English is most known for being the NBA’s leading scorer in the decade of the 1980s. In 11 seasons with the Denver Nuggets, English averaged 25.9 points per game, earning the scoring title in the 1983 season. He led the NBA in total points twice, too. English averaged over 25 points per game in eight consecutive seasons from 1982 to 1989.

Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas (18,822 Points)

While Isiah Thomas was more well-known as a playmaker in his NBA career, he was actually a very good scorer. In his 13-year career, all spent with the Detroit Pistons, Thomas averaged 19.2 points, including five seasons of better than 20 points a night. He is the one of only three players on this list that averaged at least 20 points and 10 assists more than once in a season.

Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry (17,818 Points)

All-Time NBA Top Scorers: Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry
April 12, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As previously mentioned, Stephen Curry dethroned Wilt Chamberlain as the Warriors all-time leading scorer after over 50 years of holding that distinction. Curry is widely regarded as the greatest shooter in NBA history and is on pace to shatter the mark for career 3-pointers. In addition, he has averaged over 20 points in each season since 2012-13 — excluding the 2019-20 season, in which he played just five games.

Houston Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511 Points)

Hakeem Olajuwon is played all but one of his 18 seasons in the NBA with the Houston Rockets. While he is recognized as one of the greatest all-around players and defenders the NBA has ever seen, he was lauded just as much for his scoring. He was most known for his footwork and low post moves famously known as the “Dream Shake.” Olajuwon averaged 20 points in each of his first 13 seasons while averaging double-digit rebounds in his first dozen.

Indiana Pacers: Reggie Miller (25,279 Points)

Prior to Stephen Curry revolutionizing basketball with his long-range prowess, it was Reggie Miller who fans argued to be the greatest shooter in NBA history. The difference between Steph and Reggie, however, is that Steph is a much better scorer by comparison. Reggie Miller played 18 seasons in the NBA, all with the Indiana Pacers, and only averaged over 20 points a game six times, reaching 2,000 points only once in a single season.

Los Angeles Clippers: Randy Smith (12,735 Points)

Although Randy Smith is the Clippers’ top scorer, he only led the team twice in scoring during his eight full seasons (nine total) with the franchise. Playing alongside former MVP Bob McAdoo for most of his Clippers tenure, Smith was the secondary option for the majority of his time with the team. In eight full seasons with the Clippers, Smith averaged 18.7 points, and posted 21.9 points per contest in the latter four seasons.

Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant (33,643 Points)

All-Time NBA Top Scorers: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Mar 8, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; General overall view of the retired Los Angeles Nos. 2 and 28 jerseys of Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant entered the NBA at just 18 years old, and went on to take the league by storm. From 2001 to 2013, Kobe averaged 28.1 points, averaging over 25 points in all but one season. In his legendary career, The Black Mamba was known for erupting for incredible single-night performances. He scored 50 or more points 25 times (third-most ever) and scored 60 points six times (second-most ever). Kobe’s 2005-06 season is the highest-scoring season in the past 30 years.

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley (11,733 Points)

The Memphis Grizzlies have never been known for great scoring, as they only have one player who’s averaged 20 points per game in a career. This makes them the only franchise without multiple players that averaged 20 points during their tenure with the team. Their franchise leading scorer, point guard Mike Conley, is no different, as he averaged 14.9 points in 12 seasons with the Grizzlies. Conley also has played more seasons and games than any player in Grizzlies history.

Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade (21,556 Points)

No Miami Heat player has more than 10,000 points other than Dwyane Wade. He’s widely viewed as being in the conversation as the third-greatest shooting guard in NBA history behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant due in part to leading the Heat to more success than they’d ever seen previously. From 2005 to 2011, Wade averaged 26.6 points, and won the NBA scoring crown in 2009.

Milwaukee Bucks: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (14,211 Points)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may have spent more time and had more success with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he was arguably more dominant as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Kareem played six seasons with the Bucks, averaging 30.4 points and 15.3 rebounds. Kareem holds all the top five highest scoring seasons in Bucks franchise history. While Kareem currently holds the top spot, Giannis Antetokounmpo is on a collision course to pass him, sitting just shy of 3,000 points behind him.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett (19,201 Points)

All-Time NBA Top Scorers: Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett
Jan 17, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett (21) before the game against the Phoenix Suns at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves franchise would not be the same without Kevin Garnett, and has not been the same since he left. All but one of the T-Wolves playoff appearances featured Garnett on their roster. In his nine prime seasons with Minnesota, Garnett averaged 22.4 points, including a 2004 MVP season in which KG led the NBA in total points.

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis (11,059 Points)

Anthony Davis may have had a messy breakup with the New Orleans Pelicans, yet he was dominating every night on the court for them when he was there. While Davis is rightfully praised for his defensive ability, he continued to improve his offensive game, eventually establishing himself as one of the most unstoppable players on that end of the floor. In his seven seasons with New Orleans, he averaged 23.7 points, including holding the two highest-scoring seasons in franchise history.

