When LeBron James hit the 20,000 point milestone back in 2013, he became the youngest to do so, but does youngest mean he was also the fastest NBA player to score 20,000 points?
The short answer is: No. Not when measuring speed by games played as the marker of “fastest” that takes out the variable factors of a players’ birthdays not to mention when a player enters the league whether from high school, after their Freshman year or stayed all four years in college.
There’s a marked difference between youngest and fastest when it comes to reaching scoring milestones. That’s not to say youngest isn’t impressive, they’re just different.
NBA players fastest to 20,000 points
Here’s the complete list of the 40+ NBA players that have scored 20,000 points in their NBA careers. The list is sorted by how many games they needed to reach the twenty-thousand point barrier with the exact dates they hit that mark (when available*), and how many seasons it took.
|1||Wilt Chamberlain||499||1965-66 season||7th||more>|
|3||Oscar Robertson||671||1968-69 season||9th||more>|
|4||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||684||1976-77 season||9th||more>|
|5||Elgin Baylor||711||1968-69 season||11th||more>|
|24||Elvin Hayes||~840||1978-79 season||10th||more>|
|34||John Havlicek||915||1973-74 season||12th||more>|
|39||Walt Bellamy||971||1973-74 season||13th||more>|
|40||Hal Greer||981||1970-71 season||13th||more>|
No surprise that Wilt Chamberlain heads this list. With his otherworldly scoring averages, Wilt was the only player to net 20,000 points in 7 seasons (499 games). The next fastest to 20,000 was Michael Jordan, but he needed 9 seasons and 620 games, a full 121 games more than Chamberlain.
This list is as much a showcase of some of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, players such as Wilt, Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Allen Iverson, as it is to those players that consistently put up solid numbers year after year.
Next up? Tony Parker is 2000+ away from 20,000, but with a declining role in San Antonio and Kevin Durant right behind him, look for Durant to leap frog Parker and hit the milestone sometime in early 2017-18.
Players like Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, and Robert Parish made this list in large part to the longevity of their careers. Parish, for example, never averaged more than 19.9 points per game, but the “Chief” methodically dropped in 20,000 points after 16 seasons and 1215 games.
Miller and Payton only averaged more than 24 points in one season during their careers. Otherwise, they were rarely injured, allowing them to put up all-star numbers seasons after season.
With so many NBA superstars that have passed through the league in the last several decades, this elite club is surprisingly small. Tom Chambers and Vince Carter make the list and Antwan Jamison will likely join them later this year or next, while Hall of Fame players like Isiah Thomas, Dr. J, Kevin McHale, Scottie Pippen, Rick Barry, John Stockton, and James Worthy missed the cut?
It’s really a tribute to the players on the list.
* For players from 1970’s and before, individual box scores weren’t available and exact data was difficult to come by, but I was able to approximate the game in which they hit the milestone by using their season’s scoring average. See anything off? Have some tips? Please contact me.