Determining the best individual seasons in NBA history really depends on a lot of factors but the most common criteria are statistics, individual accomplishments, and team success.

Averaging a near triple-double or 30 points per game is already a great feat but some players have accomplished way more in just a single season. One of them even won the MVP, DPOY, and Finals MVP in the same season.

Best individual seasons in NBA history

It’s natural that the greatest players of all time have the best statistical NBA seasons. Apart from having the best stats, few players gathered many individual accomplishments during the course of a single season. Only the best of the best can accomplish both of these in one season.

Here are the 25 best individual seasons in NBA history…

25. Dwyane Wade (2008-2009)

Dwyane Wade had an outstanding 2008-2009 season, offensively and defensively. In the regular season, Wade averaged 30.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game on .49/.32/.77 shooting splits.

 
 
 
 

He was named to the All-NBA First Team and finished third in MVP voting, behind LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Despite the early exit against the Hawks in the first round, Wade’s spectacular season on both ends of the floor shouldn’t be forgotten.

24. Oscar Robertson (1961-1962)

Before Russell Westbrook, there was Oscar Robertson, who averaged a triple-double during the 1961-1962 season. His numbers were 30.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game on 48% shooting. He finished third in MVP voting behind Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. He also led the league in assists and finished fourth in field goal percentage and third in points.

Even though Robertson didn’t win the MVP and didn’t win the NBA championship during the season, this was one of the best statistical NBA seasons of all time.

23. Nikola Jokic (2021-2022)

Nikola Jokic will go down as one of the best centers ever in the NBA. Statistically, Jokic had a phenomenal season in 2021-2022. He was named the league MVP for the second consecutive season and was selected for the All-NBA First Team. In the regular season, he recorded a whopping 19 triple-doubles and averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game on .58/.34/.81 shooting splits.

What sets Jokic apart from the rest is his advanced stats. He led the league in Win Shares (15.2), Box Plus/Minus (13.7), and Value Over Replacement Player (9.8). He also set the all-time record in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with 32.8.

22. James Harden (2017-2018)

James Harden was an offensive juggernaut during the 2017-2018 season, averaging 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game on 45/37/86 shooting splits. His scoring and playmaking ability was the main reason why the Rockets were at the top of the league with a 65-17 record.

Harden had a historic season, breaking several NBA records. He was the first player to score a 60-point triple-double and the first player to record at least 2,000 points, 900 assists, and 600 rebounds in a single season. To top his phenomenal season, Harden was named the MVP and scoring champion, and was selected to the All-NBA First Team.

21. Kobe Bryant (2005-2006)

Kobe Bryant was known for being one of the top shooting guards of all time. He had multiple outstanding seasons but his best was 2005-2006. During the regular season, Kobe averaged 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 45/35/84 shooting splits.

This season, Kobe had 27 games where he scored 40 or more points, including the 81-point game against the Raptors. He was also selected for the All-NBA First Team and was the scoring champion. Despite his spectacular season, the Lakers were just 45-37 which greatly affected his MVP chances. He helped the Lakers barely make the playoffs but didn’t make it past the first round.

20. Russell Westbrook (2016-2017)

When it comes to the fiercest players in the NBA, Russell Westbrook is the first player that comes to mind. He had a historic 2016-2017 season, averaging a triple-double, the second player in NBA history to do so. His stats were 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on 43/34/85 shooting splits.

This performance earned him the MVP and All-NBA First Team selection. He also became the first player in NBA history to record a 50-point triple-double and he did it with style, draining a buzzer-beating three for the win against the Nuggets. There’s no doubt that Westbrook’s historic campaign is one of the best individual seasons in NBA history.

19. Kevin Durant (2013-2014)

There’s no doubt that Kevin Durant is one of the best scorers in NBA history, if not the best. His scoring prowess was on full display during the 2013-2014 season, averaging 32 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game on 50/39/87 shooting splits. With this performance, he won the NBA scoring title and league MVP, and was also named to the All-NBA First Team.

Durant helped his team reach the Western Conference Finals and averaged 29.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game on .46/.34/.81 shooting splits in the playoffs. However, they ultimately lost to the Spurs.

18. Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019-2020)

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a phenomenal season in 2019-2020 when he averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block per game on 55% shooting while leading the league in player efficiency rating (PER). No one could stop him offensively due to his explosiveness and athleticism at his height. This made him win his second consecutive league MVP award.

In the playoffs, Giannis averaged 26.7 points, 13.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game on 60% shooting. However, he suffered an ankle injury which made him miss the remainder of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat. This ended the Bucks’ championship run.

Giannis was also named the Defensive Player of the Year, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon to win both the MVP and DPOY in the same season. Moreover, Giannis was named to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team.

17. LeBron James (2008-2009)

The 2008-2009 season is one of the best seasons in LeBron James’ career. In the regular season, James averaged 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game on 49/34/78 shooting splits while leading the Cavaliers to the best record in the NBA (66-16). He led the league in scoring with 28.4 points per game, was selected to the All-NBA First Team, and finished second in MVP voting.

