Statistically analyzing NBA players is a little tricky sometimes. Do you think about pure accumulation, or about averages? We know Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored the most points in a career, but during a given season we talk about points per game, right? What about when it comes to playoff success? Well, personally, we’re going to look at averages. There are 27 NBA players who have averaged 24 points per game in their postseason careers. That is an impressive, robust number. Who are these playoff performers? Let’s find out!
It feels fitting to start with one of the first stars in NBA history. Mikan comes up enough in these kinds of articles that you probably know all about him. He won five titles in seven seasons and was a force that led the NBA to make changes to their rules. In his first two playoffs, he averaged over 30 points per game, but because he stuck around and even returned from retirement for one season he averaged 24.0 points per game in his playoff career.
It just so happens this list begins with two players who were stars in the ‘50s. Arizin, another Hall of Famer, played his entire career with the Philadelphia Warriors, though he missed two years of his prime service in the Marines during the Korean War. That’s not the kind of thing we’ve heard in the NBA for a while. Arizin’s playoff PPG average was 24.20.
We go from two guys from the 1950s to a modern player who is only in his fifth season. Murray has only played in the postseason two years for the Nuggets, but he’s still played 23 playoff games. As you may recall, Murray was one of the big stars of the NBA bubble. He averaged 26.5 points per game in that postseason, and overall he’s averaged 24.3.
It’s a true surprise that Shaq only won one MVP in his career. However, he also won three Finals MVPs, because he had some great playoff runs. O’Neal had some dominant years, but at the end of his career, he hung around and jumped from team to team in an attempt to win another ring. Over his last three playoff runs – totaling 18 games – he averaged 11.4 points. That dropped his career average to 24.31.
Shaq is a legendary Lakers center. So is Kareem. They are also both known by their first names. What else do they have in common? Well, O’Neal and Abdul-Jabbar both averaged 24.31 PPG in their career. Yet another connection between these two dominant forces who wore purple and gold.
English played for some high-scoring teams for the Denver Nuggets in the ‘80s, even leading the league in points per game once. The bucket-getting forward had a lot of short runs in the playoffs, as the Nuggets didn’t have a ton of postseason success. When they were there, though, English was scoring in droves, and he averaged 24.43 points per contest, mostly with Denver.
King once scored 60 points on Christmas for the Knicks, which made him a legend forever in New York. Of course, it takes you more than one game to make the Hall of Fame as King did. Despite a long career, King actually only ever played in 28 playoff games. One year, though, he carried the Knicks through 12 games by averaging 34.8 points. Overall, he dropped 24.54 points per game.
The Mailman delivered many times over for the Jazz, even occasionally on Sundays. Then, of course, there were his Finals run with the Lakers in his last season as he hoped to win that elusive ring. Those 21 games with LA where he averaged 11.5 points per game didn’t result in a ring, and it also dropped his playoff scoring average to 24.67 points.
This is the second current Denver Nugget on this list. Jokic is a unique player, a mountain of a man not known for being particularly athletic but also known as maybe the best-passing big man of all time. In the playoffs, though, Jokic takes on a bigger scoring role, as he’s averaged 24.73 points per game over two playoff runs.
Barry is more than the guy who shot free throws underhand. He was a prolific scorer and a six-time All-NBA player, and we aren’t even talking about his ABA career here. Barry probably wishes we were including the ABA numbers because he averaged 33.5 points per game in that league. However, Barry did just fine in the NBA, averaging 24.77 points per postseason contest there.
It’s always Dame Time when Lillard is on the court. The sharpshooting scorer has led the Trail Blazers to many big moments in his career. Paul George can tell you all about that. Lillard’s limitless range has helped him average 24.78 points per game in his playoff career.
Lillard and Westbrook are both active, but they are decidedly different players. Westbrook can’t shoot threes, but he can attack the basket with ferocity when he isn’t dishing out assists or grabbing boards in the quest of a triple-double. Russ has moved from team to team over the years, in spite of his prodigious talent, and currently, he’s managed 24.83 points per contest.
Dirk is the greatest player in Mavericks history, winning an MVP with them and leading them to their only NBA title. Nowitzki helped change the NBA by getting teams excited about guys with center height but the shooting range of a guard. You can probably blame Darko Milicic going second on Dirk’s success. That success included averaging 25.26 points per game, the first player on this list to average over 25 PPG.
