Wilt Chamberlain retired after the 1972-73 season as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant have since passed Chamberlain, and two players are poised to knock Chamberlain further down the list this season.
Those players, of course, are LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki, who continue to defy Father Time as they climb various statistical leaderboards. Here’s a preview of some of the major milestones within reach for James, Nowitzki and several other players (and one coach) during the 2018-19 season.
• Points: James enters his 16th season in seventh place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, with 31,038 points and is likely to pass Nowitzki (No. 6), Chamberlain (No. 5) and Jordan (No. 4) this season. James begins the season 1,254 points behind Jordan, which is about 46 games’ worth of points for LeBron based on his career average (27.2 ppg).
• Assists: James needs 317 assists to pass Andre Miller for 10th place, which is about 45 games’ worth of assists for LeBron based on his career average (7.2 apg).
• Field Goals Made: James needs 51 made field goals to pass Shaquille O’Neal for sixth place and 440 buckets (roughly 45 games’ worth on average) to pass Bryant for fifth place.
• Seasons: Nowitzki will set an NBA record for most seasons played with one team (21), breaking a tie with Bryant, who spent 20 seasons with the Lakers. Nowitzki will tie the NBA record for most seasons played overall (21), joining Robert Parish, Kevin Willis and Kevin Garnett. (Vince Carter will also match the NBA record this season.)
• Points: Nowitzki, No. 6 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, needs 233 points to pass Chamberlain, who is in fifth place. (Note: James is only 150 points behind Nowitzki.)
• Wins: Nowitzki has been a part of 899 regular-season wins. With his next victory, he will become the sixth player in NBA history with at least 900 wins, joining Abdul-Jabbar (1,074), Parish (1,014), Tim Duncan (1,001), John Stockton (953) and Karl Malone (952).
• Games: Nowitzki is 29 games from 1,500 for his career, a mark reached by only three players: Parish (1,611 games), Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) and Stockton (1,504).
• Seasons: Carter will tie the NBA record for most seasons played (21), joining Parish, Willis and Garnett. (Nowitzki will also match the NBA record this season.)
• Points: Carter, No. 22 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, needs 132 points to reach 25,000.
• 3-pointers: Curry, No. 7 on the NBA’s all-time list for 3-pointers made, could crack the top three this season, depending on his performance and that of the active players ahead of him. Curry needs 15 three-pointers to pass Paul Pierce for sixth place. Curry trails No. 5 Jamal Crawford by 24 3-pointers.
• Triple-Doubles: Westbrook needs four triple-doubles to pass Jason Kidd for third place on the NBA’s all-time list. Westbrook needs 35 triple-doubles to pass Magic Johnson for second place. Current top four in triple-doubles: Oscar Robertson (181), Johnson (138), Kidd (107) and Westbrook (104).
• Assists: Paul, No. 9 on the NBA’s all-time assists list, has a chance to move up to seventh this season. He needs 259 assists (about 27 games’ worth based on his career average) to pass Gary Payton for eighth place and 354 assists (about 37 games’ worth) to pass Isiah Thomas for seventh.
• Steals: Paul, No. 12 on the NBA’s all-time steals list, is poised to crack the top 10 this season. He needs 68 steals to pass Mookie Blaylock for 11th place and 78 steals to pass Karl Malone for 10th.
• Points: Anthony, No. 19 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, needs 197 points to pass Alex English for 18th place. Depending on his production in Houston, Anthony could pass Robertson (No. 12) and Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 11) this season. Kevin Garnett (No. 17), Pierce (No. 15) and Duncan (No. 13) are among the players between Anthony and The Big O.
• Rebounds: Howard, No. 14 on the NBA’s all-time rebounding list, needs 648 rebounds to pass Olajuwon for 13th place and 669 to pass Wes Unseld for 12th place -- roughly 50 games’ worth of rebounds for Howard based on his career average (12.7 rpg).
• Blocks: Howard, No. 17 on the NBA’s all-time blocks list, could climb as high as 13th this season. The next four players ahead of him are George Johnson (No. 16), Manute Bol (No. 15), Shawn Bradley (No. 14) and Ben Wallace (No. 13).
• Wins: Popovich is three victories shy of becoming the fifth coach in NBA history with 1,200 wins. Popovich (No. 5) needs 14 wins to pass Pat Riley (No. 4) and 25 wins to pass Jerry Sloan (No. 3) on the career wins list.
• Playoff Streak: Under Popovich, the Spurs have reached the playoffs in 21 consecutive seasons (1997-98 to 2017-18), tied with Portland (1982-83 to 2002-03) for the second-longest streak in NBA history. If the Spurs make the playoffs this season, they will tie the NBA record for consecutive playoff appearances. The Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers hold the record of 22 straight playoff trips (1949-50 to 1970-71).