LeBron James is having a magical season at age 37 because his numbers across the board are unimaginably great. The King is averaging 29.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 6.2 APG while shooting 52.2% from the field and 35.7% from three. Still an unstoppable force at attacking the basket, LeBron James is simply one of a kind.
No player has been as great for as long as James, and not even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was this good in his 19th season. James has looked as if he was in his prime at times this season, even though he is unable to get the Los Angeles Lakers to a .500 record. Quite frankly, without James playing at an elite level and scoring the ball as a top-3 scorer in the game, the Lakers would be in the lottery instead of fighting for a playoff spot.
LeBron James has been required to shoot the ball as much as possible, averaging 21.5 field goal attempts this year, his highest since the 2008 season at age 23. The King is not normally recognized for being a scorer who wants to take the most shots on the court, but he has been thrust into that role this year and has managed to climb the scoring ranks as a result of that. Sitting second all-time in points scored, LeBron also has a shot to win his second scoring title.
LeBron passing Karl Malone for second all-time in points scored is an extraordinary achievement, but how long does The King have before he catches and eventually passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the top spot? LeBron is 37 years and 81 days old, meaning he is turning 38 in a little under a year. Even at his age, James will become the leading scorer ever and it is only a matter of time.
Passing Karl Malone Is One Big Step To The Ultimate Goal
Perhaps ten years ago, nobody would have predicted that LeBron James would be playing at this special level in his 19th season. The King is not only the most unstoppable payer at attacking the rim, but he has developed his offensive skills including mastering the mid-range fadeaway and improving his three-point shot. Unlike a younger LeBron James, this version of The King is not a liability from the perimeter anymore.
The fact that James has passed Malone, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan to sit firmly in second place in terms of total points scored is a testament to LeBron’s incredible longevity and consistency as a superstar. James has yet to experience a major injury, things that have plagued almost every superstar in NBA history. LeBron takes care of himself better than anybody, but also benefitted greatly from genetic gifts.
Standing 6’9” and weighing 250 lbs, LeBron is one of the most physically dominant stars ever and is also the greatest all-around player of all time. James is the only player in the 10k points, 10k rebounds, and 10k assists club; and ranks 2nd in total points scored, 7th in assists, and 39th in rebounds. Accumulating these stats and surpassing Karl Malone thanks to a season average of 29.8 PPG in year 19 is the last milestone before James eventually becomes the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
LeBron James Will Become The All-Time Leader In Points Scored Next Season
LeBron James is putting up nearly 30 PPG this season, and it is very unlikely that The King will average that amount of points next year. Assuming James falls to his career average of 27.1 PPG next season, he will likely pass Kareem in under 50 games of next season. James has 10 games remaining this season and assuming he averages at least 25 PPG over those games, he will take his point total to 37,235 at the end of the 2021-2022 season.
That leaves James with a deficit of 1,152 points. If he averages 27.1 PPG next season, he will catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in only 43 games. Even if LeBron slows down a little bit and averages 24 PPG, James will catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 48 games. There is no question that The King will end up the leading scorer of all-time next year, as long as he continues playing at an All-Star level.
Incredibly, James will catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar even if he only averages 18 PPG next season which is unrealistic considering what we have seen from him this year. Even when averaging only 18 PPG, LeBron will pass Kareem in only 64 games. Looking deeper into the stats, it is important to realize the difference between LeBron’s game vs. Kareem’s.
James has made 11,386 2-point field goals and 2,130 three-pointers, along with 7,823 free throws. An elite scorer around the rim, The King greatly benefitted from playing in the three-point era because he was able to generate a lot more points than Kareem from the perimeter. Alternatively, Kareem had 15,836 2-point field goals, only 1 three-pointer, and 6,712 free throws.
It is very interesting to see the breakdown of these stats because it shows how two different players with different playing styles can sit head and shoulders above everyone else in NBA history in terms of longevity. There is no way that The King will retire before capturing the all-time record, a massive boost in his argument for being the greatest talent of all time.
Where Does LeBron James Rank Among The Greatest Scorers Of All Time?
Assuming LeBron James expectedly passes Kareem next year and captures the record for most points scored in NBA history, he will have his name etched in NBA lore as an all-time great scorer. James is already considered the greatest player of all time to many NBA fans, but he does not seem to be mentioned among the all-time great in terms of scoring.
The likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Allen Iverson, and Wilt Chamberlain have all been considered better scorers than LeBron. James has managed to pass each one of these stars until this point, mainly because of his incredible longevity. With the exception of Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron does not possess the natural skills to score the ball like the players mentioned above.
James refined his game to include perimeter shooting as he gained more experience but was always a locomotive when attacking the rim. Mainly because of his incredible size, James could bulldoze his way to the basket and deserves credit for making the most of his physical gifts. The likes of Jordan, Bryant, and Durant all have refined dribble moves and counter moves against opponents better than James; but LeBron has played long enough to surpass all of them and his name should be mentioned alongside those stars for conversation of the greatest scorer ever.