Mitchell’s 71-Point Game Latest Highlight In Historic Offensive Season For NBA

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell exploded for 71 points (and 11 assists!) in Cleveland’s overtime win over Chicago on Monday night, marking the highest-scoring night for an NBA player since Kobe Bryant poured in 81 points against Toronto in January 2006, nearly 17 years ago.

“In my 15 years, that’s the best performance I’ve ever seen,” said veteran forward Kevin Love, who spent several seasons playing alongside all-time great LeBron James and saw Kyrie Irving score 55-plus points multiple times (link via Chris Fedor of

Including Bryant, there were just six players in NBA history who had scored at least 70 points in a game before Mitchell did it on Monday — Wilt Chamberlain, David Thompson, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor, and Devin Booker are the others.

“It’s humbling. I’m speechless to be honest with you,” Mitchell said, per Fedor. “Not only did I do that but I did it in an effort where we came back and won and it’s how we won. This is nuts. I’m extremely blessed and humbled that I’m in that company, in that group.”

As Marc J. Spears of Andscape tweets, Mitchell scored or assisted on 99 Cavaliers points, which is the second-highest total in NBA history, topped only by Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.

Mitchell’s performance stands above the rest of the class as the best single game of the 2022/23 season, but he has faced plenty of competition, and was hardly the only player to have a huge night on Monday. Klay Thompson scored 54 points in a double-overtime victory for the Warriors; LeBron James had 43 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists en route to a win in Charlotte; Joel Embiid went for 42 points and 11 rebounds in a win over New Orleans; and DeMar DeRozan, whose Bulls lost to the Cavs, saw his 44-point showing get overshadowed in a major way by Mitchell’s night.

According to, Monday represented the third time since December 23 (11 days ago) that at least five players have scored 40-plus points on the same day. Prior to December 23, that had only happened four times in NBA history.

As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer observes (via Twitter), Mitchell’s and Thompson’s outbursts on Monday represented the 12th and 13th times this season that a player had scored at least 50 points in a game. That means we’re on pace for 28 such performances this season, which would be the most the NBA has seen since 1962/63 — there were 34 that year, and 30 of them were from Chamberlain.

It hasn’t just been a historic year so far for individual offense. Team offense is also reaching a high water mark that the NBA hasn’t seen in the last 50-plus years. According to Basketball-Reference, teams are averaging 113.7 points per game so far in 2022/23, which would be the highest league-wide scoring average since the 1969/70 season.

While it may not appeal to fans who love defensive slugfests, this season’s brand of basketball has been ideal for those who favor shootouts. It’s also forcing us to rethink how we evaluate a player’s stat line relative to the league average.

It’s still impressive for a player to average 20 points per game, for instance, but it’s not nearly as rare a feat as it was even 10 years ago, when teams were scoring just 98.1 points per game. In 2012/13, only nine qualifying players averaged 20 PPG for the season — this year, 43 are doing so.

View Comments (25)