Only five players had 50 point games in seasons in which they averaged less than 15 per game
Over the last 30 regular seasons, there has been a total of 209 performances in which a player scored 50 or more points (note that MJ, Kobe, AI and Lebron are responsible for over a third of those games). Seems like a large number in a vacuum, but when you compare it to the number of triple doubles in the same timeframe (1329), it’s obvious why a 50 point game is considered to be one of the rarest and most coveted achievements in the NBA.
In that sample of 209 games, a special group of non-superstar players especially stands out. A group of players who managed to completely shock the NBA audience with their inspired performances that came out of the blue, and sneak in an amazing 50 point performance while averaging less than 15 points for the season:
1. Corey Brewer – 51 points vs. Rockets in 2014
Missings of the top three team scorers in Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Peković certainly opened up a lot of space for Brewer, but who would have thought he could light it up so hard against his future team. He barely averaged double digits that season (12.3 to be precise), but it seemed no one on the Rockets’ roster had any idea how to stop his fast breaks and drives (and half-court shots) in what could be considered an anti-thesis to Carmelo’s all jumpshot 50 points game against the Heat.
2. Terrence Ross – 51 points vs. Clippers in 2014
Franchise scoring record (held by Vince Carter at the time) being matched by a sophomore is a rare sight in the NBA, but Terrence Ross, who up until that game averaged only 9.3 points per game, managed to do it on an incredible night he had at the start of 2014. Only five other players had 50 point games in their rookie or sophomore years in the last 20 years – Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Lebron James, Brandon Jennings and Devin Booker. Sadly, it seems that Ross’ still hasn’t truly lived up to the expectations he set up for himself in front of the Air Canada Center.
3. Andre Miller – 52 points vs. Mavericks in 2010
The player that was always considered an epitome of slow-paced, intelligent point guard basketball, which eventually landed him the nickname The Professor, exploded for 52 points at 33 years of age. He only scored more than 30 points twice in the previous five seasons, so this was a bit of a shocker. In this away game in Dallas he once again proved to be an extremely important clutch veteran presence, scoring 25 in the fourth and overtime, putting Blazers on top over the Mavs. The performance is even more fascinating considering he only shot (and made) one three pointer in the game.
4. Mo Williams – 52 points vs. Pacers in 2015
The Timberwolves seem to be a fertile ground for players looking to reach some unexpected heights, although Mo Williams certainly is not a stranger to high scoring performances (25 career games scoring 30+). Just a season after Corey Brewer lit up the Target Center, Mo Williams carried the Wolves out of a 15 loss slump with an amazing shooting performance. The team was injury ridden yet again, but that did not help the Pacers; they could just stand and watch Mo fill it up one unbelievable shot after another. He was pretty close to crossing the 15 point average threshold by the end of the season (averaged 14.2 points per game), as he continued to shoot and score on a high volume after getting traded to the Hornets later on in the season.
5. Tony Delk – 53 points vs. Kings in 2001
Up until that point of his career Tony Delk only had three games with 25+ points, so scoring double the amount really came out of nowhere. He must’ve drawn motivation from the fact that he was playing against his former team, otherwise it’s hard to grasp how a player, who averaged 12.3 points in his best season, can suddenly become such a cold-blooded scoring machine. This performance tops even Andre Miller’s one; Delk scored 53 without a single three pointer, which puts him neck-and-neck with Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Clyde Drexler and Jim Jackson, the only guards who managed to score 50 without a three point field goal made.
Other than being amazing in their own right, there’s another interesting coincidence connecting four out of five of these performances. Terrence Ross, Andre Miller, Mo Williams and Tony Delk all had their career defining 50 point performances in the month of January. Therefore, if you’re hoping for a player otherwise not known for his scoring to explode in a single game, make sure to pay closer attention to him as soon as the long anticipated Christmas and New Year’s Eve are over.