New York Knicks: Patrick Ewing (23,665 Points)

While most may not place him amongst the greatest centers in NBA history, Patrick Ewing is certain worthy of being in that discussion. He helped the New York Knicks reach heights they hadn’t seen in decades. Although he was mostly known as a great defender, Ewing was no slouch on the offensive end. In his 15 seasons with the Knicks, Ewing averaged 20 points in 12 of those seasons (only played 26 games in 1998 season), highlighted by the 1989-90 campaign, wherein he set the single-season franchise record for total points.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook (18,859 Points)

All-Time NBA Top Scorers: Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook
Mar 3, 2019; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots a three point basket ahead of Memphis Grizzlies center Joakim Noah (55) during second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City won 99-95. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook is the only player to average a triple-double in a season more than once. Prior to that incredible stretch, Kevin Durant was the Thunder’s top player and scorer. Westbrook got his first opportunity to be the No. 1 guy when Durant went down with a Jones fracture, forcing him to miss most of the 2014-15 season. Westbrook would then become the permanent top option when Durant moved on to the Golden State Warriors. From 2015 to when he left OKC in 2019, Westbrook put up 26.3 points a night while averaging a triple-double three times, leading the NBA in total points in 2017.

Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard (11,435 Points)

Before getting traded to the Chicago Bulls, Nikola Vucevic was just 1,000 points away from becoming the Orlando Magic’s all-time leading scorer. Since the trade did happen, Dwight Howard maintains his place as the Orlando Magic’s top scorer. D12 made his name for his defensive ability, famously winning four straight Defensive Player of the Year awards. However, he was a solid scorer in his own right. Howard averaged 18.4 points in his eight seasons with the Magic, with more than 20 points per game in four seasons.

Philadelphia 76ers: Hal Greer (21,586 Points)

Most NBA fans may have rightfully thought that Allen Iverson was the 76ers all-time leading scorer, and have no idea who Hal Greer is. That is understandable, seeing as Greer played for the team from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. He played his entire 15-year career with the franchise and scored 19.2 points per game. Greer is not only their leader in points — he is also the Sixers’ longest-tenured player in games played and total minutes. In addition, he is a member of their 1967 NBA championship team.

Phoenix Suns: Walter Davis (15,666 Points)

Another relatively unknown player, Walter Davis played a pivotal role for the Phoenix Suns throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s. In 11 seasons with Phoenix, Davis averaged 20.5 points, and had 23.1 points per contest in the first three seasons of that span. Rather surprisingly, however, Davis was never the Suns’ leading scorer in any of his first three seasons, outdone only by former All-Star Paul Westphal.

Portland Trail Blazers: Clyde Drexler (18,040 Points)

While Damian Lillard is closing in on the Blazers’ top scoring spot, it is Clyde Drexler that occupies it for the time being. Clyde “The Glide” Drexler played 12 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers from the mid 80s to the mid 90s, averaging 20.8 points in that time. His 1988 and 1989 seasons are still the two highest-scoring seasons in Blazers franchise history.

Sacramento Kings: Oscar Robertson (22,009 Points)

Before Russell Westbrook tore up the NBA with triple-doubles almost every night, Oscar Robertson was doing it in the 1960s as a member of the Cincinnati Royals. Robertson played 10 seasons with the now-Sacramento Kings, scoring over 2,000 points in his first seven en route to 30.4 points per game. He also holds the highest scoring average in Kings franchise history at 29.3.

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan (26,496 Points)

All-Time NBA Top Scorers: San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan
Apr 17, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) shoots the ball past Memphis Grizzlies power forward Chris Andersen (7, behind) during the second half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

When looking at the greatest power forwards in NBA history, Tim Duncan is surely on that list — and arguably at the top. For two decades, Tim Duncan helped the San Antonio Spurs become one of the most accomplished NBA franchises of all-time, winning five NBA championships in six Finals appearances, with 50 wins each season. While the Spurs are looked at as a system under head coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan averaged a double-double in each of his first 13 seasons, with 20-point-per-night scoring clips in his first eight years.

Toronto Raptors: Demar DeRozan (13,296 Points)

Before being traded to the Spurs, Demar DeRozan was helping lead the Raptors in what had been their best run in franchise history to that point. The season prior to DeRozan being traded saw him help lead the Raptors to their best single-season record ever. DeRozan played nine years with the Raptors averaging 19.7 points, with a 24.5-point average over his last three seasons.

Utah Jazz: Karl Malone (36,374 Points)

Alongside John Stockton, Karl Malone took the Utah Jazz franchise to higher ground the team hadn’t seen before, and hasn’t reached since. Malone scored over 2,000 points for 11 straight seasons from 1988 to 1998, playing over 80 games in each season. He holds over a 16,000 point lead over his aforementioned teammate Stockton for the top spot.

Washington Wizards: Elvin Hayes (15,551 Points)

Elvin Hayes is one of only two players listed that did not start his career with his respective franchise (Alex English). Playing his first four seasons with the Rockets, Hayes joined Washington in 1973, and went on to play nine seasons with the team. He averaged 21.3 points and appeared in 80 games or more in each of those years. Currently, Bradley Beal sits at second place, just shy of 3,000 points below Hayes for the top spot.