Can Paul Pierce Become Boston Celtics' All-Time Leading Scorer?

Tarik MowattContributor IIIJuly 18, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics reacts against the New York Knicks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

This past season, Paul Pierce passed 20,000 career points. He's the third Celtic ever to do so while being a Celtic his entire career. Currently, he's sitting on 21,410, only 300 away from passing Larry Bird. While this should not start any talk about Paul Pierce being better than Bird, it should start at least some chatter among Celtic fans.

Can Paul Pierce pass John Havlicek as the No. 1 scorer for the Celtics?

John Havlicek, like Paul Pierce, was a small forward. He had one of the best all-around games, great endurance, and although he could score in bunches and was clutch, that didn't divert from his willingness to share the ball. He is second in assists for a small forward, only behind Scottie Pippen. John averaged 20.2 points per game, which is third in Celtics history, behind Larry Bird and Paul Pierce.

(Warning, the following contains use of math.)

Paul Pierce is under contract with the Celtics until he's 36. While he's obviously going to decline, he may have enough in the tank to overtake John Havlicek before retirement. So, how much is Paul Pierce going to need to become the Celtics all-time scorer? Let's do the math.

Paul Pierce has 21,410 points, and John Havlicek has 26,395 points. That's a margin of 4,985 points, and Paul Pierce scored 1,511 points in this past NBA season. If Paul consistently scored that amount of points, he would need around 3.3 NBA seasons to match or pass John Havlicek.

Pierce has three seasons left with the Celtics, meaning if he wanted to retire immediately after his contract expired and still pass Havlicek, he'd need to score 1,662 points a season—something he hasn't done since 2009. This means that Pierce would need to average 20.2 points a game for three more seasons.

Is it possible? It depends.

While Paul would only need to average two extra points per game for three seasons, next season is still covered by rather large question marks. The lockout would have to be lifted before it affects the regular season, and Paul would need to play a bigger role in offense—probably the hardest thing to do considering how the Celtics play. He would also have to stay healthy going into his twilight years, which is another very hard thing to do.

So, what's the verdict?

Paul Pierce retires as the second all-time leading scorer on the Celtics. Unless Pierce returns after this current contract, it's highly unlikely that he's able to remain healthy and retain his role on offense in the coming years.

Nevertheless, even if he doesn't become the leading scorer, his place in history as a Celtic great is guaranteed.