As we inch closer to the start of another basketball season, we looked at the most historic potential milestones possible for NBA players.
LeBron, Dirk could pass Wilt Chamberlain in scoring
Dirk Nowitzki has the sixth-most points scored in league history. LeBron James, though seven years younger, is No. 7 overall in NBA points scored.
If he plays a full season, Nowitzki would need to average 14.1 points per game to pass Wilt Chamberlain and enter the Top 5. He has scored at least 14.2 points per game every year since 2000. In order to pass Chamberlain, his health will be the most integral factor.
James would need to average 32 points per game in a full season to pass Chamberlain, which he has never done, just above his career-high of 31.4 ppg. But without Irving as a scoring partner in Cleveland, James may have even more opportunities to dominate on offense.
If not, he will just continue his rise in the coming few seasons – though it may not be with the Cavaliers as he heads towards a potential impending free agency period next offseason.
Nowitzki Could Become No. 3 in total minutes
Nowitzki is currently No. 6 overall in minutes played. But if he is a focal point for Dallas, he can jump into the Top 3.
Last season, Nowitzki played the second-lowest amount of minutes in the history. But even if he gets exactly the same playing time next year, he will pass Elvin Hayes.
If he matches his activity from the 2015-16 season, he can pass former teammate Jason Kidd as well as longtime rival Kevin Garnett in total minutes played.
Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle recently spoke about how often he expects Nowitzki to play (via Mavs.com):
You know, I’d say mid-20s. … It would be good to get him to 26 (minutes per game). You know, it’s tricky, because if you play him too few minutes, he’ll never get into the flow of the game. And he’s very much a rhythm-and-flow player, so I have no concerns that we won’t be able to continue the transition and just try to lighten the load a little bit.”
For Nowitzki to have the third-most minutes played in NBA history, he would need to average 29 minutes per night in sixty games – or just 21 minutes per appearance over a full season.
And if he averages 26 minutes per night, as suggested, he would need to appear in 67 games (15 games of rest) to pass Garnett for No. 3 overall.
Chris Paul could become No. 10 in steals, No. 7 in assists
Now with the Houston Rockets and playing alongside James Harden, it’s no secret Paul will have plenty of opportunities to get assists next season.
Paul currently ranks No. 10 overall in assists. Paul, currently ranked No. 15, could also jump into the Top 10 for steals as well. Current players who rank in the Top 10 in both categories include John Stockton, Jason Kidd and Gary Payton. When he eventually joins this club, he will be among elite company.
During his career, the lowest total steals that Paul has recorded is 96. Even if he matches this figure, he will pass Kobe Bryant, Derek Harper and Allen Iverson.
Paul, however, has had more than 173 steals four different times in his career. If he does this again, he will pass Mookie Blaylock and Karl Malone.
On the other side of the ball, meanwhile, Paul will almost inevitably pass Andre Miller for assists. If he totals more than 810, which he has done three times, he can pass Payton and Isiah Thomas.
For him to record 810 assists, he would need 9.9 assists per night over a full season or 11.6 in 60 games.
Stephen Curry could move to No. 3 in three-pointers
Even though he is entering his ninth professional season, Curry could jump from No. 10 in three-point field goals to No. 3 overall.
Curry shouldn’t have a hard time passing Joe Johnson (21 more three-pointers) and Jason Kidd (71) next year. In each of his last five seasons, Curry has connected on at least 261 three-pointers.
While he is currently behind Vince Carter and Jamal Crawford and Kyle Korver, they are all active in the league. But if he makes 133 more than they do, which is entirely possible as Curry has led the league in three’s five years in a row, he will pass each of them.
He is 226 three-pointers behind Paul Pierce, who finished at No. 4 overall, and 325 three’s behind Jason Terry for No. 3 overall. Fans can expect Curry to pass Pierce though Terry may prove more difficult considering he is still in the NBA.
Then again, Curry had 402 three’s during the 2016-16 season while Terry had 73 in 74 games last season.
Dwight Howard May Pass Charles Barkley in Boards
Howard will play for his fifth team in seven seasons next year after he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets from his hometown Atlanta Hawks during the offseason.
With his new squad, Howard has a chance to reinvent himself and also has an opportunity to climb up the NBA all-time rebounding leaderboards. Howard currently ranks No. 22 overall, though some of the players that he is directly behind are noteworthy.
He needs 116 rebounds to pass Charles Oakley, 268 to pass Paul Silas and 270 to pass Dikembe Mutombo. His career-low is 431, and that’s because he only played half the season in 2014-15. If he can reach 457 rebounds, he will pass Charles Barkley.
The reason this is worth mentioning is that Barkley has ripped Howard in the past, even asking the big man why he thinks people don’t like him. Barkley, who has said that Howard is not a great player, may have some explaining to do if the Charlotte center passes him in boards next season.