NBA Top Scorers To Never Lead NBA In Scoring

For as great as these NBA top scorers were at scoring, they never led the league in per game average at any time in their career.

The players on this list are surprising and some of these NBA top scorers you may have forgotten about.

Here are the seven top scorers in NBA history to never lead the league in scoring:

David Thompson

One of the games early high flyers, Thompson could really fill it up.

In his lone ABA season he averaged 26.0 ppg (third best) before moving to the NBA and averaging 25.9 in 1976-77 (fourth most) and 27.1 in 1977-78 (second most).

Thompson scored 22.7 ppg, 29th best of all-time scorers in NBA history.

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Charles Barkley

Sir Charles finished 4th in scoring two separate times. In 1987-88 he averaged his single-season career high of 28.3 ppg. In 1990-91, he scored 27.6 ppg.

In his 1992-93 MVP season, Barkley averaged 25.6 PPG, 5th most in the league that season.

Barkley finished in the top 10 in scoring in 9 separate seasons.

Moses Malone

Moses Malone was a 3x MVP, 6x rebound champion, NBA champion, and one of the NBA top scorers for years. All after jumping straight from high school to the pros.

Malone finished second in scoring in back to back years. In 1980-81 he averaged 27.8 ppg and in 1981-82, he averaged 31.1.

Malone was such a great player he had his #2 jersey retired by the Philadelphia 76ers AND his #24 jersey retired by the Houston Rockets.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk accomplished so much as a player, and as of the top NBA scorers, that it seems the one and only thing he NEVER did was lead the NBA in scoring.

Nowitzki retired with 31,560 points, the 6th most in history, beneath Michael Jordan in 5th and Wilt Chamberlain in 7th.

Dirk is the Mavericks’ all-time leader in points, rebounds, field goals, field goal attempts, 3-pointers, 3-point attempts, blocks, free throws, and free-throw attempts. But NEVER lead the NBA in scoring.

Dirk finished in the top 10 in PPG 10 times.

His 20.7 career average has never been higher in a single season than it was in 2005-06 when he scored 26.6 a game, but that was only seventh best in the league. He finished 4th two separate times (04-05 and 08-09), but never higher than that.

Nowitzki is the only player to record at least 31,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals, 1,000 blocks and 1,000 three-point field goals.

Karl Malone

If he wanted to lead the league in scoring, Karl Malone picked the wrong time to be a productive scorer. From the 1988-89 season until the 1991-92 season, Malone finished second in ppg five straight seasons.

The Mailman finished second an amazing five times, third three times, fourth twice and fifth three times. Incredible!

Another stat – Malone’s assent to the becoming one of the NBA top scorers was littered with free throw attempts. Karl Malone has attempted and made the most free throws in NBA history. James Harden is doing everything he can to challenge that record.

All of those were over a span of 13 consecutive years. His career average of 25.0 is 12th best in NBA history.

Dr. J Julius Erving

Dr. J never led the NBA in scoring – did you know that?

The highest he ever finished was 4th place in 1979-80 when he scored 26.9 ppg. He finished 5th in 1981-82 when he put up 24.4 ppg.

His 22.0 ppg average is 34th-best in NBA history.

Elgin Baylor

Even though Baylor is fourth all-time in per game scoring average (27.3), and a top all-time NBA scorer, he never lead the league in scoring.

He finished second in scoring two separate times (both behind Wilt Chamberlain) with impressive averages of 34.8 in 1960-61 and 34.0 in 1962-63. Imagine scoring 34+ ppg and finishing second twice!

He also finished third twice, and fourth four separate times.

For as prolific as Baylor was in all aspects of the game (13.5 rpg, 4.3 apg), his scoring production is incredible.

I’ve been a freelance journalist since 2000 and have had my work published via AskMen, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Busted Coverage, and Autotrader. I’ve done stand-up comedy. I'm a dad, youth soccer coach, and team statistician for the oldest indoor football team in the world, the Omaha Beef. I own a design agency in Omaha, NE called little guy design. I’ve married six couples in 10 years and my Marriage to Still Married ratio is 6:6. I always say, it isn’t so much about the “love,” as it is the tasteless jokes that became vows. I started the I-80 Sports Blog to have all the work I've published located in one place and to write about things I want to write about. I don't take anything too seriously and it is a real time saver.