Chris Paul had an NBA Finals debut worth remembering to lead his Phoenix Suns to a 118-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1. The 16-year veteran scored 32 points and added nine assists with four rebounds in the win on Tuesday night at the Phoenix Suns Arena.
The 32 points that Paul scored is one of the highest ever recorded by a player in an NBA Finals debut. But it was far from being No. 1 on the list.
Allen Iverson registered the most points ever in an NBA Finals debut since the NBA/ABA merger (1976-77) when he torched the LA Lakers for 48 points in 2001. The Answer was the league MVP that season, and he quickly showed on the NBA’s biggest stage that he definitely deserved the honor.
Iverson led the Philadelphia 76ers to the 107-101 Game 1 win over the Lakers, who eventually won the next four games. But the loss didn’t diminish Iverson’s incredible performance.
Where does Paul’s 32 points land in history? The Suns guard tied three other players for fifth place in the league annals. Others who scored as much were Pascal Siakam (2019), Jason Terry (2006) and Shawn Kemp (1996).
Notable legends on their NBA Finals debuts
Four other legends had better NBA Finals debuts, scoring-wise, than Paul had in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals.
In 1991, Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan scored 36 points which, at the time, was the highest points scored in an NBA Finals debut before Iverson eclipsed his record 10 years later. Though they lost Game 1 93-91, the Bulls would go on to sweep the next four games of the Finals against the Lakers.
His Airness is tied with Kevin Durant, who also had 36 points in Game 1 of the 2012 Finals for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Like Iverson, the Thunder won their first game, 105-94, but were swept by the Miami Heat in the succeeding four games.
Third on the list is Anthony Davis, who had 34 points in his NBA Finals debut last year. The Lakers forward led his team to a 116-98 Game 1 victory as they went on to win the 2020 championship in six games against the Miami Heat.
Fourth place goes to the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan who had 33 points in his own NBA Finals debut in 1999. The Spurs won 89-77 against the New York Knicks in Game 1 and finished off their opponent in five games as Duncan won his first championship.