This story first appeared on ClutchPoints.
He actually did it. Many people doubted he could it. Yet here we are. In his 19th year in the league, LeBron James has become the NBA’s second-leading all-time scorer (36,947), surpassing Karl Malone (36,928). It was theorized before that he could do it, but it wasn’t really clear whether it would happen.
Now, LeBron starts another chase: this time, he’s hunting down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), the NBA’s leading all-time scorer. While LeBron looks to add another achievement to his legacy, let’s look at the stars that are the most likely to make it to the No. 2 spot James occupies currently.
Stephen Curry (20,064 points)
A lot of people might be infuriated that Stephen Curry is merely an honorable mention here.
The Golden State Warriors star is one of the best scorers in the NBA, so what gives?
Well, his age and his current total. Curry is already 34 years old: an old man in the NBA. We talk about his game aging gracefully with age, but even despite that, it’s unlikely he’ll ever chase down LeBron.
Curry sits at just above 20,000 points, a far cry from LeBron’s 36,947. He’ll have to average over 50 points per game in his last seasons to chase James, which is unlikely.
Carmelo Anthony (28,218 points)
Had Carmelo been a more efficient scorer during his prime (or shot more threes than long twos), it would’ve been possible for him to crack the top 5 in the NBA all-time scoring list. He’s currently second in the active scoring leaderboard, which is impressive by itself.
At this rate, though, Melo will have to settle for a top 10 finish. Which, honestly, is still pretty impressive in it’s own right.
Kevin Durant (25,176 points)
It can be argued that Kevin Durant is the NBA’s best pure scorer of all-time. The Brooklyn Nets star’s calling card has been his ridiculous scoring abilities.
Whether it’s through pull-ups from the mid-range to silky-smooth drives to the rim to catch-and-shoot threes, the man has it all. He’s easily the most well-rounded scorer right now, at least.
The biggest reason why Durant can easily catch up to LeBron in the NBA scoring leaderboard is his consistency and not relying on athleticism. Durant is always good for at least 25 points per game in his entire career. Instead of insane scoring bursts like other guys, KD can score 30 points on you every single night.
It also helps that he doesn’t rely on athleticism too much in his scoring game. Unlike Russell Westbrook, Ja Morant, and other high-flying guards, KD relies on solid fundamentals and his length to score from anywhere. It’s easy to see him still drop 30-point games at an older age.
James Harden (23,264 points)
James Harden is just a tad younger than his former teammate KD (32 years old for Harden, 33 for KD), but he’s not far behind him in the scoring total.
Despite being a sixth man for a few years, he’s up there in terms of scoring thanks to his large workload in Houston. There, he proved that an NBA-caliber scorer can thrive on threes, layups, and free throws.
It’s for these reasons why Harden could very well chase down LeBron’s title as second-best all-time scorer. If he has to carry another team on his back like what he did with the Rockets, it’s possible for him to put up monster numbers across the board. That could easily propel him to the top of the league.
The one thing holding Harden back, though, is his lack of an in-between game. The threat of a step-back three is made even more deadly by The Beard’s slashing attack. Take away his shiftiness and sudden acceleration, and teams will be more willing to allow him to attack the paint.
Luka Doncic (6,626 points)
Luka Doncic’s scoring prowess is not to be underestimated. He’s only been in the league for four years, but the Slovenian wunderkind has been one of the best lights-out scorers in the NBA.
Much like Harden, his step-back three and slashing game allow him to manipulate his defenders to his liking. He can torch you in any way possible, and he’ll do it in style.
It’s very possible that Luka Doncic will be able to chase down LeBron’s record at some point. Unlike Bron, Luka already has a reliable three-ball in his pocket. The bubble and a shortened season could slow him down, but don’t be surprised if we’re on Luka-watch 20 years from now.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (14,077 points)
Oh, Giannis. Where do we even begin with you?
Despite a slow rookie campaign (and a meh sophomore year), Antetokounmpo shot his way through the NBA’s active scoring leaderboard. He now sits at just above 14,000 points, which isn’t too bad for a guy who has had struggles shooting the ball.
The main thing holding Giannis back from getting to the second place in the all-time scoring leaderboard is his play-style. He plays like LeBron in the sense that he prefers attacking the paint with his athleticism. However, playing like that often tends to shorten a player’s career (James being the exception to that rule). Then again, Giannis does seem to have the same bionic healing that LeBron has shown…
One final note
It’s also entirely possible for none of these guys to even come close to LeBron. Lasting 19 years in the NBA is an incredible achievement on its own. Lasting 19 years as a consistent 25+ PPG guy is near-impossible, and yet LeBron did it. His career is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, something we may never see again.
Still, it’s fun to speculate whether anyone can touch LeBron. Who knows? Maybe one day, we’ll get someone else as transcendent as him in the NBA. – Rappler.com
Scores for every player taken from stats.nba.com on March 19, 2022