The annual milestone watch is always fun to keep an eye on when it comes to the NBA.
A number of star players are chasing historical milestones around the league this season, so let’s check in with a few before opening night.
What better place is there to start than the player who is attempting to become the greatest scorer the game has ever seen?
Entering year 19 in the league, LeBron James is still chasing down Michael Jordan’s benchmark of six titles and five MVPs.
One mantle he has already topped MJ in is scoring, with his eyes firmly set on becoming the game’s greatest point scorer in history.
James trails Malone by 1,561 points entering the 2021-22 season. That is a mark he has failed to top only twice in his career. Unfortunately, those two seasons were 2019 and 2021 when one of the great iron men in league history suffered season-altering injuries.
If he can stay healthy, there should be only one name ahead of LeBron on the all-time scoring list by season’s end.
In other categories, James is just 304 assists away from becoming the seventh player in history to reach 10,000 assists. 249 rebounds will also see him reach the 10,000 mark.
Those two milestones would make him the first player in NBA history to top 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists.
With a championship and a Finals MVP now in his collection, Antetokounmpo figures to jump back in the regular season MVP conversation.
Already a two-time winner of the award, the Milwaukee superstar could join a very select group if he is able to take home a third.
|Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||1971, ’72, ’74, ’76, ’77, ’80|
|Bill Russell||1958, ’61, ’62, ’63, ’65|
|Michael Jordan||1988, ’91, ’92, ’96, ’98|
|Wilt Chamberlain||1960, ’66, ’67, ’68|
|LeBron James||2009, ’10, ’12, ’13|
|Moses Malone||1979, ’82, ’83|
|Larry Bird||1984, ’85, ’86|
|Magic Johnson||1987, ’89, ’90|
In addition to a possible third MVP, Antetokounmpo is once again one of the favourites to win Defensive Player of the Year.
If he is to become a two-time winner of the MVP and DPOY, he become the first player in NBA history to win each award twice. It is worth noting DPOY wasn’t introduced until 1982-83, more than 20 years after the MVP was first awarded.
Speaking of Defensive Player of the Year…
Utah Jazz big man, Rudy Gobert is in pursuit of Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace as the only four-time winners.
Could voter fatigue or playoff performances hurt his chances? Time will tell.
Paul is on his way into the top three for all-time assists.
Leading the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals in 2021, Paul dished out 622 dimes during the regular season – his highest total since 2016 with the LA Clippers.
That total leaves him on 10,275 career assists. Entering the 2021-22 season, Paul sits fifth on the all-time list behind Mark Jackson (10,334), Steve Nash (10,335), Jason Kidd (12,091) and John Stockton (12,806).
A measly 61 assists would see CP3 leapfrog Jackson and Nash, leaving him trailing only Kidd and Stockton.
Projecting ahead, Paul would likely need to play three more high-level seasons to reach Kidd and a fourth to track down Stockton.
Looking at the all-time rebounding list you get a real sense of the historic path Howard was taking early in his career. Now a role player with the Lakers, Howard is a five-time NBA rebounding champ to go along with his long list of individual accolades.
Howard is the only active player in the top-40 for rebounding, with some names still to hurdle in the twilight of his career.
Howard is 12th on the all-time list with 14,271 boards to his name. The 35-year-old has averaged 543 rebounds over the last two seasons and is expected to play a similar role this year. 543 boards would see him jump Nate Thurmond (14,464), Kevin Garnett (14,662) and Robert Parish (14,715) and move into ninth on the all-time list.
If he can reach the 15,000 mark next season he would move by Karl Malone (14,968) and into eighth.
If last season taught us anything, it’s that watching Durant score in a variety of ways is a pure delight.
Durant threatened to single-handedly carry the Brooklyn Nets to victory in the second round against the eventual champion Bucks and now has 25,000 points in his sight.
KD has tallied 23,883 points thus far and if he stays healthy, he should become the 27th player in history to cross the 25,000 mark.
The revival of Carmelo Anthony has been a feel-good story over the last 12-to-18 months in NBA circles.
Now with the Lakers, Anthony has a real shot at reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. He is also within touching distance of the top-10 on the all-time scoring list.
I’ll leave it up to you, but I think this one might be a bit of a stretch for Anthony, depending on the role Frank Vogel has him playing on this Lakers roster.
Currently with 27,370 points next to his name, the 37-year-old sits 1,226 points behind Shaquille O’Neal in 10th place.
To reach Shaq, Anthony would have to average 17.5 points per game across 70 appearances in 2020-21. If he is able and willing to play into the 2022-23 season, this marker might be more attainable next year.