Over the last 75 years, approximately 4,500 different NBA players have stepped foot on the court for at least one game. But the following 30 hold their own special place in history as each is the all-time leading scorer for the 30 NBA franchises currently in existence. I’d venture to say that the vast majority of the entries below won’t be a shock. I mean, it’s not going to surprise anyone that Michael Jordan is the all-time leading scorer for the Chicago Bulls, right? Or that Karl Malone is the all-time leading scorer for the Utah Jazz or that Patrick Ewing is the all-time leading scorer for the New York Knicks. But there are a few surprises in here.
So let’s get to it. Actually, before we do that, it should be noted that we’re only taking regular-season points into account here. Okay, now we can go.
Atlanta Hawks: Dominique Wilkins
With 23,292 points, Dominique Wilkins is the all-time leading scorer for the Hawks, who have been located in Buffalo, Moline (IL), St. Louis, and, of course, Atlanta. Wilkins appeared in 882 games for the Hawks from 1982 to 1994, also a franchise record, and also holds the team record for scoring average at 26.4 points per game.
Boston Celtics: John Havlicek
While some may have guessed Bill Russell or Larry Bird, John Havlicek is the Boston Celtics’ all-time leading scorer. Havlicek played his entire 16-year NBA career in Beantown and racked up 26,395 points in 1,270 games. Surprisingly, Isaiah Thomas holds the franchise record for scoring average at 24.7 points per game.
Brooklyn Nets: Brook Lopez
By a margin of only four points, Brook Lopez is the all-time leading scorer for the Nets franchise with 10,444 points. The team’s all-time leader in games played, Buck Williams, is second with 10,440. Rick Barry, who spent just two seasons with the team while still in the ABA, is the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring average at 30.6 points per game.
Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker
The history of the Charlotte Hornets is a little tricky. To simplify things, Hornets records do not include any of the seasons they played in New Orleans or Oklahoma City as those belong to the Pelicans. So we’re looking at 1988 to the end of the 2001-02 NBA season and 2004, when they came back as the Bobcats (the team reverted to the Hornets in 2014), until now. Kemba Walker is the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer with 12,009 points, while Glen Rice is the franchise leader in scoring average at 23.5 points per game.
Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan
Again, no shock here as Michael Jordan is the all-time leading scorer for the Chicago Bulls with 29,277 points, nearly double the amount of Scottie Pippen, who sits in second place with 15,123. Jordan is obviously also the franchise leader in scoring average at 31.5 points per game.
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James
Another non-shocking entry on the list, LeBron James is the all-time leading scorer for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it’s not even close. In 849 games for the Cavs, LeBron scored 23,119 points. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is second with 10,616. James is also the franchise leader in scoring average at 27.2 points per game.
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
Yet another obvious entry on the list is Dirk Nowitzki, who played his entire 21-year NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks and scored 31,560 points, the sixth-most in NBA history. Luka Doncic is currently the Mavs’ all-time leader in scoring average at 26.4 points per game. Nowitzki ranks third in that category at 20.7.
Denver Nuggets: Alex English
One of the most prolific (and underrated) scorers of his era (and maybe all-time), Alex English is the Denver Nuggets‘ franchise leader in both total points (21,645) and scoring average (25.9).
Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas, who spent his entire 13-year NBA career with the Detroit Pistons, is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 18,822 points. His backcourt running mate, Joe Dumars, sits in second with 16,401. Bob Lanier, who is third in total points, leads the franchise in scoring average at 22.7 points per game.
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry
The all-time leading scorer for the Warriors, who played 16 seasons in Philadelphia before moving to the Bay Area, is none other than Stephen Curry, who will obviously continue to add to his total for the foreseeable future. Wilt Chamberlain held the record for decades with 17,783 points but was passed by Curry in April 2021. Through the 2021-22 NBA season, Curry has scored 20,064 points. Chamberlain still holds (and likely always will) the franchise record for scoring average at 41.5 points per game.
Houston Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the all-time leading scorer for the Houston Rockets is Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, who was taken with the top pick in the famed 1984 NBA Draft. Olajuwon played 17 of his 18 NBA seasons in Houston, leading the Rockets to two titles, and scored 26,511 points in 1,177 regular-season games. James Harden, who is second in total points scored, is the franchise leader in scoring average at 29.6 points per game.
Indiana Pacers: Reggie Miller
The owner of just about every single offensive record in franchise history, Reggie Miller easily has the most points in Indiana Pacers history with 25,279, nearly double the amount of the man in second place, underrated center Rik Smits. At 20.6 points per game, Victor Oladipo is the Pacers’ all-time leader in scoring average.
Los Angeles Clippers: Randy Smith
While Randy Smith never played for the Los Angeles version of the Clippers, the two-time NBA All-Star is the franchise leader in career points with 12,735. Smith played eight seasons with the franchise, seven as a member of the Buffalo Braves and one in a San Diego Clippers uniform. World B. Free is the franchise leader in career scoring average at 29.4 points per game.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
The late, great Kobe Bryant leads the way in career points for the Los Angeles Lakers with 33,643, the fourth-most in NBA history. Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers and is also the franchise leader in regular-season games played with 1,346. Elgin Baylor is the franchise leader in scoring average at 27.4 points per game.
Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley
In one of the closest margins between the top two, Mike Conley is the all-time leader in points scored for the Memphis Grizzlies with 11,733, just 49 better than Marc Gasol. Conley, however, doesn’t even crack the top 10 in scoring average at 14.9. Ja Morant leads in that category at 21.2 points per game.
Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade
Certainly no surprise here. In a record 948 games with the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade scored 21,556 points, more than double the amount of second-place Alonzo Mourning, who tallied 9,459 points in 593 games. However, Wade is only second as it pertains to scoring average at 22.7 points per game. His good pal LeBron James leads the way in that category at 26.9.
