Reasonable and objective response to some chatter on the Dan Patrick show about the future all-time scoring leader.
Will LeBron or Kevin Durant Eventually Be The All-Time NBA Points Leader?
On Friday's DP show, Dan Patrick asked Dennis Scott if Kevin Durant had a chance to someday be the NBA's all-time leading scorer. That piqued my interest, is it a good possibility that Kevin Durant could achieve this plateau considering he's only played in the NBA for 11 years? To gain more context and information to confirm or refute that hypothetical, I need to determine his DOB, current point amount, game scoring average, average number of games player so far per season. I knew Wikipedia could provide an easy interface to capture some of these details. In addition, among active players, I would only consider two of the all-time greats in this review.
Wikipedia provided some interesting data on these two great stars of the NBA, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Once the information was gathered and seriously analyzed, I may have a better educated guess if either of these two players have a good shot to achieve this important milestone for their career.
Let's get to it and first look at age, LeBron is 33 and Kevin is 29, a 4-year disparity.
As of June 8, 2018, LBJ has scored 31,038 points to Durant's 20,913. A difference of 10,125 points - about a 5 year difference between the two so let's look at average points per game.
These numbers are eerily close, LeBron has a 27.2 average during his career and Kevin is very closely behind at 27.1. If you factor in both of these players have combined for over 51,000 points, their averages are almost identical.
For discussion, let's say LeBron hangs up his sneakers today and turns to Hollywood. Then, what would the numbers look like? If KD continues to average 27.1 for the next 4 years and assuming he plays in all 82 season, that (2,222 points times 4 seasons) equals 8,888 points. If you add the 5th season, the number increases to 11,110, which would be about 1000 points more than LBJ. One must also realize there's a strong possibility he won't play in all 82 games for the next 4 years let alone 1 year as his career average is 70 games per season.
I think KD will average more than 70 games a season for the next several seasons. To be fair, I increased his average to 74 games for the next several years. His 4-year total then would equal 8,022 points, the 5 year amount would be 10,027, short of LeBron by 98 points.
We don’t know how many more years LeBron or KD will play. Nor do we know what injuries might impact either player. Will Kevin’s scoring average improve in the next few years while he’s still in his prime? Will LeBron continue to average 27.2 points per game even though he’s closer to 35 than 30 and may only have 3-5 good years left? Because KD plays for the Golden State Warriors with arguably 3 other stars, his future scoring average will probably not exceed his career average. My other guess is that LeBron's average might slightly dip a point or two per game if he plays another 3-5 years.
However, if they both play until they’re 36 (LeBron 3 more and KD 7) at this same level barring no major injuries, Durant will not catch LeBron’s totals. In addition, at these career averages, playing until you’re 36 will not garner either player to catch the all-time leader, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. LeBron would gain another 6,202 points, to push him past Karl Malone into second place with 37,240 points but short of Jabbar's 38,387.
If LeBron plays until he is 37 and averaged 20 points per game for that last season where the other seasons he achieves his career averages, that would push him into the all-time NBA leading scorer with 38,760. If Kevin played to age 37 in good health at 27.1 points per game for 74 games per season for the next 8 seasons, while LeBron hung up his sneakers at 36, you could have a real dogfight on your hands. Kevin's totals would equal 36,956 to LeBron's 37,240 (LeBron 3 more years at 76 games per season at 27.2).
My prediction, neither will surpass Kareem as the all-time scoring leader. However, within the next 7 years or so, they will be in the top 4 all-time with LeBron slightly edging KD in total points. Regardless, great basketball players who will have incredible numbers once they throw away their sneakers.