The regular season was phenomenal but it was the postseason where James really dominated. In the playoffs, he averaged 35.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game on 49/38/76 shooting splits. James also set the record for most points in a single playoff series when he averaged 38.5 points per game against the Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Despite having a monstrous postseason, Cleveland lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals.

16. Bill Russell (1961-1962)

The 1961-1962 season was the year when Wilt averaged 50 points and Robertson averaged a triple-double. However, neither won MVP. It was Bill Russell who won the award.

Russell was not known for his scoring prowess since he shined mostly in rebounding and shot-blocking. During the season, he averaged 18.9 points, 23.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game on 46% shooting. Moreover, Russell led the Celtics to another championship and broke the record for the number of rebounds in the NBA Finals. In the final game of the Finals, he corralled 40 rebounds, a record that still stands today.

15. Larry Bird (1987-1988)

Larry Bird had a phenomenal 1987-1988 season, averaging 29.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on an amazing 53/41/92 shooting splits. His performance this season earned the MVP award and All-NBA First Team.

In the playoffs, Bird averaged 25.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game on 47/32/90 shooting splits. Although his numbers and shooting percentages dipped, he was still the Celtics’ leading scorer, rebounder, and playmaker. Even with Bird at the helm, the Celtics were ultimately defeated in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pistons.

14. Stephen Curry (2015-2016)

Stephen Curry in 2015-2016 was out of this world. During the season, Curry averaged 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game on 50/45/91 shooting splits. He set the record for most three-pointers made in a single season with 402, a record that hasn’t been broken yet.

As a result, Curry won the league MVP and was selected to the All-NBA First Team. He led the Warriors to the best NBA regular season record of 73-9, which is one of the greatest teams in league history.

In the playoffs, Curry’s numbers dipped due to injuries. He averaged 25.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game on 44/40/89 shooting splits which were enough to help the Warriors reach the NBA Finals. Curry was one win away from cementing himself in the top five in the best individual seasons in NBA history but the Cavaliers turned the series around and won instead.

13. Magic Johnson (1986-1987)

Magic Johnson‘s 1986-1987 season is one of the best seasons by a player in NBA history. His ability to run the offense in transition is what makes him one of the best point guards of all time. During the season, Magic averaged 23.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 12.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 52% from the field, making him the league MVP.

In the playoffs, Magic led the Showtime Lakers to the NBA championship, averaging 21.8 points, 12.2 assists, and 7.7 rebounds in 18 games. The Lakers beat their rivals the Celtics in the NBA Finals where he won his third Finals MVP award and his fourth NBA championship.

Apart from the MVP and Finals MVP, Magic was selected to the All-NBA First Team and led the league in assists (his fourth in his career).

12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-1971)

Still officially named Lew Alcindor at the time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar picked it up where he left off after winning the Rookie of the Year award in the previous season, averaging 31.7 points, 16 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on 58% shooting in the 1970-1971 season. This was just the start of the career of one of the best centers ever.

In the playoffs, Kareem averaged 26.6 points, 17 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game on 52% shooting. He was even better in the NBA Finals against the Bullets when he averaged 27 points, 18.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game while shooting over 60% percent from the field. Ultimately, the Bucks won their first NBA championship in franchise history after sweeping the Bullets, and his first as well. He was also named the NBA Finals MVP.

Even though he was still barely scratching the surface at this time, Kareem’s 1970-1971 season is widely considered one of the greatest individual NBA seasons of all time.

11. Larry Bird (1985-1986)

Larry Bird’s 1985-1986 season is at the top of the best individual seasons in NBA history. During this season, Bird was named the NBA MVP for the third consecutive year and led the Celtics to a 67-15 record, the best in the NBA.

He averaged 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game on 50/42/90 shooting splits, which earned him the All-NBA First Team selection.

In the playoffs, Bird averaged 24 points, 9.7 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 2 steals per game on 49/35/88 shooting splits. His dominance on the floor led the Celtics to the NBA championship and won the Finals MVP award. It was Bird’s third NBA championship and his second Finals MVP award.

10. Tim Duncan (2002-2003)

Tim Duncan is one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game. Perhaps one of his best seasons was in 2002-2003 where he averaged 23.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.9 blocks per game on 51% shooting. He was crowned the league MVP after putting up these numbers and finished inside the top five of the Defensive of the Player voting. Duncan was also named to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive First teams.

In the playoffs, Duncan was even better and averaged 24.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 3.3 blocks per game. He still took it up another notch in the NBA Finals, averaging 24.2 points, 17 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 5.3 blocks per game, and helping the Spurs win the NBA championship. Duncan was a monster on both ends of the floor, winning him the Finals MVP award.

9. LeBron James (2012-2013)

LeBron James had many phenomenal seasons but his 2012-2013 campaign was the best. In the regular season, James averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game on 57% shooting from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. He led the Heat with a 66-16 record which earned him the league MVP, All-NBA First Team, and All-Defensive First Team.

James was even more dominant in the playoffs as he upped his numbers, averaging 25.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game while shooting 50% from the field and 38% from three. This monstrous performance catapulted the Heat to win their second consecutive NBA championship. James was also named the Finals MVP.

