Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant won his third straight NBA scoring title becoming the eighth player in the league to win three or more scoring titles in their career; he joins Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, George Gervin, Allen Iverson, George Mikan, Neil Johnston and Bob McAdoo. He is also the seventh player to win three straight scoring titles.
With the Thunder still alive in the playoffs, Durant is hoping to join another elite group: those scoring titleholders who won an NBA championship the same season. The last time the scoring leader’s team made it to the NBA Finals was in 2001 when Allen Iverson’s 76ers lost to the L.A. Lakers. The last time the scoring leader’s team won the NBA title was the previous year when Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers.
Only five different players have won a scoring title and championship in the same season (it has, however, happened on 11 different occasions). They are:
Player, Team, Scoring title/championship year
Joe Fulks, Philadelphia, 1947
George Mikan, Minneapolis, 1949
George Mikan, Minneapolis, 1950
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee, 1971
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1991
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1992
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1993
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1996
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1997
Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1998
Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers, 2000
Here’s a few additional stats regarding players who won the NBA scoring title.
* Five scoring leaders saw their team lose in the NBA finals: Chamberlain (1964), Rick Barry (1967), Jerry West (1970), O’Neal (1995) and Iverson (2001).
* Fifty-five of the 65 scoring leaders played in the playoffs that same year.
* The ten seasons in which the scoring leader’s team did not play in the playoffs: Neil Johnston, Philadelphia (1953, 1954, 1955); Chamberlain, San Francisco (1963); Nate Archibald, Kansas City-Omaha (1973); Pete Maravich, New Orleans (1977); Adrian Dantley, Utah (1981); Bernard King, N.Y. Knicks (1985); David Robinson, San Antonio (1994); Tracy McGrady, Orlando (2004).
* The scoring titleholder’s team made it to the final four in 31 of the 65 playoffs.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog that is published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.
Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to score 57 points in the most recent NBA All-Star Game. That was the second-most points in an NBA All-Star Game history by teammates; the Miami duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 60 points in that same game and now hold the record for most combined points by teammates in an NBA All-Star Game. The two pairs became the sixth and seventh teammates to score 50 or more points in an all-star game (see my blog of February 24, 2012 for more on this stat).
Durant and Westbrook are looking to join James and Wade in another elite group. As of games through March 5, Durant is averaging 28.1 points per game and ranks second in scoring in the league. Westbrook is averaging 23.7 points per games and ranks fifth in the league. If Westbrook can bring his average up and over the 25 points per game mark by the end of the season, they would join 15 other sets of teammates to both average 25 or more points per game in a season.
Following are the teammates who both averaged 25 or more points per games in an NBA season.
Year, Team, Teammates (Scoring Average)
2010-11 Miami Heat, LeBron James (26.7) and Dwyane Wade (25.5)
2007-08 Denver Nuggets, Allen Iverson (26.4) and Carmelo Anthony (25.7)
2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal (27.2) and Kobe Bryant (25.2)
2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal (28.7) and Kobe Bryant (28.5)
1986-87 Boston Celtics, Larry Bird (28.1) and Kevin McHale (26.1)
1983-84 Denver Nuggets, Kiki Vandeweghe (29.4) and Alex English (26.4)
1982-82 Denver Nuggets, Alex English (28.4) and Kiki Vandeweghe (26.7)
1972-73 Atlanta Hawks, Lou Hudson (27.1) Pete Maravich (26.1)
1971-71 Los Angeles Lakers, Gail Goodrich (25.9) and Jerry West (25.8)
1966-67 Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West (28.7) and Elgin Baylor (26.6)
1964-65 Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West (31.0) and Elgin Baylor (27.1)
1963-64 Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West (28.7) and Elgin Baylor (25.4)
1961-62 New York Knicks, Richie Guerin (29.5) and Willie Naulls (25.0)
1960-61 Cincinnati Royals, Oscar Robertson (30.5) and Jack Twyman (25.3)
Note #1: Of the 15 pairs listed, three played on title teams (Lakers 1971-72, 2000-01 and 2001-02). Three lost in the NBA finals… Lakers 1964-65; Celtics 1986-87; Heat 2010-11. Only two of the 15 did not make the playoffs that season… Royals 1960-61; Knicks 1961-62.
Note #2: Of the 15 pairs listed, 11 played on teams that had a regular season record better than .500.