Periodically, NBA.com editors will offer their thoughts on key storylines or hot topics around the league.
Never? A sin Never? Come on, there are only two reasons why this won’t happen: either no player, now or in the future, will be able to score 100 points in a game, or no one will dare to do it. The first possibility seems unlikely, given modern training, athletic ability, nutrition, travel, 3-point vs. 2-point shooting and current defense-hindering rules. The second suggests respect for Chamberlain, one of the NBA’s greatest players who played the so-called right way…which won’t deter anyone. Sports records fall.
I always say no, but that answer is harder to give today than ever. Today’s players have the talent to do it, especially with the 3-point shot, but the high of that scoring streak — 73 points — isn’t even 3/4 of Wilt’s 100. Luka Doncic would have needed 27 more points – only 10 players average that much over an entire game this season. Kobe’s 81, on the other hand, is in play.
If this were to happen: That would be a player like Doncic, who can create his own offense, warm up from 3, draw fouls and make free throws. This should be a close game and it will likely take at least one overtime for his minutes to reach over 48 minutes. Sometimes a team’s success comes at the expense of the story. See Klay Thompson’s 60 points in 29 minutes when he sat in the fourth quarter with the game in hand.
Yes. Because with a few exceptions — like a player playing all 82 games and averaging 48.5 minutes per game, as Wilt did — few records last forever. And also because today’s game will allow it. With a spaced floor, foul contact, 3-point shooting and an emphasis on isolation, a scorer on a hot night will get it. If Michael Jordan played today, he would have it.
If this were to happen: At least we’d have video. It won’t be limited to 4,000 fans in a small arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. But the player with 100 points will surely write his total on a white sheet of paper for the photo shoot anyway.
I would never say “never”, but there is still a huge gap between 73 points that Luka Doncic scored on Friday and Chamberlain 100. With the incredible amount of talent in the league and the attack spacing they play with, the potential for huge scoring nights is certainly there. But defenses can still slow guys down by sending double teams on otherwise unstoppable players.
If this were to happen: It would have to be someone who can score on or through double teams and shoot from long range. Victor Wembanyama, with an average of 34.2 points by 36 minutes over his last 11 games, might be the best candidate among players in the league right now.
Michael C. Wright
Absolutely, this is happening. Players’ collective skill sets continue to grow significantly at a rapid pace. Additionally, the NBA’s rules will still be structured to keep fans seated and in front of TVs, which means more offense and scoring, and fewer regulations geared toward defenders.
If this were to happen: This would evoke memories of Chamberlain as it is likely that a great man will surpass this seemingly unbreakable record. Victor Wembanyama gave us all our first glimpse of a future that will feature ultra-skilled players capable of shooting the ball from deep. Others are on the way.