Among active NBA players, there are two players (Kobe Bryant & Dirk Nowitzki) that are in the top 10 of the league’s all-time greatest scorers, with a good chance of moving up at least one spot this season. Three more players – Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Tim Duncan are in the top 20, while Ray Allen, LeBron James, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison and Carmelo Anthony complete the list of players in the all-time top 40.
How do things change this season? We can say for sure that Kevin Garnett won’t be scoring too much. We can be less sure about Jamison actually playing next season. The rest? It’s mostly based on what they did over the last couple of years, assuming no injuries get in the way.
10th – Carmelo Anthony, 19,958 Points
On the all-time list, Anthony is 40th. He needs only 42 points to become the 40th NBA player with 20,000 career points, and it’s something that he might actually do on his first game. As for where he ends up this season: Anthony isn’t a man of steel, but he did play 77 games last season, and it’s safe to assume he’ll make it to that mark or something close to it. With the Knicks being the same team, Anthony should be scoring at the same pace – about 27-28 points per game. Last season we saw 2112 points from him in total, and another season like that will put him at 22,070, good enough for 30th all-time.
9th – *Antawn Jamison, 20,042 Points
Jamison is 84 points and one spot above Anthony on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. For now he doesn’t have a team, and he might end up retiring if the interest in him continues to be this minuscule if existent at all. He played only 22 games last season for the Clippers, scoring a total of 84 points. Lets say we don’t expect a significant climb from Jamison this season.
8th – LeBron James, 23,170 Points
On the all-time list, LeBron James is currently 27th. He has scored 2000 points or more in nine of his 11 NBA seasons. His rookie year and the shortened NBA season were the only ones with him not reaching that mark. James played 77 games last season for the Heat, 76 in the year before. His average is going to drop: Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are younger than Bosh and Wade, and bigger offensive threats at this point. There’s also no hierarchy at the moment in terms of who takes the shots. We’re assuming James drops to 25 points per game, maybe a big higher, putting him at 2000 points. The 25,170 mark should put him at 18th all-time, but there are others above him ready to make some moves as well.
7th – Vince Carter, 23,190 Points
At the moment, Carter is 25th on the All-Time list. Joining the Memphis Grizzlies, he will be playing for a team that doesn’t score as much as the Mavs did last season. Still, Carter seems to be a good bet to give 20-25 quality minutes off the bench. He played 81 games in each of the last two seasons. He scored 967 points last season, and it should go down to about 900 this year, averaging about 10-11 points per game. That will put him at over 24,000 points, and 23rd on the all-time list.
6th – *Ray Allen, 24,505 Points
Like Jamison, Allen still doesn’t have a team for next season. Unlike Jamison, a few teams actually want him and if rumors are to be believed, he’ll be playing for the Cavs in 2014-2015. Allen hasn’t had injury problems during his two years with the Heat, playing a total of 152 games, averaging 10.3 points per game. Next year? We expect about 8 points per game on 75 games – 600 points, which should push Allen just one stop higher because of two players just above him on the all-time list.
5th – Tim Duncan, 24,904 Points
At the moment, Duncan is 19th all-time. He averaged 15.1 points per game last season, playing 29.2 minutes and 74 games. It’s hard to project games and minutes for a Spurs player because of the rest and rotations Popovich uses. Duncan has been mostly healthy for quite some time during his resurgent years, leading up to a fifth NBA title. Playing 70 games and averaging 14 points a night sounds fair? Lets make it 14.5, which means 1015 points and making it to 25,919, which should put him in the top 15 all-time.
4th – Paul Pierce, 25,031 Points
One season in Brooklyn was enough for Paul Pierce. He’ll be playing for the Washington Wizards next season, probably as a starter, averaging around 25-28 minutes a night. He scored 13.5 points per game last season for the Nets and although he isn’t consistent, expecting anything less than 12 points a night wouldn’t be reasonable. So about 75 games at 12.5 points per game should mean 938 points, rising to 14th or 15th on the all-time list from his current 18th spot.
3rd – Kevin Garnett, 25,626 Points
Garnett still has a contract with the Nets, but he might actually retire by the time this season begins. He played only 54 games last season, scoring a total of 352 points. He’s 14th on the all-time list, but not expecting him to play more than 60 games and average more than six points per game, he’s not moving any higher than he currently is and might be passes by both Pierce and Duncan.
2nd – Dirk Nowtizk, 26,786 Points
On the all-time list Dirk Nowitzki is currently 10th, between Hakeem Olajuwon and Oscar Robertson. How far can he go? He averaged 21.7 points per game last season, playing 80 (!!!) games. He’s 36, but is still one of the best and most unique scorers in the NBA. So what it’s going to be this season? Lets assume he declines a bit, to 20 points per game. Games? We believe he’ll be OK, so 80 games, which means 1600 points. How far does that take him? To 7th all-time, just below Shaq but blasting past Hakeem, Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone.
1st – Kobe Bryant, 31,700 Points
Maybe the most difficult to project. Bryant tore his achilles tendon at the end of the 2012-2013 season, and played only six games last season for various injuries and possibly getting shut down by the team. He’ll be 36 by the end of this month. Is he still a guy who can score between 25 to 27 points per game, like he has been for every season but one since 2000? Last season with six games doesn’t really count.
Bryant wants to win titles. He wants to pass Kareem at the top of this list. Will it happen? We’ll have a perfect gauge of that through this season. Our current bet? He’ll play 65 game and average 22.5 points per game – 1460 points more or less. He needs 592 to get past Michael Jordan, moving up to third on the all-time list, but it’s going to take a lot more to reach Karl Malone (36,928).