On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored an amazing 100 points in an NBA game for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks. That number still stands as the single-game NBA scoring record 61 years later. And while no NBA player has come closer than 18 points to that mark, all records are there to be broken. Here are the six NBA players with the best chances of breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s points record, ranked.
Several players who came closest to that mark are no longer playing in the league. Kobe Bryant’s 81 points and David Thompson’s 73 points are the closest closing marks set by players other than Wilt Chamberlain, who also has a 78-point game and three 73-point tries.
Just days before the anniversary, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard tied the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell for the active single-game NBA points record of 71.
If there’s a current NBA player who could tie or break Wilt Chamberlain’s record, here are the six most likely candidates.
Of all the NBA players on this list, some have reached their full potential and are either at the peak of their careers or past their prime as a top scorer. However, Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who turns 25 a day after Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point anniversary, is the second-youngest player on the list.
Tatum’s current career high is 60 points, which he reached at the end of the 2020-21 season and he’s currently averaging 30.3 points per game. With the young talent that the Celtics have in the 2023 squad, Tatum should develop as a scorer, 100 points are on the table.
Stephen Curry turns 35 less than two weeks after Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point anniversary, making him the oldest player on this list and therefore the player with the shortest amount of time to accomplish the feat.
Still, Curry is the best 3-point shooter in NBA history, only has a 62-point game under his belt in 2021, and is as good a pick as any to get locked behind the arch one night.
As a four-time NBA champion, Curry is the ultimate team player, so he might not want to push that record on his best night. But he’s also an all-time great player, and breaking the NBA scoring record in a game could propel him into the GOAT discussion.
4. Donovan Mitchell
Along with Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell is the active player who came closest to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point performance. Just a few weeks ago, on January 3, 2023, “Spider” lost 71 points to the Chicago Bulls.
When Donovan Mitchell left the Utah Jazz and went to Cleveland, he joined a much better team and one with different offensive threats. That means the defense can’t focus on him every night. The move could be the catalyst for Mitchell to push for Wilt Chamberlain’s points record.
3. Devin Booker
Phoenix Suns sniper Devin Booker is 26 years old, so he still has plenty of time to eclipse his previous record (3rd best active mark) of 70 points. That was a while ago though, as he did it back in 2017 in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
The interesting thing about Booker is that another legendary goalscorer, Kevin Durant, is now his teammate. While this can mean fewer shots on most nights, it could also mean more open shots on the right night.
If the Durant-led Suns gel over the next season or two, keep an eye out for Booker to have some monster plays, and who knows, maybe even one like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point performance.
Dallas Mavericks superstar Luke Doncic is the youngest player on this list, having turned 24 just two days before Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point anniversary.
Doncic’s career high is also 60 points and he leads the NBA this season with 33.2 points per game. The recent signing of Kyrie Irving, himself a 60-point scorer, has taken some of the defensive focus away from the young star, which could mean a massive goal-scoring game lies in his future.
As the youngest player on this list, Doncic has the most time to equal the NBA scoring record in a game, putting him at the top of this group.
1. Damian Lillard
With less than a week to go before Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point anniversary, Damian Lillard showed exactly what he can do when he gets hot from the 3-point area. In a 131-114 win over the hapless Houston Rockets, Lillard dropped 71 points in a 13-of-22 night behind the arc.
As admirable as it is that Lillard is staying in Portland despite the franchise’s lack of realistic championship prospects, setting the NBA’s single-game scoring record may be his only hope of going down in history as a true basketball immortal.
And if anyone currently in the NBA can match or surpass Wilt Chamberlain’s points record, Big Game Checkers is that guy.