The NBA is the most superstar driven major sports league, so it’s no surprise that the greatest superstars have delivered some of the most memorable single-season performances in sports history. Here are the top 20 individual seasons in NBA history.
Players are primarily ranked based on regular season statistical performance, but dominant play resulting in a championship will be given greater weight.
20. Giannis Antetokounmpo – 2019-20
Stats – 29.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.6 APG, 31.9 PER, 11.1 WS.
The most recent entry on the list. With an NBA record 31.9 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Giannis captured his second straight NBA MVP. He also became only the third player to win the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
19. Kevin Durant – 2013-14
Stats – 32 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 5.5 APG, 29.8 PER, 19.2 WS.
Due to his recent injuries, it can be easy to forget how dominant a scorer Kevin Durant is. With Russell Westbrook sidelined for much of the season, KD had the best year of his career, winning his fourth scoring title and being named MVP en route to a Conference Finals appearance. His 19.2 Win Shares were the second highest of the decade.
18. Allen Iverson – 2000-01
Stats – 31.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.5 SPG, 24 PER, 11.8 WS.
Allen Iverson remains the shortest and lightest player to ever win MVP. In just his fifth season, Iverson won his second of four scoring titles, led the league in steals, and took his team to the NBA finals. Despite a dominant game one performance in which he scored 48 points in a 107-101 win, the 76ers lost to the Lakers in five games.
17. LeBron James – 2008-09
Stats – 28.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.2 APG, 31.7 PER, 20.3 WS.
Leading his team in every major statistical category, LeBron led the Cavaliers to a 66-16 record and the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron would be named MVP and First Team all-defense for the first time in his career. His 20.3 win shares are the highest mark by any player since Michael Jordan in 1996.
16. Steph Curry – 2016-17
Stats – 30.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 6.7 APG, 2.1 SPG, 31.5 PER, 17.9 WS.
The greatest shooting season ever. Although they failed to win the NBA finals, the Warriors posted an NBA record 73-9 season. Steph Curry led the league in points, steals, PER, and win shares. He also set the record with 402 3-point shots in one season. For his efforts Curry became the first ever unanimous MVP.
15. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 1971-72
Stats – 34.8 PPG, 16.6 RPG, 4.6 APG, 29.9 PER, 25.4 WS.
In just his third season the NBA’s all-time leading scorer played his best statistical season. He set a career high in points and was named MVP. His 25.4 Win Shares remains an NBA record.
14. Wilt Chamberlain – 1963-64
Stats – 36.9 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 5 APG, 31.6 PER, 25 WS.
The greatest scorer ever, Chamberlain played one of the best seasons of his career, winning his fifth consecutive scoring title and leading his team to the NBA finals. His 25 Win Shares were a career high.
13. Oscar Robertson – 1963-64
Stats – 31.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 11 APG, 27.6 PER, 20.6 WS
The master of the triple-double barely missed out on averaging a triple double for the second time in his career. Still, Oscar Robertson set a career high in points, PER, and win shares. For his efforts, Robertson was named the MVP, the only player to win the award other than Chamberlain and Bill Russell from 1960 to 1968.
12. Tim Duncan – 2003-04
Stats – 23.3 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.9 BPG, 26.9 PER, 16.5 WS
Perhaps the best player of the 2000s, Duncan won his second straight MVP, setting career highs in rebounds, blocks, and win shares. More importantly, he led his team a championship. In the Finals, Duncan averaged 24.2 PPG, and 17 RPG, winning his second Finals MVP.
11. Magic Johnson – 1986-87
Stats – 23.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 12.2 APG, 27 PER, 15.9 WS
The greatest season by the greatest point guard ever. Magic Johnson set career highs in points and PER, while leading the league in assists. He guided the Lakers to a 65-17 record and the NBA finals, which they won in six games. Magic won his third finals MVP, averaging 26.2 PPG, 8 RPG, and 13 APG.
10. LeBron James – 2012-13
Stats – 26.8 PPG, 8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 31.6 PER, 19.3 WS
Coming off of his first championship, LeBron James played his greatest season in 2012-13. He led the league in PER and win shares while guiding his team to a 66-16 record that included a 27 game winning streak. In the playoffs, James led his team to a second consecutive championship, defeating the Spurs in 7 games. After a 37 point performance in game 7, LeBron would win his second consecutive Finals MVP.
