This week's question: Kobe Bryant scored his 30,000th career point Wednesday night, making him the sixth player in NBA history to accomplish the feat. Who will be the next NBA player to reach the 30,000-point career scoring mark?
It's difficult to persuade myself to pick anyone other than LeBron James. He reached the 5,000 and 10,000-point mark faster than Kobe, and is nearing in on 20,000 for his career, which he should easily hit this season. The other obvious choice to me was Kevin Durant, and Sports Illustrated agreed, but James has a four-year head start, and I don't see him slowing down enough for Durant to surpass him. I do think an interesting argument is if there is a scenario where Durant reaching the 30,000 milestone at a younger age than James. James has a head start by coming into the league out of high school, where Durant played a year at Texas. But looking at their style of play, it wouldn't be horribly shocking. Durant is a better pure shooter than Lebron, we know that. And as James gets older, even though he is a freak physical specimen, he will probably need to rely more on his jump shot. Both have remained healthy throughout their careers, but a knee or any leg injury would hurt James' explosiveness, which he thrives on, more than Durant's jump shot. Regardless of who is the youngest to get to 30,000, I think we'll see both names among that Pantheon of great scorers.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the two names that immediately come to mind, and for good reason. Durant already has several scoring titles and still has his prime years ahead of him while James is, well, the most dominant basketball player in the world. But Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus notes that Dirk Nowitzki is the next active player that could feasibly hit the 30,000-point mark. He is only 5,866 points away, compared to Durant's 10,527 and LeBron's 19,519. Still, at 34 years old and with the injury bug starting to bite -- not to mention O.J. Mayo's ascendance in his absence -- I can't call Nowitzki a shoe-in. Even playing the fewest minutes per game of his career, James should pass 20,000 career points this season and keep up the scoring pace as it becomes more and more evident that Miami's Big Three is actually LeBron, a past-his-prime Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (...and his faces). Durant will get there eventually, but James' path to 30,000 points is clear barring major injury and he will reach it before any other player.
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