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Why Are There So Many Big Games In The NBA?

This week Damian Lillard went off for a highly efficient 60 points for a game that ranks 11th of the best of the last 40 years by Game Score. That is four of the top 11 rated games of the last 40 years just this season. He had 60 points on 21-29 from the floor, 9-15 from three-point range, and 9-10 from the FT line. He also added 7 rebounds, 8 assist,s and 3 steals.

Since 1983-84

1Michael Jordan64.61990-03-28
2Kobe Bryant63.52006-01-22
3Donovan Mitchell60.82023-01-02
4Karl Malone60.21990-01-27
5Damian Lillard57.62023-2-26
6James Harden56.62018-01-30
7Luka Don?i?56.32022-12-27
8Michael Jordan54.71988-04-03
9Devin Booker54.52017-03-24
10Joel Embiid54.42022-11-13
11Kevin McHale54.31985-03-03
12Damian Lillard542023-01-25
13Anthony Davis53.92016-02-21

You aren’t dreaming this up, there are in fact many more big games happening this season, even beyond the most elite of the elite. This season is barely even half over as well, so who knows what will be added to the tally.

We’ve talked about how crazy some of these games have been. There have now been sixteen 50-point games this season already 6th all-time. Overall just as a sports fan it feels similar to the home run boom of the 90s in a way. This is on the up and up though and just a result of the convergence of several aspects. The main being just how efficient offensives and individual players have become.

The stars are logging a few more minutes as well as they have in recent seasons as the overall scoring in the league has continued to increase. Naturally, already an evolution to heliocentric high usage offenses where the ball is put in the best player’s hands leads to scoring or a greater percentage of your team’s scoring as the top player. More minutes mean more individual scoring. I believe as the rest days and load management have been accepted too, players are now given more minutes and can ramp up and be at peak rested performances on certain nights as well.

It’s pretty obvious as there are 6 players averaging over 30ppg currently. LeBron James and Kevin Durant are also within fractions of points as well.

1Joel Embiid34.833.4
2Luka Doncic36.833
3Giannis Antetokounmpo33.531.3
4Jayson Tatum37.331.1
5Shai Gilgeous-Alexander35.630.9
6Damian Lillard35.830.1
7LeBron James36.129.9
8Kevin Durant3629.7

The league could easily have as many as eight 30-point per-game scorers this season. The previous record was in 1961-62……..of five.

Given the pace and minutes, those players played really speaks to how incredibly efficient the players of today are. This depth of scoring exceeds anything we have ever seen before even beyond that.

1Wilt Chamberlain*48.550.4
2Walt Bellamy*42.331.6
3Bob Pettit*42.131.1
4Oscar Robertson*44.330.8
5Jerry West*41.230.8
6Richie Guerin*42.929.5
7Willie Naulls39.725
8Cliff Hagan*36.222.9

This was the biggest individual scoring year ever, and you see where the 7th and 8th highest scorers were. This is on pace to be a historic season, and I don’t see it letting up.

Edit: added Damian Lillard’s 71 point game added 2-26 since written. What a year.

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