When people think of the game's greatest scorers, guys like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar come to mind immediately.
Even Karl Malone, Kevin Durant, and James Harden are thrown in the conversation. For whatever reason, LeBron James seems to be left out. Most likely due to his playing style, James always predicated his game on moving the ball and being the primary playmaker for his team.
He plays unselfishly, and always makes the right plays on the floor in critical moments rather than taking the shots himself. While this has drawn some criticism to his ability to be a clutch player when it matters most, this is how LeBron James plays the game that is most natural to him. It would be silly for him to play the game any differently since he dominates all aspects of the court.
It is the playing style of LeBron that may fool you into thinking he is not a capable scorer of the highest level, but make no mistake he could end up being the number one scorer to have ever lived. After all, James has a career scoring average of 27.07 PPG, which ranks fourth all-time. LeBron's ability to get to the rim whenever he wants, paired with the meticulous work he added into his jump shot as he matured, James is simply a phenomenal scorer.
The fact that scoring is a secondary part of his game is the most impressive thing since he prefers to play an all-around game to help his team win. But he can score with ease because he is one of the most gifted athletes in sports history, and he can get two or three points every time he attacks the rim, gets out on the fast break, or makes runs to the rim. When he gets hot, he is as good a shooter as anybody in the league, so sagging off him isn't an option either.
Right now LeBron James sits in third place above Kobe Bryant as the games third-leading scorer of all time. His next target is Karl Malone, and finally, the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
No one would have predicted that a player could ever have a chance at surpassing Kareem, who had a career spanning two decades into his 40's. Kareem's ability to shoot the skyhook shot made him unguardable, and that is the main reason he was so dominant as a scorer. The fact that LeBron James had a chance to surpass him as the game's greatest scorer of all time is truly incredible and could be one of his greatest achievements.
Here is how James can pass Kareem to reign king as the player who scored the most points in NBA history.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 38,387 Points
LeBron James: 33,817 Points
Right now, James sits 4,570 points behind Kareem who is at the number one spot.
Assuming that LeBron James plays 25 out of the remaining 29 games this season, it is reasonable to predict that James will score another 500 points bringing his point total to 34,317 total points. This means that he will only need 4,071 points to surpass Kareem and become the NBA's leading scorer.
If James plays two full seasons (75 games per season), along with only 27 games in the 2022-2023 season, LeBron James will have enough opportunity to shatter Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's incredible scoring record.
Thanks to his tandem with Anthony Davis, James has positioned himself for a longer career to where he can rely on Davis to be the focal point of the team while James paces himself at his age.
Since he is with the Lakers, one of the more dominant teams in the league right now, it is also assumed that James will be playing in the playoffs for the next three years and proceeding to the Western Conference Semi-Finals at the very least. Therefore, that might hinder his ability to play 70 games per season on average, although the Lakers will likely continue to make roster moves to provide help and keep LeBron rested as much as possible.
Of course, James will need to have the desire to pass Kareem, which every superstar player in history would love to do. If he plays in garbage time, pads his stats, and takes the most shots on the team, he can be number one in points scored when it is all said and done.
The numbers back it up, LeBron's track record backs it up, and all there is left for LeBron to do is to just do it. Of course, this will be no easy feat, since James mostly relies on his physical ability to score points around the basket.
If he can manage to continue taking care of his body, which he might be the best at doing so, James can realistically end his career as being the greatest scorer in NBA history. But another factor comes into play here: health. James has been very fortunate to have never had any severe injury and knock on wood, he might never experience that. If he can play at a moderate pace for three more seasons, James will have everything to make number one on the scoring list.
Not too bad for a pass-first player, and this would be another shining achievement on the resume of one of the greatest athletes in the history of professional sports.