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo
For decades, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time scoring leader for the Bucks. Still in the top spot in scoring average at 30.4 points per game, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer racked up 14,211 of his 38,387 career points in a Bucks uniform. But Giannis Antetokounmpo has now taken over the top spot in total points. The two-time MVP has scored 14,321 points through the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett
Easily the best player in franchise history and arguably one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history, Kevin Garnett is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ all-time leading scorer with 19,201 points. KG also holds the franchise records for games played, minutes played, field goals, rebounds, assists, steals, and many more. However, he’s just fifth in scoring average at 19.8 points per game. Karl-Anthony Towns, now second in points scored, leads the way in scoring average at 23.2 points per game.
New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis
As we somewhat alluded to earlier during our brief look at the history of the Charlotte Hornets, the history of the New Orleans Pelicans gets a little tricky. The Pelicans are actually the original Charlotte Hornets but don’t own the records/stats from 1988 to the end of the 2001-02 NBA season, which they gave to the current version. However, they own the Hornets’ records from the beginning of the 2002-03 campaign to the end of the 2012-13 season, which is when they became the Pelicans. Anthony Davis is currently the franchise’s all-time leading scorer as he tallied 11,059 points in seven seasons in The Big Easy.
New York Knicks: Patrick Ewing
One of seven players in New York Knicks history to score more than 10,000 points but the only one with more than 15,000, 11-time NBA All-Star center Patrick Ewing leads the way in The Big Apple with 23,665 points in 1,039 games, also a Knicks record. At 22.8 points per game, Ewing is fourth in scoring average behind Bob McAdoo (26.7), Bernard King (26.5), and Carmelo Anthony (24.7).
Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook
What one has to remember about the Oklahoma City Thunder is that they were once the Seattle Supersonics, which is why Gary Payton owns the franchise record for games played with 999. However, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Russell Westbrook, never wore the green and yellow of the Sonics as his rookie year was the first year the team played under the Thunder moniker. In 11 seasons in OKC, Westbrook scored 18,859 points. Kevin Durant, who’s third in total points behind Westbrook and Payton, holds the record for scoring average at 27.4 points per game.
Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard
Only three players in Orlando Magic history have scored more than 10,000 points, and, no, Shaquille O’Neal isn’t one of them. But his nemesis, Dwight Howard, is and leads the way with 11,435 points. The franchise’s first-ever draft pick, Nick Anderson, sits in second with 10,650. Tracy McGrady tops the list for scoring average at 28.1 points per game.
Philadelphia 76ers: Hal Greer
One of eight legendary players to score more than 10,000 points for the Philadelphia 76ers, Hal Greer leads the way for this historic franchise with 21,586 points in a record 1,122 games. Allen Iverson, who is tied with Wilt Chamberlain atop the scoring average list at 27.6 points per game, sits in second in total points scored with 19,931.
Phoenix Suns: Walter Davis
The average NBA fan may not know much (or anything) about Walter Davis, but the North Carolina native and former Tar Heel was a six-time All-Star in 11 seasons with the Phoenix Suns and is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 15,666 points. Charlie Scott sits atop the list for scoring average at 24.8 points per game. Devin Booker is now in second at 23.5, while Charles Barkley is third on that list at 23.4.
Portland Trail Blazers: Clyde Drexler
If Damian Lillard ends up staying with the Portland Trail Blazers, he’ll end his career as the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, but that honor currently (and obviously) belongs to Clyde Drexler, who played parts of a dozen seasons in The City of Roses. Drexler, who twice led Portland to the NBA Finals, scored 18,040 points and averaged 20.8 points per game. Through the 2021-22 season, Lillard leads the way in scoring average at 24.6 points per game and has scored 17,510 points, good for second behind “The Glide.”
Sacramento Kings: Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson may have never worn a Kings uniform (Sacramento, Kansas City, or Kansas City-Omaha), but he’s still the all-time scoring leader for the franchise as he tallied 22,009 points over the course of 10 seasons when the team was known as the Cincinnati Royals. “The Big O” is also the franchise leader in scoring average at 29.3 points per game.
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan
As he played all 19 of his NBA seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that Tim Duncan is the franchise’s all-time leader in points. “The Big Fundamental” scored 26,496 points over the course of his career and is one of three Spurs to hit the 20,000-point mark, the other two being George Gervin (23,602) and David Robinson (20,790). Gervin leads the way in scoring average at 26.3 points per game.
Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan
Had Kyle Lowry chosen to stay north of the border for a few more seasons, he likely would have become the all-time leading scorer for the Toronto Raptors. But as he chose to take his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2021, his longtime teammate, DeMar DeRozan will remain atop the list for the foreseeable future.
DeRozan, who played the first nine seasons of his NBA career in Toronto before being traded to the Spurs in the deal that brought Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Canada, scored 13,296 points in 675 games with the Raptors. Vince Carter leads the way in scoring average at 23.4 points per game.
Utah Jazz: Karl Malone
One of just two players in franchise history to play at least 1,000 games with the Utah Jazz (the other obviously being John Stockton), Karl Malone is easily the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. With 36,374 points, “The Mailman,” who is currently in third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, holds the league record for the most points scored with one team. Adrian Dantley leads the way in scoring average with 29.6 points per game. Malone is second at 25.4.
Washington Wizards: Elvin Hayes
Last and certainly not least, we’ve got the Washington Wizards, who were once known as the Bullets (Washington, Capital, and Baltimore). And we have to go back to those Bullets days for the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Elvin Hayes. “The Big E” played nine seasons for the Bullets from 1972 to 1981 and racked up 15,551 points in 731 games. Walt Bellamy leads the way in scoring average at 27.6 points per game.
And there you have it.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference