LeBron James will suit up for his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers beginning in just a few weeks. It will mark the 16th season in his career, during which he has already etched his name all over the record books.
But where does James stand in terms of NBA milestones and all-time lists? How far can he move up on those lists this year with the Lakers? We had a look at how he ranks in traditional statistical categories, in the playoffs, in the Finals, in All-Star games and in quirky corners all over the record books. Here’s what we found:
LeBron Can Pass Kobe Bryant on the All-Time Scoring List
James currently has 32,543 points scored to his credit, which leaves him No. 4 on the NBA’s all-time list. He needs 1,101 points to pass Lakers great Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the list and if he averages 24 points this season, he’ll beat Bryant around Game 46, which will be played in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia.
Whenever that happens, James will remain well behind No. 2 Karl Malone, who has 36,928 points to his credit. James could pass Malone, but not until the 2021-22 season at the earliest.
He could potentially pass all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 points the same year, but it would be a longshot.
James will be 35 for the bulk of this season, which puts an unusual record in the realm of possibility for him. Before last year’s injury-plagued season, James averaged 27.5 points for the Cavaliers in 2017-18. If he got close to that again, he’d set a record for season scoring average after age 35. Alex English, who averaged 26.5 points for Denver in 1988-89 at age 35, has the record now.
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LeBron Will be Moving Up on the All-Time Assist (and Turnover) List
John Stockton’s career assist record of 15,806 is safe for a long, long time and James would need to play at his current level until he is 45 or 46 years old to put that mark in jeopardy. But James is No. 10 on the career assist board now, at 8,662, and should move up to No. 8 by the end of the season, passing Gary Payton (8,966) and Isiah Thomas (9,061).
No. 7 on the list is Chris Paul, who has a comfortable 519 assist lead over James and is under contract for three more years.
Elsewhere, James figures to take over the No. 2 spot on the all-time turnover list early in the season. He is No. 4 now, at 4,163, just behind Stockton (4,244) and Moses Malone (4,264) and should pass both before the All-Star break.
He would need to average more than 5.0 turnovers per game in 72 games this season to catch turnover king Karl Malone (4,524).
LeBron Will Pass the $300 Million Mark on March 1
Throughout 16 seasons, James has earned $272,674,622. That leaves him $27,325,378 short of $300 million earned from NBA contracts alone.
James is slated to make $37,436,858 this season, which amounts to $456,547.05 per game (which is not exactly how NBA players get paid, but the math works out the same). That means that when the Lakers play their 60th game this season—March 1 in New Orleans—James should buy his teammates a round of beignets. That’s when he will move past $300 million in career NBA income.
LeBron is Set to Add to His Playoff Legacy
It’s possible that James could break former Lakers guard Derek Fisher’s record for all-time playoff appearances, 259, without reaching the Finals, but James has 239 playoff games to his credit and L.A. would have to play three seven-game series next May to do it. If James is to pass Fisher this spring, the Lakers will need to reach the Finals.
James is currently fourth on the all-time list and is almost certain to move past Robert Horry (244 games) this season. Second on the list is Tim Duncan (251).
James is now seventh in career Finals games, at 49. If the Lakers reach the Finals, he will move into fifth and could tie Jerry West (55 games) for fourth. Bill Russell, at 70, is the career leader. West is the Finals’ all-time leading scorer (1,679 points) and though James is second (1,383), he would not catch West this season unless he averaged 43.3 points in a seven-game Finals.
If James helps the Lakers to a championship this season, he will join an elite group that includes only Robert Horry and John Salley: Players who have won titles with three different franchises.
He could, too, break the tie that Kawhi Leonard set last year when he won a Finals MVP for Toronto. Leonard had already won a Finals MVP for San Antonio and joined James as the only players to have done so for two different teams.
Should the Lakers reach the Finals and James be named MVP, he will re-set the record for most Finals MVPs won for different franchises.
VORP, Win Shares and PER: LeBron and Advanced Stats
Maybe one day advanced stats will entirely replace the meaningless humdrum of points, rebounds and assists that have limited hoops analysis for decades. That day has not come, but if it does, James will be well-remembered.
He is already the all-time leader in VORP, or Value Over Replacement Player, at 129.79, well ahead of No. 2 on the list, Michael Jordan (104.43). That makes sense because VORP measures a player’s value compared with an average minimum-contract replacement and because the league was smaller 30 years ago, the average replacement player was better in Jordan’s day.
The player with the second-highest career VORP is Chris Paul, at 78.31.
Jordan does have an advantage over James in PER, or Player Efficiency Rating, according to Basketball-Reference.com. That number is far from perfect, but Jordan’s all-time PER is 27.91, just ahead of James’ PER, which is 27.59. At age 34, it’s unlikely that James will raise his PER, so Jordan is probably safe.
Both James and Jordan should beware, though, because James’ teammate, Anthony Davis, lurks in third place. His PER is 27.42 and at age 26, he could push that higher this year.
James is now fourth all-time in win shares, a measure of the number of wins to which a player contributes. He has 226.60 and should move past Karl Malone (234.63) for third place. He will remain behind Wilt Chamberlain (247.26) and Abdul-Jabbar (273.41).
LeBron Moving Closer to Kobe and Kareem on All-Star Board
James is a 15-time All-Star, which is tied for third with three other players. An All-Star appearance this season is almost assured, which will put him alone in third place with 16. He will then be two behind Bryant (18) and three behind Abdul-Jabbar (19).
James is the career leader in points scored in All-Star games, at 362. That is 72 points ahead of No. 2 on the list, Bryant. The second-most All-Star points scored among active players is Kevin Durant’s 250 and with Durant’s injury, James figures to pad his record this February.
James can also catch Shaquille O’Neal for a bit of little-known history. O’Neal’s 15 All-Star selections came under seven different coaches, a record for most coaches played for during an All-Star season. If James is picked this year, Frank Vogel will be the seventh coach he’s played for in an All-Star season, joining Mike Brown, Paul Silas, Erik Spoelstra, David Blatt, Ty Lue and Luke Walton.