Jordan > Bowie


Who’s responsible for the most points in the NBA?

Obviously scoring gets you points in the NBA, but something else on the statsheet directly leads to points: assists. An assist is defined as “A pass that leads directly to a basket”. By it’s definition, 1 point scored by a player = 1 point scored for their team. One assist by a player though = 2 or 3 points scored for their team.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leading scorer in the NBA, but knowing the above information, is he responsible for the most points in NBA history (counting points + assists)? Let’s find out.

First off, we need to remember that not every assist is worth 2 points (some are worth 3), so we’d be selling a guy short giving him 2 points for every assist. I made a quick formula which of course isn’t 100% accurate, but hopefully close enough to the real numbers.

Basically, I gather the amount of FGM and 3ptFGM a team has while the player is on the team and find out what % were 3s and what % were 2s. I just give those %s to the player’s assist total and convert into pts (2 or 3pts per assist) and add to their total points.

For example, with Kobe Bryant I added up the 3pters the Lakers made from 96-97 to this year, and divided by the total FG made in those years, and got that around 16.6% of their FG have been 3s. So from his total 4987 assists, I assume 827 assists are worth 3pts (16.6% of his total assists), and the rest are worth 2pts. Not perfect, but this leads to his assists being worth 10,800 points instead of just 9,974.

Here are the totals I got for the top 10 scorers in NBA history, ranked by points scored for their team through pts+ast (with their normal total points rank in parentheses). And remember, unfortunately for players who played before 1980, there were no 3s.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 38,387pts and 5,660ast - 49,773 total points (1)
2. Karl Malone: 36,928pts and 5,248ast - 47,796 total points (2)
3. Oscar Robertson: 26,710pts and 9,887ast - 46,484 total points (10)
4. Michael Jordan: 32,292pts and 5,633ast - 43,962 total points (3)
5. Wilt Chamberlain: 31,419pts and 4,643ast - 40,705 total points (4)
6. Kobe Bryant: 26,934pts and 4,987 ast - 37,735 total points (9)
7. Shaquille O’Neal: 28,582pts and 3,025ast - 35,094 total points (5)
8. Hakeem Olajuwon: 26,946pts and 3,058ast - 33,403 total points (8)
9. Elvin Hayes: 27,313pts and 2,398ast - 32,121 total points (7)
10. Moses Malone: 27,409pts and 1,796ast - 31,066 total points (6)

As we can see from this, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has given his teams the most points, at least out of all the top scorers in NBA history. Logically, triple-double machine Oscar Robertson had the biggest jump in the rankings when his assists were factored in.

Kareem might be ahead of all the bigtime scorers… but what about the all-time passer, John Stockton? How many points is he responsible for?

John Stockton: 19,711pts and 15,806ast - 52,366 total points

So there we have it. John Stockton, the King of the assist, 38th in all-time points in the NBA, is responsible for giving his team the most points.