NBA.com staff report
The 2019-20 season is set to begin and there's no shortage of notable stats and numbers to know before basketball begins. Here are six you should keep in mind once the regular season tips off...
* * *
LeBron could soon pass Kobe
The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James begins his 17th season needing 1,101 points to pass Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Based on his career average, James (32,543 points) would need 41 games to pass Bryant (33,643) and settle in behind No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and No. 2 Karl Malone (36,928).
The potential scoring milestone is just the start for James in 2019-20. He is poised to climb closer to the top in several major categories. Based on his career averages, here are some of his projected all-time regular-season rankings by the end of this season.
On another scoring note, James is on the verge of becoming the third player to record at least 1,000 games of 20 or more points.
Westbrook on cusp of history
With his next triple-double, Westbrook will pass Magic Johnson for sole possession of second place in NBA history. Westbrook needs 44 triple-doubles to pass Oscar Robertson for the most ever. Westbrook’s career high for triple-doubles in a season is 42, an NBA record set in 2016-17.
Westbrook has also led the NBA in assists in each of the last two seasons (after James Harden did so in 2016-17). If Westbrook leads the NBA in assists in 2019-20, he would become the sixth player to win three consecutive assist titles.
Third straight scoring crown for Harden?
Last season, Harden finished with the eighth-highest single-season scoring average in NBA history (36.1 ppg), giving him his second straight scoring title. If Harden leads the NBA in scoring in 2019-20, he would become the eighth player to win three consecutive scoring titles.
Popovich (and the Spurs) roll along
Gregg Popovich will coach the San Antonio Spurs for the 24th straight season, breaking a tie with Jerry Sloan for the longest tenure in NBA history. Sloan led the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons in a row. Since Popovich took over as Spurs coach on Dec. 10, 1996, the number of coaches used by other NBA teams is 270. (That total includes head coaches who were hired in the 2019 offseason). Every team has had at least three coaches and as many as 14 in the Popovich era.
Popovich has led the Spurs to the playoffs in all 22 of his full seasons on the job. With 22 straight postseason appearances, San Antonio is tied with the Syracuse Nationals/ Philadelphia 76ers for the longest streak in NBA history. The Spurs last missed the playoffs in 1996- 97, the season before the arrival of Tim Duncan, who is now back with them as an assistant coach.
Carter's potential record-setting season
When he takes the court in 2019-20, the Atlanta Hawks’ Vince Carter will set the NBA record for seasons played at 22. Carter, 42, is the last active player drafted in the 1990s (No. 5 pick in 1998) and potentially the first player to play in four decades (if he appears in a game in 2020). He is also close to joining the rare 1,500-game club.
Only three players have appeared in an NBA game at 43 or older. Carter turns 43 on Jan. 26.
Steph seeking more 3-point records
As the 2019-20 season begins, the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry is chasing two Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers on the career list for 3-pointers made.
Stephen Curry needs to make 78 3-pointers to pass Reggie Miller for second place in NBA history. Based on last season’s average, the Warriors’ star would need 16 games to pass Miller. At his current pace, Curry would pass Ray Allen for the top spot during the 2020-21 season.
Curry ranks second in the NBA and in his own family in 3-point field percentage among active players. Seth Curry, now back with the Dallas Mavericks after facing Stephen in the 2019 Western Conference finals as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, has a slight edge over the two-time Kia NBA MVP for the No. 1 position (minimum 250 3-pointers made).
Seth and Steph rank third and fifth, respectively, in all-time 3-point field goal percentage. The list is topped by Steph’s coach, Steve Kerr.