Kobe Bryant, the All-Time Leading Scorers, and What Could Be

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Kobe Bryant, the All-Time Leading Scorers, and What Could Be
Harry How/Getty Images

I've only recently gotten into basketball. The first games I watched were the 2010 finals. No, I've never seen Michael Jordan play besides some old  videos on the Internet. And now I'm watching a deteriorating Kobe Bryant play his last few seasons ( I don't think he's going to play until he's 40).

So I may seem ignorant to those who have watched Jordan and Kobe in their primes. However, I'm not here to discuss who is better, or if Kobe is going to match or surpass MJ in rings. I'm just writing this because, while on ESPN, I noticed something.

Player Games
1. K. Abdul-Jabbar 1,560  38,387
2. Karl Malone 1,476
3. Michael Jordan 1,072 32,292
4. Wilt Chamberlain 1,045 31,419
5. Shaquille O'Neal* 1,195 28,504
6. Moses Malone 1,329 27,409
7. Elvin Hayes 1,303 27,313
8. Hakeem Olajuwon 1,238 26,946
9. Kobe Bryant* 1,058 26,720
10. Oscar Robertson 1,040 26,710

* Active Player

Do you notice that? No, no, not the points. The games played is what I'm seeing. All these players in the top 10 have played 1,000 games or more, but only 4 have played past 1,100 games.

Kobe, young for his position on the scoring list, has played 1,058 games, that's the 8th highest amount, and he has the 9th highest point total. By the time he hits the playoffs, Kobe will be near the 1,100 games mark.

Can Kobe become the top scorer?

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He's going to pass Michael Jordan in terms of games played by the end of the season. If he doesn't suffer any major injuries, and retires at 38, he's going to be around Karl Malone's total games played. If he plays until 40, and he'll probably pass Mr. Jabbar in games.

Alright, so enough of those what-ifs. Let's move on to some cold cut facts. Here's some division for you. If you take the total points, and divide them by the total games played, you get the average points scored over a NBA career, or Points Per Game(PPG).

So, let's take that same table, use the magical power of division, and see how Kobe matches up with the other fine gentlemen on this list.

Player Games
1. K. Abdul-Jabbar 1,560  38,387 24.6
2. Karl Malone 1,476
 36,928 25.0
3. Michael Jordan 1,072 32,292 30.1
4. Wilt Chamberlain 1,045 31,419 30.0
5. Shaquille O'Neal* 1,195 28,504 23.8
6. Moses Malone 1,329 27,409 20.6
7. Elvin Hayes 1,303 27,313 20.9
8. Hakeem Olajuwon 1,238 26,946 21.7
9. Kobe Bryant* 1,058 26,720 25.2
10. Oscar Robertson 1,040 26,710 25.6

How close can Shaq come to 30,000 points?

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Pretty nice impressive, Mr. Bryant. Although Shaq, having a PPG of nearly 24 points, is probably the biggest surprise to me. Now, using those stats, and the average games played, we'll go back into some fantasy. With Kobe now 32, is it in the realm of possibility, that Kobe can become the top scorer?

Going back to what-ifs, people usually retire in the 35-40 range. You can obviously tell Kobe won't pass the No. 1 spot in 3 years, when he's 35, so let's see what happens when he's 40, using his averages right now (The rest of the NBA season this season is accounted for, future playoffs are not).

The Lakers have 45 games remaining in the season. After that, Kobe has 7 years of 82 games if he isn't injured. That's 619 games total—way past the games played by Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe has a higher average than him too, so if he has played more games, and maintains the same average, logic says he'll pass him right?

If Bryant kept up at his current pace he would end with an insane 42,319 points. Kobe can become the leading scorer, if his knee holds up, and if he can keep conditioned. But, with age comes injury, and Kobe has a bad finger and a bad knee already. Only time will tell if he can maintain his health.

Ok, it was impossible to resist. If I include Kobe having the chance to be top scorer, of course I'd have to include the guy everyone compares him to. To go off topic just for a moment, notice something about Jordan? He's played only 1,072 games, and why am I saying only? Because, along with Wilt Chamberlain, they are in the top 8 with less then 1,100 games played.

Where will Kobe rank in points when he retires?

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Michael left the league because of (based on Wikipedia, may not be right) his father's death, for 2 seasons. Michael left again after a second 3 peat, at the age of 35. He returned to play at the age of 38, and retired for good in 2003.

Michael has 5 years he could of played, but didn't due to retiring. With those 5 years added in with his 30.1 PPG, could he have become the top scorer?

If we add five seasons at Jordan's peak we get the gigantic number of  44,633.  Michael had a chance to be the top scorer, although I'm sure a lot of people figured that out without the math. Disclaimer: Jordan's potential number, like Kobe's, is not for debate purposes, just an interesting thing to look at. If you are going to debate on Kobe/Michael, please use fact.

So there you have it. Love him or hate him, Kobe's a great player. He's a future hall-of-fame player and the second active player in the top 10 list. He has 5 rings (maybe 6), and 26,720 points to back up his legacy. If he does acquire that sixth ring, he'd be the second person on the all time scoring list to ever have a double 3-peat, along with you know who.

Before anyone says anything, I'm not a Kobe or Lakers fan. I tried to keep this away from bias and closer to facts. This is my second article, and constructive criticism is always appreciated. 

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