Coming to the NBA straight from St. Vincent St. Mary’s High School, we all knew LeBron James would reach for greatness. But with such huge expectations, few could’ve expected LeBron would so immensely live up to the hype. As James continues to cement his legacy, it’s becoming more and more reasonable to wonder if he can become the NBA’s all team leading scorer.
Currently standing at No. 14 on the all-time scoring list with 26,378 career points, he trails Kareem Adbul-Jabbar (38,387) by about 12,000 points. If any active member of the NBA has any legitimate shot at rising up to No. 1, it’s LeBron James. He’s the lone player who has the perfect combination of a high scoring total, relative youth and a set of skills that should allow him to sustain an impressive points-per-game average for a number of years.
At the age of 31, it is safe to say LeBron isn’t getting any younger. His reliance on his athleticism has experts and analysts believing he only has about 4-5 more years of dominant basketball left in him. So with that in mind, how close can LeBron really get to Kareem?
With 21 games left in the regular season, LeBron is on pace to add 521 more points to his career total, bringing him to 26,899 points at season’s end. Over his career, LeBron has averaged 27.2 points per game, but that figure has dropped over the past few years. Now placing a heavier emphasis on facilitating, let’s use LeBron’s last three years (25.7 points per game) as a predictor of his next 4 peak years.
If James played in 75 of 82 games in each of the next four seasons (something he has done every year but once), he would amass 7,710 more points, bringing him to a total of 34,609 points. James would be 35 at this point, and his efficiency would certainly begin to drop.
While it likely wouldn’t plunge like we are currently witnessing with Kobe Bryant, James’ need to keep up his stellar play is a reminder of how impressive Kareem’s record truly is.
So can James break the mark set by the Hall of Fame center? Absolutely. Will he? It will all depend on his ability to stay healthy, stay elite, and adapt his game as his athleticism wanes.