8. Michael Jordan (1995-1996)

After getting out of retirement, Michael Jordan returned to basketball and still dominated the league. In his first full season since his absence, Jordan averaged 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.2 steals per game on 50/43/83 shooting splits. He won his eighth scoring title and led the Bulls to a 72-win season, which was the best regular-season record at the time. He was also named the MVP and was selected to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team.

To top this off, Jordan won his fourth NBA championship with the Bulls and was named the Finals MVP after averaging 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. This championship was also the start of another three-peat for Chicago.

7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1971-1972)

One of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s best seasons was during the 1971-1972 season with the Bucks. He averaged 34.8 points, 16.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game on 57% shooting. His dominance made him the league’s leading scorer and MVP for the second consecutive season while leading the Bucks to the best regular season record of 63-19.

In the playoffs, Kareem averaged 28.7 points, 18.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game on 50% shooting. However, the Bucks lost in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers (who were led by Wilt Chamberlain).

Even though Kareem couldn’t get that second consecutive championship with the Bucks, this was arguably one of the best individual seasons in NBA history.

6. Wilt Chamberlain (1961-1962)

Wilt Chamberlain’s 1961-1962 season is one of the best statistical NBA seasons of all time. He put up record-breaking numbers which are yet to be broken. In the regular season, Wilt averaged a whopping 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game on 50.6% shooting. His 50.4 points per game are the highest scoring average in NBA history. He broke his record in the previous season when he averaged 38.4  points per game.

Throughout the regular season, Wilt produced 60 points or more in 15 games. But what will always be remembered is his 100-point game against the Knicks. This record still stands today and is considered one of the greatest scoring performances in NBA history.

5. Michael Jordan (1987-1988)

Michael Jordan had one of the best individual seasons in NBA history at age 24. During the season, Jordan averaged 35 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 54% from the field. Apart from these numbers, Jordan accumulated a lot of individual accomplishments this season.

He won the MVP, scoring title, steals leader, and Defensive Player of the Year awards and was selected to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team. At the time, he was the only player in NBA history to win the scoring title and DPOY award in the same season.

In the playoffs, Jordan upped his numbers and averaged 36.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in the postseason, including two notable 50-point performances against the Cavaliers. Ultimately, the Bulls lost to the Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals but Jordan proved that he was just entering his prime.

4. Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1967)

When it comes to individual accomplishments, the 1966-1967 season is the best season for Wilt Chamberlain. Compared to his 1961-1962 season where he averaged 50 points per game, Wilt’s numbers were much lower this season. Still, he was dominant on both ends of the floor. During the season, he averaged 24.1 points, 24.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game on 68% shooting.

This season is a revelation of Wilt’s improvement as a basketball player. He knew that he was already dominant and arguably the best player on the planet at that time. But what he lacked was getting an NBA title. He found his answer through his coach Alex Hannum who instructed him to involve his teammates more. Wilt listened and passed the ball more often, as seen from his 7.8 assists per game.

As a result, Wilt won the MVP award and led Sixers to a 68-win regular season. His dominance continued in the playoffs, where he averaged a near triple-double of 21.7 points, 29.1 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. He led the Sixers to their first NBA championship which was his first NBA championship as well.

3. Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-1994)

Hakeem Olajuwon’s 1993-1994 season will always be remembered for being one of the best seasons by a player in NBA history. He was dominant offensively and defensively, averaging 27.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game on 52.8% shooting. His all-around performance made him win both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as being in the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team.

Olajuwon led the Rockets to their first NBA championship in franchise history, defeating the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals. In the playoffs, he averaged 28.9 points, 11 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks per game, crowning him the Finals MVP. He’s the first and only player to win the MVP, DPOY, and Finals MVP awards in a single season.

2. Shaquille O’Neal (1999-2000)

The 1999-2000 season is arguably Shaquille O’Neal‘s best season as he dominated both ends of the court. In the regular season, Shaq led the league in scoring as he averaged 29.7 points, along with 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 3 blocks per game on 57.4% shooting. This dominant effort made him win the NBA MVP, the first and only MVP award in his career.

In the playoffs, Shaq turned it up a notch and averaged 30.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game on 58% shooting. He led the Lakers to their first championship since 1988 and won the Finals MVP award, cementing himself as one of the best centers ever. Shaq was also named to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive Second Team to cap off his monstrous season.

1. Michael Jordan (1990-1991)

One of the greatest individual NBA seasons is the 1990-1991 version of Michael Jordan. He was out for revenge this season after failing to get past the Pistons in the playoffs for 3 straight seasons. He worked on his body in the offseason to take more of Detroit’s physicality in the paint.

In the regular season, Jordan averaged 31.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game on .54/.31/.85 shooting splits. Jordan won the MVP and led the Bulls to a 61-21 record. He was also named to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team.

In the playoffs, Jordan was even better, averaging 31.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1 block per game. He led the charge in sweeping the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals and winning against the Lakers in the NBA Finals. It was the Bulls’ first NBA championship in franchise history and Jordan’s first as well. This championship was the start of Chicago’s dynasty in the 90s.

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