Now that LeBron James is the all-time leading scorer in NBA history, of course we’re going to look at who might be able to break his record. James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first on the all-time scoring list by reaching 38,388 points in his career on Tuesday night vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Los Angeles Lakers All-Star still has plenty left in the tank, so the record likely won’t settle on that number. So who can realistically pass James at some point in time? Will anybody break the record? We take a look.
LeBron is 38 years old and it doesn’t appear he wants to step away from basketball anytime soon. If that’s the case, lets assume James plays another 4-5 seasons. In terms of raw points, James will likely average around 1,500-1,600 points per season the rest of his career. Maybe more, maybe less. Assuming James plays say another four seasons and averages around 1,500 points per season. That would put him at just under 45,000 for his career.
The closest player not named Carmelo Anthony is Kevin Durant, who enters Tuesday night with 26,684 career points. KD is four years younger but has also dealt with more injuries than James and likely isn’t as durable. In a good season, Durant can score upwards of 2,000 points. The thing is he hasn’t had a “good season” since 2018-19 with the Dubs. So similarly, Durant is probably looking at playing another 5-6 seasons and averaging around 1,500-1,600 points (pending injuries). Maybe Durant passes Kareem. There’s a very slim chance the Slim Reaper passes LeBron.
James Harden has fewer points than Durant by about a season or two and is around the same age. Very unlikely Harden does it. Though The Beard should climb quite a bit and get into the top-10 at least. Same goes for Russell Westbrook, though he’s a tad behind Harden and not nearly the same scorer as in his prime. Even Giannis Antetokounmpo is a long shot to sniff James’ record. The Greek Freak would need to play at least 12-15 more seasons and average about 2,000 points per season.
That brings us to Luka Doncic. The Dallas Mavericks’ star has the best shot of anyone. Chances are by the end of the regular season, Doncic will be right around 9,000 career points. He’ll be 24 years old at the end of February. So plenty of career ahead of him. So let’s say Doncic averages around 1,900-2,000 points per season through his prime, which we’ll say carries on the next decade or so. By the time Doncic is in his mid-30s, he should be close to 28,000 career points in the regular season. Give or take a couple thousand. If he outperforms those numbers, maybe he’s around 30K by his early 30s.
Even at that rate, he’s looking at having to score another, say, 15,000 points to pass LeBron from the time he’s in his mid-30s to the end of his career. That is if he holds up that long and plays into his late 30s and even early 40s. Even projecting that out using very, very rough math, it looks unlikely Doncic will have a shot at passing LeBron. Doncic will have a pretty good shot of landing somewhere in the top-5 scorers of all-time, which isn’t half bad.
The short answer is no. Chances are no one will break James’ scoring record, at least not for a while.