NBA all-time scoring list: When will LeBron James catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

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LeBron James is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the top spot on the NBA’s all-time leading scoring list for regular season and playoffs combined, but that is different than being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The NBA’s all-time record books are regular season statistics only, so James is still a season away from passing Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time points leader.

However, when you take playoff scoring into account, James (44,074 total points) is only 75 points away from Abdul-Jabbar (44,149 total points) from tallying the most combined points in NBA history.

How many games will it take James to pass Abdul-Jabbar for the most combined points in NBA history? And how many games will it take James to pass Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer (regular season only)?

We have tables for both milestones below, along with a quick projection on when James may break each record.

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NBA’s combined all-time scoring list (regular season and playoffs)

Rank Player Points
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 44,149
2. LeBron James 44,074
3. Karl Malone 41,689
4. Kobe Bryant 39,283
5. Michael Jordan 38,279
6. Dirk Nowitzki 35,223
7. Wilt Chamberlain 35,026
8. Shaquille O’Neal 33,846
9. Tim Duncan 31,668
10. Hakeem Olajuwon 30,701

James is currently 75 points away from passing Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s combined all-time leading scorer. Averaging a jaw-dropping 29.1 points per game in his 19th season, LeBron should only need three more games to surpass Kareem.

That means LeBron could pass Kareem as the NBA’s combined all-time leading scorer on Saturday, Feb. 12 when the Lakers take on Stephen Curry and the Warriors.

NBA’s all-time scoring list (regular season only)

Rank Player Points
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387
2. Karl Malone 36,928
3. LeBron James 36,443
4. Kobe Bryant 33,643
5. Micahel Jordan 32,292
6. Dirk Nowitzki 31,560
7. Wilt Chamberlain 31,419
8. Shaquille O’Neal 28,596
9. Carmelo Anthony 28,042
10. Moses Malone 27,409

James is only 485 points away from passing Malone for second on the NBA’s all-time leading scorers list. At his current pace this season, 29.1 points per game, James will only need approximately 17 more games to tally 485 points, meaning he should catch Malone this season.

As for Abdul-Jabbar and the top spot, he still has a ways to go. LeBron is still 1,944 points away from passing Kareem, meaning he’ll need at least another season to make that leap.

While James has defied Father Time to this point in his career, any sign of slowing down could alter the course of when he becomes the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Right now, he is on pace to score roughly 800 more points this season, which would put him just over 1,100 away from passing Abdul-Jabbar.

Even during a 2020-21 season where he only played 45 games, James still tallied 1,126 points. That was by far the fewest amount of total points he has scored in a season in his career, and based on averages, that number would almost be enough to pass Abdul-Jabbar next season.

All of this to say, it’s a safe bet that James becomes the NBA’s all-time leading scorer at some point during the 2022-23 NBA season.

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