NBA

LeBron James Becomes Youngest Player in NBA History to Score 26K Points

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James walks on to the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 99-95. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Darren Abate/Associated Press
Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2016

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 26,000 points Friday night in a 114-106 win over the Detroit Pistons.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, James beat Kobe Bryant to the milestone by more than a year:

James currently ranks 17th on the NBA's all-time scoring list, but he won't occupy that position much longer. He is in line to eclipse Kevin Garnett (26,071 points) for 16th place in a matter of games.

However, passing Garnett is merely the means to a far more historically significant end.

If we use last season as a guide, James is in line to fly up the league's all-time scoring list now that he's cracked 26,000 points—with future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Paul Pierce in his sights.

During the 2014-15 season, James scored 1,743 points in just 69 games—good for a nightly average of 25.3. The four-time MVP's per-game total this season has ticked down slightly to 24.9 (entering Friday), but the fact that he's already close to 1,100 total points this year following a 20-point performance Friday night suggests he could come close to totaling 2,000 points in a season for the 10th time in his career.

Should 27,000 points come into play as the Cavaliers jockey for playoff position, James could jump to as high as No. 10 on the all-time scoring list by the time the regular season comes to a close. That would mean eclipsing Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, Dominique Wilkins and John Havlicek along the way.

NBA's 26,000-Point Club (Through Friday Night)
RankPlayerPoints
1Kareem Abdul-Jabbar38,387
2Karl Malone36,928
3Kobe Bryant*33,094
4Michael Jordan32,292
5Wilt Chamberlain31,419
6Dirk Nowitzki*28,876
7Shaquille O'Neal28,596
8Moses Malone27,409
9Elvin Hayes27,313
10Hakeem Olajuwon26,946
11Oscar Robertson26,710
12Dominique Wilkins26,668
13John Havlicek26,395
14Tim Duncan*26,302
15Paul Pierce*26,144
16Kevin Garnett*26,071
17LeBron James*26,005
Source: Basketball-Reference.com, * denotes active player

But regardless of where he finishes this season, James has always played it cool when it comes to individual accomplishments.

"For me, winning basketball games and then reaching milestones individually will be a pretty cool thing, but obviously, it will be a team aspect of it that comes first," James said after crossing the 25,000-point mark against the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 2, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. "But any time along that line that you're able to reach a milestone, I think it's very humbling and it's a cool thing."

With Friday's win in hand, the Cavaliers have now ripped off three straight victories following a 96-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Tyronn Lue's first game as head coach.

However, showdowns with the Pistons, Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves didn't truly test Cleveland's mettle following David Blatt's dismissal.

Fear not, though. A meeting with the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena should represent a solid measuring stick for the ever-evolving Cavaliers as they seek to validate their championship credentials.

 

All stats via Basketball-Reference.com.

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