The Miami Heat are often hailed for their success as a team. However, it has been LeBron James receiving all the glory as of late. The small forward's historic scoring streak has brought attention from all over the league.
When approached in a larger context, James' place as one of the greatest scorers in the NBA is solidified—to the point that he will pass Michael Jordan.
LeBron turned 28 years old last December, and has a good five or so seasons before he begins to wear down. Like all the legendary players in the league, James will ultimately find other methods of becoming effective.
Many are swift to credit James' athleticism as his biggest advantage, and rightly so. However, much like Jordan did as he aged, LeBron will alter his approach to scoring the ball and remain potent. He's shown flashes of his post scoring the past few seasons, and will undoubtedly improve that aspect of his offense through the years.
Presently, the reigning MVP ranks 37th in points scored in league history. James overtook Phoenix's Tom Chambers some time ago, and is a mere 63 points behind Mitch Richmond.
It is somewhat incredible how passively James has climbed the NBA's all-time scoring ladder. His play receives enormous praise, but his transcendence through history is seemingly unnoticed.
With NBA legends like Scottie Pippen, Isiah Thomas, Bernard King and Magic Johnson in the rear-view mirror, LeBron can focus on surpassing the greatest of them all: Michael Jordan.
No. 23 is ranked third in career scoring at 32,292 points. Jordan's total would be higher had he not retired to pursue baseball, however his accomplishment being top-five remains stellar.
Where will LeBron rank in all-time scoring?
LeBron is placed 37th, as aforementioned, and has a total 20,434 points to his resume. While predicting a player's future is difficult, and often vague, it remains the only true method of assessing their credentials.
There is a 11,858 differential between James and Jordan, which will be easy work for the former. If he were to retire at 36 years of age, it would give LeBron another seven seasons (including this year's campaign) to leapfrog Jordan.
Thus far, James has played an average of 76 games per season over the course of his 10-year career. Taking into consideration last season's shortened game total of 66 and removing it from the equation, it boosts to 78 games.
However, for the sake of potential injury, the 76 games per season average will be used.
Simple mathematics dictate that LeBron must average at least 19.5 points per game (over eight seasons) to eclipse Jordan. He may very well play past the age of 36, but it is a better model should LeBron's physical abilities diminish to the point he is no longer potent.
There are a plethora of complications to consider, such as the aforementioned risks of missing time with afflictions or the impending doom of age. However, there is enough flexibility in the used model to paint a clear picture of where LeBron could rank at the end of his career.
Kobe Bryant might reach that milestone before him, but James has an excellent chance of eclipsing the player he most admired too. It would serve as an extremely valuable accolade when comparing the duo, which is often debated.
Only time will tell if the basketball gods grace James enough to surpass the one and only Michael Jordan.
All information sourced from basketball-reference.com