The ‘22-’23 NBA campaign is not even halfway through, yet a record six players have already scored 55 or more points in a single game this season.
While there is still no clear cut explanation on why there has been a sudden increase in these explosive performances, it has made for fantastic theater for the league’s audiences.
Joel Embiid was the first player to eclipse the 55-point mark this season with a 59-point performance for the Philadelphia 76ers in their 105-98 win over the Utah Jazz last November 13. The 28-year old center hit 20 of his 24 free throw attempts in the contest and also had 11 rebounds, eight assists, a steal, and seven blocks to go with his career-best scoring night.
Embiid followed it up with a 53-point outing a month later versus the Charlotte Hornets and he has also put in at least 40 points on five other occassions.
Following Embiid was the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis who put up 55 points, 17 rebounds, an assist, and three blocks in an 11-point win against the Washington Wizards last December 4.
Davis, whose career-high point total is 59 points, pumped in a dominant showing to help the Lakers secure a much-needed win. He hit 22 of his 30 field goal attempts and, much to the delight of his critics, was focused on imposing his will inside rather than drifting out to the perimeter for jumpers.
A few games later, he suffered a foot injury and remains sidelined indefinitely which has further dampened Los Angeles’ disappointing season. The Lakers have put together a three-game winning streak to kick off the year though and hints that Davis could return in the coming weeks bring a sliver of hope to this struggling team.
Two weeks after Davis, Devin Booker joined the fray with his second 50-point game of the season. He torched the New Orleans Pelicans with 58 points, six three-pointers, six rebounds, and five assists to lead the Phoenix Suns to a four-point win on December 17.
Booker’s previous season-high was 51 points which he reached less than three weeks before in a 19-point victory against the Chicago Bulls.
The 26-year-old Booker’s statement game versus the Pelicans was further fueled by the budding rivalry between these two Western Conference rivals. What made his 58-point outing even more impressive is that he did it against a New Orleans team that has a bevy of long perimeter defenders to throw at Booker.
To cap off 2022, Luka Doncic recorded the first 60-point game of the season in grand fashion. His clutch performance down the stretch helped force overtime and allowed the Dallas Mavericks to win a 126-121 contest over the New York Knicks last December 27.
Aside from his 60 points, Doncic also collected 21 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and a block. This was the first time in NBA history that a player ever scored 60 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the same game which is quite astonishing considering the dominance of Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s.
The historic evening was also Doncic’s third game with at least 50 points in this season alone and it seems like Dallas will need even more performances like this from him if they want to keep afloat in the Western Conference playoff race.
Donovan Mitchell then kicked off the New Year with a 71-point performance on January 2. He also had eight rebounds, 11 assists, and a block to complete his career-best game and help the Cleveland Cavaliers win an 11-point overtime contest versus the Chicago Bulls.
It was the first 70-point game since Booker dropped 70 in 2017 and the first one with double digit assists in league history.
Mitchell, who is averaging a career-high 29 points per game this season, has played like a worthy NBA Most Valuable Player candidate since arriving at Cleveland in the summer. If he can continue playing at this blistering pace, the Cavaliers may warrant inclusion in the list of legitimate contenders for this season as it has been impossible for the league to slow down the three-time NBA All-Star.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was the latest player to join the fray with a 55-point showing just a day after Mitchell’s explosive outing. He added 10 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals as well to secure a 10-point win over the Wizards.
The two-time NBA MVP made 20-of-33 field goals, but the biggest surprise was his uncharacteristic 15-of-16 shooting from the free throw line. He has made only 66% of his free throws this season, yet if this is the start of a new trend, then it is highly conceivable that more big games like this one are in the immediate pipeline for Antetokounmpo.
It would not come as a surprise if more performances like these arise during these next few months. A couple of dominant players such as Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and even the 38-year-old LeBron James could potentially join this 55-point club.
The reasons for these scoring outbursts are still up for debate, though regardless of the reason, the real winner from these recent performances are the NBA and its fanbase.