Friday, May 6, 2016

Top NBA Playoff Performers of the 1980's


If you grew up watching basketball in the 1980's then you are well aware that two teams dominated the era.  In fact all ten NBA Finals during the decade saw either the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics participate.  The Lakers came away with five rings while the Celtics won three.  

It comes as no surprise then that the dominant players in the the '80's were primarily from these two teams. The list below shows the greatest scorers of each NBA Playoffs during the decade.  You will notice three league wide changes reflected in the numbers:

  1. In 1984 the NBA expanded the first round of the playoffs to a best of five as opposed to the best of three series which ran for the previous nine playoffs.  
  2. Elimination of the first round bye for top seeds also began in '84. 
  3. Introduction of the three-point line for the 1980 season.  The 3-pointer helped increase NBA average shooting efficiency by about 4% from the '79 playoffs.  
Since the best teams played more games and shooting percentages were higher across the league you see higher 'NET Points' totals than in the 1960's and 1970's.


Top NBA Playoff Performers of the 1980's 
ranked by NET Points   
  


Playoffs Team Games NET POINTS Points/Game
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1980 LAL 15 87 32
Magic Johnson 1980 LAL 16 47 18
Cedric Maxwell 1980 BOS 9 44 18
Julius Erving 1980 PHI 18 42 24






Cedric Maxwell 1981 BOS 17 61 16
Moses Malone 1981 HOU 21 38 27
Darryl Dawkins 1981 PHI 16 38 14
Bobby Jones 1981 PHI 16 36 15






Julius Erving 1982 PHI 21 64 22
Andrew Toney 1982 PHI 21 47 22
Bobby Jones 1982 PHI 21 46 12
Magic Johnson 1982 LAL 14 45 17
Kevin McHale 1982 BOS 12 37 16






Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1983 LAL 15 72 27
Moses Malone 1983 PHI 13 50 26
George Gervin 1983 SAS 11 39 25
Johnny Moore 1983 SAS 11 35 22


Playoffs Team Games NET POINTS Points/Game
Larry Bird 1984 BOS 23 111 27
Bernard King 1984 NYK 12 81 35
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1984 LAL 21 78 24
James Worthy 1984 LAL 21 67 18
Magic Johnson 1984 LAL 21 64 18






Kevin McHale 1985 BOS 21 96 22
James Worthy 1985 LAL 19 92 21
Alex English 1985 DEN 14 71 30
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1985 LAL 19 71 22






Kevin McHale 1986 BOS 18 96 25
Larry Bird 1986 BOS 18 87 26
Hakeem Olajuwon 1986 HOU 20 62 27
Charles Barkley 1986 PHI 12 62 25
Danny Ainge 1986 BOS 18 61 16







Playoffs Team Games NET POINTS Points/Game
Kevin McHale 1987 BOS 21 91 21
James Worthy 1987 LAL 18 84 24
Larry Bird 1987 BOS 23 83 27
Hakeem Olajuwon 1987 HOU 10 70 29
Magic Johnson 1987 LAL 18 69 22
Robert Parish 1987 BOS 21 69 18






Kevin McHale 1988 BOS 17 110 25
Magic Johnson 1988 LAL 24 80 20
Adrian Dantley 1988 DET 23 76 19
Byron Scott 1988 LAL 24 67 20






Michael Jordan 1989 CHI 17 100 35
James Worthy 1989 LAL 15 67 25
Kevin Johnson 1989 PHO 12 55 24
Magic Johnson 1989 LAL 14 46 18
Chris Mullin 1989 GSW 8 43 29

Italics indicates annual leader

Bold indicates decade record

*Thanks to the Basketball-Reference Play Index

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Top NBA Playoff Performers                                                 Top NBA Playoff Performers
of the 1970's                                                                              of the 1990's