Nique never led the Atlanta Hawks to the NBA Finals, but he averaged 26.4 PPG in eight playoffs with the Hawks. He then actually played five postseason games at the end of his career with the Celtics and the Magic, though he played all of three minutes as a 39-year-old for Orlando. That didn’t hurt his career postseason scoring average too much, as he averaged 25.41 points as a Hall of Famer.
Pettit is another of those guys from the ‘50s who dominated the early days of basketball and shows up on a lot of lists. If you like sports trivia, Pettit is one of those names you want to remember. The Hall of Famer won two MVPs and had some lengthy trips into the playoffs. Hey, there were only a handful of teams back then. Pettit’s career PPG in the playoffs is 25.45.
Kobe wasn’t afraid to gun for buckets. That was true when he was playing alongside Shaq, and it was true when he was the true lead dog in the Pau Gasol days. The late Laker had some massive scoring outputs in the playoffs, which helped him averaged 25.64 points across his many trips to the postseason.
“The Dream” really benefited from Michael Jordan’s retirement. His Rockets won the title in the year Jordan didn’t play and the year when he joined the Bulls midstream. Olajuwon led the NBA in scoring in those two playoffs and won the Finals MVP both times. The center averaged 25.90 points per game.
Curry has changed basketball with his range and elite shooting. He won a title before Kevin Durant and he won more once he joined. Curry is always a threat to go for 40 or 50 points with his three-point shooting. He’s the first player on this list with over 26 points per game in the playoffs at 26.50, but he’s still active and will likely get opportunities to improve on that.
Gervin was with the Spurs in the ABA and then moved with the team to the NBA. Four times in his career he led the league in points per game in San Antonio, and he did plenty of scoring in the playoffs as well. “The Iceman” led the league in postseason PPG five times, and he fell just short of 27 points per contest with 26.98.
Baylor passed away in 2021, giving the Hall of Famer the plaudits he long deserved. He once averaged 38.3 PPG in a season! He’s third in career points per game in the regular season and eighth in the postseason, where he averaged 27.04 points.
We go from a guy who began his career in the ‘50s to a modern player. Mitchell has played in three postseasons and in the bubble he was incredible. Over seven games he averaged a staggering 36.3 points per contest. Of course, those seven games are out of 23 playoff contests. All in all, he’s averaged 27.35 so far.
Davis only made the playoffs twice as a Pelican, and he only played in 13 playoff games. However, he averaged over 30 points in those outings. With the Lakers, he had to share the load with LeBron, but he won a ring and played 21 playoff games, so it was all worth it we’re sure. AD has averaged 28.79 PPG, and he’s still in his prime playing for a Lakers squad with championship goals.
Speaking of LeBron, he opens the top five of this list. LeBron has carried the Cavaliers deep into the playoffs on his shoulders. He’s won rings with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on the Heat. Now he’s with the Lakers and has another title. LeBron is just above his teammate Davis on this list with a 28.81 points-per-game average.
This is the last active player on this list. Durant is one of the best, purest scorers in NBA history. He’s carried the Thunder and rode along with the Warriors. Now, Durant is with the Nets, having joined forces with Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Will KD end up seeing his career average (29.09) drop because he has to share the ball with two teammates who can get buckets? We shall see.
West is another Lakers legend and a player who could both score and play defense. He was All-NBA 12 times and All-Defense five times. Also, he’s the only player to be named Finals MVP in a losing effort. Hey, he did average 40.6 points over one playoff run. All in all, he averaged 29.13 points per contest in the playoffs.
Despite his size, Iverson was an unstoppable scorer. He led the NBA in scoring four times, winning one MVP award. He’s the only player in the top five to not have a ring, but he scored a ton of points in the playoffs as well. Iverson averaged over 30 points per game in the playoffs with the 76ers, but when you add in two seasons with the Nuggets his career average falls to 29.73.
Who else was it going to be? Jordan won six rings, and he did it while scoring a ton of points. Jordan actually dwarfs the competition when it comes to getting buckets in the postseason. His career average is all the way at 33.45. That’s almost four more points than Iverson in second! Clearly, when the games mattered more, nobody could get it done like MJ.