Comparing LeBron James’ Scoring Record to Other NBA Stars
LeBron James, Michael Porter Jr., Lakers, Nuggets
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The National Basketball League (NBA) has a long and storied history, with many game nights being historical occasions. However, March 2, 2024, stands out from the crown and will forever be etched into the memories of every basketball player and fan because it was the night that the legendary LeBron James became the first-ever player to reach 40,000 career points.

James reached the iconic milestone in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 114-124 loss to the Denver Nuggets. With 10:39 left in the second quarter, James spun around Michael Porter Jr, drove the lane, and hit a layup, becoming the first NBA player to reach 40,000 points. James received a standing ovation during the next timeout. Still, the accomplishment was bittersweet because the Lakers slumped to their 29th defeat of the regular season, which left them as firm outsiders to reach the playoffs, never mind winning the NBA Championship.

James’ Incredible Record

James was already the NBA record point scorer before hitting the magical 40,000-point mark. At the time of writing, James had played 1,475 games and scored 40,017 points for an average of 27.1 points per game. The future Hall of Famer has made 14,760 field goals, 2,381 three-pointers, and 8,296 free throws, which are astounding by anyone’s standards.

Amazingly, James has only been the NBA top scorer twice during his long and illustrious career. He scored 2,250 points with an average of 30.0 during the 2007-08 campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and 2,251 points in the 2017-18 season, although his 27.5 average placed him third in the standings. Consistency has been vital for James throughout his career.

The legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabber is the only player to get close to 40,000 career points; Abdul-Jabber scored 38,387 points across 1,560 professional games. The 7ft 2in center averaged 24.6 points per game thanks to 15,837 field goals, 6,712 free throws, and a singular three-point field goal; he scored his only three-pointer for the Lakers during the 1986-87 season.

From Rookie to Superstar

James’ basketball career has been extraordinary because the Ohio native never pursued a college education, opting to go straight from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and into the 2003 NBA Draft. As you would expect, James was an incredible high school talent rated as America’s best high school player by Slam magazine’s Ryan Jones in 2001.

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected James as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. James scored 25 points in his first regular season against the Sacramento Kings, setting a record for the most points scored by a prep-to-pro player on his debut. He ended his rookie season, having started 79 games, averaging 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.6 steals. Unsurprisingly, James won the coveted Rookie of the Year award.

Like a fine wine, James continued improving with age, and he moved to the Miami Heat in time for the 2010-11 season after winning back-to-back MVP awards. James was instrumental in the Heat winning the NBA Championship in 2012 and 2013, but he returned to the Cavaliers after only four seasons in Miami.

James spent four seasons with his beloved Cavaliers, guiding them to NBA glory in his penultimate campaign before signing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.

Despite being 34 years old when he put pen to paper in Los Angeles, James continued his fantastic scoring run, and his performances remained of the highest standard. Through 332 regular season games for the Lakers, James has averaged 27.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1.2 steals. Those are almost superhuman figures, considering James’ age.

Most Likely to Break James’ Record?

James is under contract with the Lakers until the conclusion of the 2024-25 season. By then, James will be 40 years old, making it challenging to think he has much more gas in the tank. It is public knowledge that playing on the court with his son, Bronny, is James’ dream. However, it would be down to Lady Luck if the Lakers signed Bronny while James was still actively playing, especially after Bronny’s cardiac arrest in July 2023.

One would imagine James will continue his prolific scoring if he remains fit throughout the rest of his Lakers contract. He has never scored fewer than 1,126 points during a regular season, that “lowly” figure coming in 2020-21 when James only played 45 times. If, and it is a big if, James retired at the end of 2024-25, he would probably finish his career with 42,000 or more points.

Kevin Durrant is the only active player in the NBA’s top ten scoring leaders. Durrant has 28,392 points from 1,040 games, for a 27.3 average. While that is 0.2 more points per game than James, Durrant is now 35, so Father Time is not on his side.

You’d have to look at some young guns to consider someone breaking James’ 40,000-point tally. Luka Doncic is only 24, yet he has played 383 games with a 28.5 average. Doncic makes an average of 2.9 three-pointers, 9.7 field goals, and 78.4% of his free throws, although Doncic has stated he does not plan to play basketball for 20 years like James has.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has an outside chance of catching James, but he must play for another decade. “The Greek Freak” has played 778 games over 11 seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 23.3 points. However, his last three seasons have seen him average 29.9, 31.1, and 30.8 points per game.

The Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum is another longshot, and this feature is based purely on the 25-year-old’s continually improving game. Now in his seventh pro season, Tatum’s points average has increased year-on-year, except this season. He averaged 30.1 points in 2022-23 and is currently on course for 27.1 this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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