Kobe Bryant is widely regarded as one of the best scorers in the NBA and he's arguably one of the best of all time, too. He is currently 5th on the NBA all-time scoring list with 29484 points scored in his 16-year career, 5000 points more than any other active player. Bryant stands right behind NBA legends Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list. The Lakers guard needs almost 9000 points to surpass current all-time-leading-scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who spent his 20-year NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The man formerly known as Lew Alcindor played 1560 games in the league, averaging 24.6 points-per-game en route to a grand total of 38387 points scored. Kobe has played 1161 games so far , with an average of 25.4 points-per-game. Kareem retired after the 1988-1989 NBA season at the age of 41. Kobe Bryant turns 34 today (August 23rd) and, assuming he keeps playing until he is 41, just like Abdul-Jabbar, he will have 8 more seasons to become the new all-time leading scorer. At the same time, this means he will accomplish something no other NBA player has ever done, playing in a whopping 24 NBA seasons.
At 34 Kareem had scored 26270 points, more than 3000 short of Bryant right now, but he had played in only 12 NBA season to Kobe 16. From age 34 to 41, when he retired, Kareem averaged 19.4 points-per-game and scored 12117 points, much more than what Kobe needs right now to reach him. What is mind boggling is the fact that Kareem averaged more than 78 games-per-season during that span. Anyway, do not expect Kobe to keep playing until he is forty, when he would not be one of the NBA top players anymore. This would be far too much for his ego.
As a matter of fact, Bryant admitted this summer that he is considering retirement after his contract with the Lakers is up in 2 years. If Kobe does not change his mind by then he, at best, can surpass Jordan for 3rd on the all-time scoring list. A great feat, regardless, but still short of the feat Bryant can aim for. My guess is that he plays no more than 3 seasons after his current contract, giving him 5 more seasons and 21 total. A question rises. Could Bryant actually surpass Abdul-Jabbar in 5 more seasons?
Taking into account the last 3 seasons, and rounding up last year lockout-shortened season, Kobe has been averaging about 26.5 points-per-game and 2000 points-per-season since the 2009-2010 campaign. Can he keep this up for, say, 5 more seasons? This is highly doubtful. Anyway, let's consider some hypothetical scenarios.
If Bryant plays every single game for 5 more seasons and averages at least 22 points-per-game during that span, he could surpass Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list. However, only 3 players in NBA History have played all 82 games and averaged more than 22 ppg in a single season after the age of 34: Jordan, Malone and Alex English. And Kobe himself has played 82 games in a season only 4 times in his 16-year career. Averaging 22 ppg and 82 games-per-season for 5 straight years at his age would be insane, something nobody has ever done.
In another hypothetical scenario, he could play an average of 75 games for each of the same 5 seasons, but he would then have to average no less than 25 ppg. In this case, he would have again to do something only the same 3 players mentioned above have done after the age of 34 in a single season in the history of the League: Malone and English did it twice, while Jordan did it only once. Averaging that for 5 consecutive seasons? A tall order, to say the least.
Now, let's get deeper into that. Kobe can actually be a 25-point-scorer for the next two seasons, this is clearly possible. After that he will be 36 and will surely show the wears and tears of 18 NBA seasons on his body. His minutes will go down, and so will his shots. Can he still average close to 25-per-game and play a minimum of 75 games in each of the next 3 seasons? Never doubt Kobe, but remember he would have to do that for 3 straight seasons, something only Karl Malone has been able to accomplish, in a lone season, at 36. How about averaging more than 20 ppg but playing 82 games-per-season? As already said, Kobe has played 82 games only 4 times in his career and nobody expects him to become more durable as his career is reaching its tail end.
All in all, surpassing Abdul-Jabbar in only 5 more seasons is not an easy task for Kobe. He would have to do something nobody else has ever done in NBA History and do it in consecutive seasons. Something that would be both historical and mythical. Can he do that? Yes, he clearly has the strength of will and the competitive edge to do it. Is it likely? Not that much. Nobody knows how his body will respond after that many years in the league and injuries, unfortunately, are very possible at that age. And, last but not least, nobody knows if he is willing to keep playing for another 5 years.
Meanwhile, if he keeps playing for 8 more seasons, like stated previously, Bryant needs to average about 15 points-per-game, playing an average of 75 games in each season, from now on. Considering he will average no less than 20 points-per-game for the next couple of years this could very well be possible. But will his body hold up? And, more importantly, is he willing to play 8 more seasons in the NBA, or even as many seasons as he needs, in order to surpass Kareem? Is he willing to take a reduced role for that? This is questionable. Even more questionable after his recent statement about retiring in 2 years.
Now, talking about the “youngsters." Two other players can set their sights on Kareem's leadership in the all-time scoring list: LeBron James and Kevin Durant. James is only 27 and has already scored 19045 points in his 9-year NBA career. Durant, 23, stands at 9978 points scored in just 5 seasons.
Barring injuries and other lockout-shortened seasons (take in mind that the lockouts in 1998 and 2011 robbed Bryant of almost 50 games and 1000 points), this two have a chance to catch and surpass Kareem by the end of their careers. That is, if they keep up with their current scoring-rhythm. Not that simple, to say the least. LeBron is more than 19000 points away, Durant more than 28000. The first needs to hypothetically average at least 23 ppg for the next 10 years. The other needs to do the same thing for at least 15 years. Durant, even though he has scored about 700 points less than LeBron through their respective first 5 seasons in the NBA, is more of a true scorer. Keep in mind that last season was shortened by the lockout and Durant has been playing alongside another scorer in Russell Westbrook since his second season in the NBA. At the same time LeBron was the main and only scorer in Cleveland. Furthermore, Durant has more range on his shot and shoots more from the outside, while LeBron tends to drive more to the basket, a skill that should diminish as he ages.
Who, between these two, has the best chance to break Kareem's record? Durant is more of a true scorer and has already led the league in scoring 3 straight times, while LeBron has been able to do so only once. Anyway it is unlikely, if not impossible, that they will continue to score like that for more than 10 years. So, the best guess is, actually, none of them.
Catching Kareem is not something easy to do. Karl Malone came close to the feat but retired, at 40, just 1459 points shy of it. Kareem total points scored remain as one of the most unbreakable records in NBA history, alongside Wilt's 100-point game and Robert Parish's 1611 games played, among others.
So, can Kobe (or Durant, or LeBron or anybody else) catch Kareem? Only time will tell. Kobe is the closest to the feat right now and he is nearing the end of his career. He still needs 9000 points and as said above it will not be an easy task getting them. Anyway if there is anybody who can do this, Kobe Bryant is the man. Never, ever, bet against the Black Mamba.
Perhaps you missed “Inside the NBA” on Sunday night following the Thunders demolishment of the Houston Rockets. If so, let me fill you in on a comment made by Charles Barkley referring to the day’s activities. Sir Charles stated “This may be the worst playoffs we have ever seen.” …
With the NBA playoffs just under way it is time to take a quick look back at the regular season and evaluate which individual players and coach made the greatest contributions to their respective franchises success this year.
We will start our in-depth analysis with Most Valuable Player, Candidates: LeBron James
Most observers of the NBA have all but already anointed the Miami Heat as the 2013 Eastern Conference Champions. In the West there seems to be more of a competition but the overwhelming opinion has the Oklahoma City Thunder emerging from there to meet the Heat. …