Forty points. That’s the threshold when fans start to sit up a little straighter. When text messages start flying around and hashtags are coined. When a whatever-Wednesday League Pass Game becomes must-watch TV. When “Amazing Happens.” Looking at any given list of 40+ scorers is like checking out a coded list of the probable All-Stars in a given year: 2013-14′s list has last names like Anthony (five times), Durant (ten times), and Love (four times). It’s far from perfect, no criterion is, but if you were looking to find the who’s who in the game of basketball, you could do much worse than examining those players who are able to drop 40 on any given night.
Of course, there are always the one-offs: guys such as Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross, who became the first player in NBA history to score 50 while averaging less than 10 points a game. Or the career heat-check gunners, such as Marcus Thornton, who hit 42 in a loss against the Pacers in January. A hot shooting night can happen to anyone. That’s not what we’re going for here.
No, what follows are the eight seasons that saw an individual NBA player break the 40-point plane most often. Models of consistency. Almost all of them are in the Hall of Fame. The only exception will be, once he hangs up his sneakers.