The NBA is experiencing a scoring surge. On Monday, former Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell scored 71 points against the Chicago Bulls, the most since Kobe Bryant’s 81 in 2006. Klay Thompson scored 54 against the Atlanta Hawks.
According to Statmuse, this is the 14th time this season that a player has scored 50 or more in a single match as of January 6th.
And it’s only 10 weeks into the season.
“We’re more paced somewhere in the mid-30s — you know, 34, 35, 36 — we’ve had 50+ point games this season. The last thing that happened was with Wilt Chamberlin. It was the early 1960s, when Elgin Baylor had just come out, NBC Sports’ Kurt Herrin said on the Pro Basketball Talk podcast:
According to Statmuse, only 19 players scored 50 or more points in a single game last season, with Kyrie Irving and Karl-Anthony Towns leading the way with 60 points.
Over the last two weeks, Luka Doncic posted a league-first 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 55 points, and Mitchell capped it off with a historic performance.
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. Booker and Embiid have done it twice, and Doncic has done it three times.
Additionally, for the first time since the 1994-1995 season, two teammates each scored 50 or more in one game in one season.
With 71 points on Monday, Mitchell and teammate Darius Garland became the first teammates to score 50 or more points in a single game this season. Hours later, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry accomplished the same feat with Thompson’s 54 points.
What caused this score spike?
The simple answer is an increase in three-pointers. Herrin said the current player grew up shooting his 3s, and he’s more comfortable shooting 3s than the players of a decade ago, forcing teams to poison their defenses.
“It’s hard to guard when Luka (Doncic) shoots on the floor and they’re shooting,” Herrin said. “If you shoot anywhere, you can’t double Luka in the same way and he can be off.”
CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin says his 3-point era has played a big role, but that’s not the only factor leading to the NBA’s scoring surge.
Botkin said utilization, the percentage of team play that players used, was a key factor. He noted that Embiid, Doncic and Antetokounmpo have accounted for his 50 points and 36% of his games this season. According to the Basketball-Reference, they are the 8th, 5th, and 3rd best utilization rates in league history respectively this season.
He said it wasn’t because he made more free throws.
“Before jumping to the simplistic conclusion that total points are being inflated by more whistles and free throws, understand that we’ve averaged 20.5 fouls called per game this season,” he said. wrote in the article. “Since the early days of the NBA, he’s seen 77 seasons, but he’s only had eight fouls-per-game fewer calls, including his 19.3 last season, an all-time low.” was.”