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James Harden and the highest scoring months in NBA history

James Harden has had a January to remember.

  • 61 points against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
  • 58 points against the Nets in an overtime thriller
  • 57 points against the Grizzlies, including 36 of his team's 54 in the 1st half

In 14 games this month, the reigning MVP averaged an outrageous 43.6 points per game. It probably won't surprise you to know that it's one of the most prolific scoring months in NBA history. He's now only the fourth player in NBA history to average 40 for an entire calendar month (minimum 10 games).

Here are each of the players to do it along with a complete list of every time it's ever happened.

Wilt Chamberlain

Considering that he once averaged over 50 points per game for an entire season, Chamberlain dropping 40 over the course of a month is a drop in the bucket. He did it 11 different times in months he played at least 10 games which doesn't even include October 1962 when he poured in 52.8 over five games, the highest average in any month in league history.

How ridiculous was Chamberlain as a scorer? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he averaged 40 points per game over a stretch of 515 games. That's over 15 times longer than the next-longest streak of its kind entering this season.

Kobe Bryant

Prior to Harden, Bryant was the last player to average 40 over an entire month, something he did three times. His most prolific scoring month came in January 2006 when he averaged 43.4 over 13 games. In addition to his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors which remains the second-most any player has ever scored in an NBA game, Bryant also dropped 50 against the Clippers and 51 against the Kings.

Elgin Baylor

You almost have to feel bad for Baylor in that much of his prolific career overlapped with the likes of Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson. Case in point? December 1961, arguably the greatest month of his career in which Baylor averaged 41.3 points per game over 20 games. That month included some ridiculous performances.

Not only was Baylor's gaudy 41.3 PPG for the month not even the most in the league, it was over 10 fewer than Chamberlain who dropped 52.4 for the month, the most in NBA history (min. 10 games).

Highest scoring months in NBA history

Prior to this season, there had been 15 months in NBA history in which a player averaged over 40 points per game while playing in at least 10 games.

Here are all of them.

Highest Scoring Months
Wilt Chamberlain 52.4 December 1961
Wilt Chamberlain 52.1 November 1962
Wilt Chamberlain 51.8 January 1962
Wilt Chamberlain 50.6 February 1962
Wilt Chamberlain 45.8 March 1963
Wilt Chamberlain 44.1 November 1961
Wilt Chamberlain 43.6 December 1962
James Harden 43.6 January 2019
Kobe Bryant 43.4 January 2006
Wilt Chamberlain 41.9 January 1963
Wilt Chamberlain 41.6 November 1964
Wilt Chamberlain 41.4 January 1960
Elgin Baylor 41.3 December 1961
Kobe Bryant 40.6 February 2003
Wilt Chamberlain 40.4 February 1961
Kobe Bryant 40.4 March 2007

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