9. Michael Jordan – 1987-88
Stats – 35 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 3.2 SPG, 31.7 PER, 21.2 WS.
Michael Jordan captured his second consecutive scoring title and became the first player to ever win the scoring title, MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Although he failed to secure a title, it remains one of his most impressive statistical seasons.
8. Wilt Chamberlain – 1961-62
Stats – 50.4 PPG, 25.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 31.7 PER, 23.1 WS, 48.5 MP.
50 points per game. In just his third year in the league, Chamberlain played the greatest statistical season in NBA history. Chamberlain led the league in points, rebounds, PER, and win shares. He also set a record with 100 points in a single game. Due to overtime, he averaged more minutes played than a regulation basketball game.
7. Wilt Chamberlain – 1966-67
Stats – 24.1 PPG, 24.2 RPG, 7.8 APG, 26.5 PER, 21.9 WS
Although his numbers were not as gaudy as in earlier seasons, Chamberlain led a much more effective team in 1966-67. Averaging more rebounds than points, and the highest assist total in his career up to that point, Chamberlain led his team to a title for the first time in his career. With an absurd .683 field goal percentage, Chamberlain was named MVP for the third time in his career.
6. Michael Jordan – 1995-96
Stats – 30.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.3 APG, 29.4 PER, 20.4 WS
In his first full year back from retirement Jordan proved that he was still the best player in the NBA. He won his eighth scoring title, and had a league high 20.4 win shares. The Bulls coasted to a then record 72 wins, and won the NBA championship for the fourth time in Jordan’s career.
5. Michael Jordan – 1990-91
Stats – 31.5 PPG, 6 RPG, 5.5 APG, 31.6 PER, 20.3 WS
Statistically, the 1990-91 season was on par with what Jordan had done the previous four years. He won another scoring title and was named MVP and first-team all-defense. However, Jordan led his team to the NBA championship for the first time, averaging 31.2 PPG, 11.4 APG, and 6.6 RPG. He was named the finals MVP for the first of six times.
4. Hakeem Olajuwon – 1993-94
Stats – 27.3 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 25.3 PER, 14.3 WS.
No one benefitted more from Michael Jordan’s absence than Hakeem Olajuwon. Already established as one of the best players in the league, he played his best season in 1993-94. He became only the second player to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. In the playoffs, he led his team to a championship victory, winning Finals MVP. He remains the only player to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP in the same season.
3. Shaquille O’Neal – 1999-00
Stats – 29.7 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 30.6 PER, 18.6 WS.
Arguably the most offensively dominant center ever, Shaq turned in his best season in 1999-00. He led the league in PPG, PER, and win shares, and was named the league MVP while guiding the Lakers to the first of three consecutive championships. In the Finals, Shaq averaged 38 points and 16.7 rebounds in the NBA Finals, and was awarded his first of three consecutive Finals MVPs.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 1971-72
Stats – 31.7 PPG, 16 RPG, 3.3 APG, 29 PER, 22.3 WS.
In just his second season in the league, Kareem proved that he was the best player in the NBA by carrying his team to a 66-16 record and an NBA Finals victory. For leading the league in PPG, PER, and Win Shares he was named League MVP. In the Finals, Kareem averaged 27 points and 18.5 rebounds, and was named Finals MVP.
1. Michael Jordan – 1991-92
Stats – 30.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 6.1 APG, 27.7 PER, 17.7 WS.
The year after winning his first championship Michael Jordan made everything look easy. The Bulls cruised to a 67-15 record. Jordan won his sixth scoring title, and third MVP. In the Finals Jordan averaged 35.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists, winning his second Finals MVP. To top everything off, Jordan would then lead the United States Basketball team to a gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics, completing the greatest individual year of basketball ever played.
John Holloway is an obsessive fan of the Chicago Bulls. He attended California Baptist University in Southern California where he studied Political Science. When he’s not obsessing over sports, John enjoys reading and spending time with his partner at home.