Dirk Nowitzki made history this week when he drained his 30,000th career point. It’s such a tough feat to accomplish, only five other players in the history of the league have managed to do so (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain). Nowitzki not only became the sixth person to be part of the elusive club, but also the first international player to crack it.
And he did it all so quietly. The 38-year-old has consistently put up gaudy numbers throughout his 19-year career with Dallas yet is/was rarely mentioned in conversations about the league’s best. Mavs fans showed the big German some much earned respect last night, giving him a standing ovation after he draining his record-setting bucket in the second quarter the Mavs’ win over the Lakers.
With 28,360 points, LeBron James will most likely be the next one to join the exclusive 30,000-point club. Who else has a shot? Here’s a look at the current odds for the NBA’s most prolific scorers.
As mentioned, LeBron needs just over 1,500 points to reach the milestone. Out of context, that sounds like a lot. But consider that he’s averaging 26 points per game this year, meaning that, at his current pace, it’ll take him around 64 games to reach 30,000. Expect it to happen by early January 2018.
Carmelo is also close; he needs just over 5,500 more points. As of right now, Melo is averaging 23.2 PPG for the season, putting him on track for 1,857 this year. That said, he’s already in his 14th season, so who knows how long that type of output will last. If he does stay on track, it’ll take him just under three more years to get to 30,000. I think there’s enough life in those 32-year-old legs.
After ten seasons in the league (yeah, I’m closing the door on his 2016-17 campaign), Durant has scored more than 18,000 points. This year, he’s averaging just over 25 points per game, but his game has been put on hold due to a knee injury. Will it dampen his career once he returns? Hard to say. You have to figure that Durant likely has at least another five or so good seasons left in him. If he roughly keeps scoring at his current pace, he’ll get in or come uber close.
Westbrook is halfway there, but it took nine seasons to do so. He’s in his prime right now, on pace to put up over 2,600 points this year. But there is a key word there: pace. Averaging 32.1 points per game isn’t something that Westbrook will likely be able to keep up, not with the explosive nature of his game. He has the kind of athleticism that tends to ebb quickly once you hit a certain age. That said, he’s still on the right side of 30 (turning 29 in November) and it would only take 5.5 seasons at this current pace to reach 30,000. The more likely path to 30,000 sees him playing eight or nine more years at a reduced pace. It’s not out of the question by any means, especially if OKC continues to surround him with mediocre talent.
After his second season, Harden started consistently putting up points. Now in his eighth year, he’s averaged at least 25 PPG in five straight seasons. He should score about 2,377 points this season, which would put him a little over 14,000 career. He’d need seven to ten more years to get there, and you don’t often see careers that long anymore, not super-productive ones anyway.
Stephen Curry: 10/1
Is it surprising Steph Curry is this low on the list? Maybe. The “Baby-Faced Assassin” isn’t as young as he looks. Turning 29 in a couple weeks, he may have reached his peak. Averaging 24.9 PPG on the year, Curry is on pace to put up just under 2,000 points this season, which would put him around 14,000 career, as well. It could take eight more seasons to get to 30,000, and that’s only if he stays on pace, which isn’t likely.
Isaiah Thomas: 50/1
Isaiah Thomas is crushing it this year, but the game-to-game consistency he’s showing is new. The 28-year-old, who’s battled injuries, is averaging 29.5 points per game this year, yet is only sitting on about 8,500 career points. He needs over 21,000 more. Even if he keeps scoring roughly 30 PPG, it would still take eight years to get to 30,000. Not likely.
Paul Pierce: 100/1
Paul Pierce sits second behind King James on the active-player point list with 26,364. But don’t expect him to reach the milestone. The guy is in his 19th NBA season, and doesn’t have man (any?) more left in him. Not to mention the fact that he’s averaging less than four points per game these days; draining 3,600 more points seems impossible.
Photo credit: By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Rashard Lewis and Dirk Nowitzki) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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