The top five NBA records that are unlikely to be broken

The NBA has a host of players who have achieved astronomical records, with Wilt Chamberlain possessing his fair share of them.

Along with Chamberlain, though, Michael Jordan and John Stockton among others have some of the league’s most insurmountable records.

As the saying goes: records are meant to be broken. But these ones are unlikely to be broken as the NBA’s storied history continues.

1. Wilt Chamberlain averaging 50.4 points per game in a season

Chamberlain was clearly a different kind of player with the way he was putting up numbers.

A Hall of Famer, Chamberlain has the highest single-season points per game average (50.4) in league history. He accomplished the feat during the 1961-62 season, his third year in the league. During the historic campaign, Chamberlain scored 50-plus points in 45 games, which included his record 100-point performance.

Elgin Baylor was a four-year player that season and was second in the league behind Chamberlain, averaging 38.3 points — the highest average of his career.

No one has even come close to challenging Chamberlain’s record in recent memory. Last season, Houston Rockets star James Harden averaged a career-high 36.1 points per game.

Chamberlain’s record is unlikely to be broken because no one will be able to take the amount of shots necessary to average such a gaudy number of points.

Chamberlain averaged 39.5 field goals a game during that historic season. Harden, one of the league’s top scorers, averaged 24.5 field goals during the 2018-19 season.

2. Chamberlain grabbing 27.2 rebounds per game in a season

Chamberlain’s legacy has endured because of his elite scoring and rebounding ability.

According to NBA.com stats, he’s one of five players who’s ranked top 10 all-time in points and rebounds. The others are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Moses Malone and Elvin Hayes.

During the 1960-61 season, his second year in the NBA, Chamberlain showed why he’d be one of the best rebounders ever. He averaged 27.2 rebounds a game, which still stands as the highest single-season average in league history. That season, Chamberlain grabbed 30-plus rebounds in 23 games, per Basketball Reference. 

Chamberlain was such a good rebounder that he has six of the 10 highest single-season rebounding averages, with Bill Russell having the other four, per Basketball Reference. 

Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond has one of the highest averages in recent times.

During the 2017-18 season, Drummond grabbed a career-high 16.0 rebounds a game for the Detroit Pistons. Before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, he was averaging 15.2 rebounds.

3. Michael Jordan’s 63-point performance in the 1986 playoffs

Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls are back in the spotlight, with “The Last Dance” capturing the attention of the nation the past few Sundays.

One segment of a recent episode showcased one of Jordan’s best games: his 63-point outburst against the Boston Celtics in 1986. The performance remains as the most points scored in a playoff game.

Jordan and the Bulls lost the series, but His Airness got any shot he wanted that night. He shot midrange jumpers and took the Celtics to the rim as he shot 53.7% from the field.

What made Jordan’s performance even more special was that he didn’t take any threes to accomplish the feat.

Jordan’s record could be shattered, but it would require a substantial effort.

Former Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas came close in May 2017. He poured in 53 points on the day of his late sister’s birthday and led the Celtics to a 129-119 win in overtime against the Washington Wizards.

4. John Stockton averaging 14.5 assists in one season

Stockton never won any championships during his 19 NBA seasons, but because of his passing prowess, he is one of the league’s top point guards ever.

Stockton led the league in assists per game nine times, and his best season distributing the ball was the 1989-90 campaign.

He averaged a career-high 14.5 assists, and that number still stands as the highest single-season average in league history. As the league’s all-time leader in assists, Stockton has five of the 10 highest assists averages in NBA history.

During his historic season, Stockton tallied 15 or more assists in 42 games, per Basketball Reference. 

Chris Paul, Trae Young, Ben Simmons, LeBron James and Luka Doncic are the premier floor generals in today’s game, but it’d be hard to see even one of them break Stockton’s record.

Paul has the highest career average among this group, averaging 11.6 assists during the 2007-08 season. He only had 15 or more assists in 19 games that season, per Basketball Reference. 

5. Alvin Robertson’s single season steals per game average

Former San Antonio Spurs guard Alvin Robertson was a swiper.

Robertson, who ranks 10th all-time in steals, had a historic season stealing the ball during the 1985-86 campaign. It was his second year in the league, and Robertson averaged 3.7 steals a contest. Who was behind him? That season, Micheal Ray Richardson was second in the league with 2.7 steals a game.

Robertson’s steals average is the highest for a season in league history. In total, Robertson has four of the 10 highest season averages for steals, per Basketball Reference. 

It’s hard to imagine anyone coming close to breaking this, in part because today’s defenses are different. Back during Robertson’s era, individual defense was emphasized, with team concepts still in place.

Now, though, team defensive concepts take priority. Players must still be good defenders individually, but there’s less concentration on trying to  use one player to lock up another. Rather, the focus is a team-based scheme that thwarts multiple options.

 

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