Payton, O'Neal and Mourning are eyeing the top spots on the NBA all-time stats lists.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

By Dave McMenamin

Another season, another chance for a current NBA player to catch an NBA legend on the all-time leaderboards. The Miami Heat's veteran triumvirate of Shaq, GP and Zo have many records within their sights -- not surprising considering the trio account for 43 seasons between them. Also, there are 11 players primed to enter the 15,000 points club and 14 more awaiting entrance in the 10K club. And while P.J. Brown will play his 1,000th game, Scot Pollard might -- might -- earn his 100th start. Find out what stats (and players) could make history this year...

Career Points

Four rings, three Finals MVPs and one regular-season MVP has cemented Shaquille O’Neal's place among the NBA's elite, but it never hurts to pad the stats. O'Neal has 24,764 career points putting him at 15th all-time. The Daddy needs 62 points to tie Patrick Ewing for 14th place. If Shaq scores 1,200 points on the season (he scored 1,181 last season in 60 games) he will also leapfrog Jerry West, Reggie Miller and Alex English on his way to 11th all-time. His 20 points per game average last year was a career low, but Shaq was coming off of an early-season thigh injury. A healthy O'Neal should have no problem scoring a heap of points.

Shaq's teammate, Gary Payton, known for his fiesty defense, has been a scorer, too, as his 21,455 career points proves. GP's points are good for 23rd all-time but his 7.7 points per game last season was his lowest since his rookie season in 1990-91. Still, he played nearly 30 minutes a game. Meaning, Hal Greer's (21,585) and Larry Bird's (21,791) point totals are well within The Glove's reach for this season.

25,000 Points

Shaq needs just 236 points to become the 14th player in NBA history to reach the 25,000 point plateau. If O'Neal averages 20 points this season, he could enter the rarified air of the 25,000 Club against Air Jordan's Bobcats in Charlotte on Nov. 25.

20,000 Points

The two players heading for 20,000 points this season could be characterized as The Old Man and the Flea.

"The Old Man" is Clifford Robinson. Entering his 18th NBA season, Robinson will turn 40 years old on Dec. 16. "Uncle Cliffy" has 19,388 career points, needing 612 points to become the 30th player in NBA history to reach the 20,000-point mark. Known best for Michael Jordan drilling a three in his grille in the 1992 NBA Finals when Robinson was on the Trail Blazers, the 6-foot-10 forward has played for four teams since Portland and remained a steady contributor as he averaged 6.9 points for New Jersey last season.

"The Flea," of course, is Allen Iverson. The diminuative guard, barely six-feet tall, would become the shortest member of the 20,000 point club, giving the previously smallest players -- 6-foot-2 Jerry West and Greer -- someone they "tower" over.

Iverson is 885 points away from 20,000, and with his career 28.0 ppg, (3rd all-time behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain), expect him to reach it in about 32 more games, perhaps when the Sixers play in Utah on Jan. 3.

15,000 Points
15,000 Club Candidates Break Down
Youngest: Tracy McGrady: May 24, 1979
Oldest: Sam Cassell: Nov. 18, 1969
Most Games: Cassell - 880
Fewest Games: Paul Pierce - 605
Highest Single-Game High: McGrady - 62 points
Lowest Single-Game High: Cassell - 40 points
Highest Career Average: Pierce - 23.5 ppg
Lowest Career Average: Cassell - 16.3 ppg
Highest Draft Pick: Tim Duncan, 1st Rd., No. 1, 1997
Lowest Draft Pick: Cassell, 1st Rd., No. 23, 1993

Two members of the Spurs could possibly each score their 15,000th point in the same week this season -- and maybe even on the same night. Michael Finley is only 246 points away from 15,000 and Tim Duncan only needs 311 points for 15 grand. Finley has a career scoring average of 18.2 points. If he can maintain that clip he would get to 15,000 in about 13.6 games. Duncan's career average is higher, 22.1 points per game, and if he can average that this season he would be at 15,000 in about 14.1 games.

So, Spurs fans might want to look up cheap flights to Seattle on Nov. 26 to see the Spurs play their 14th game of the season.

In addition to Finley and Duncan, the heralded 1996 Draft class can add three more players to the 15,000-point club. No. 4 overall pick Stephon Marbury (334 points shy), No. 6 pick Antoine Walker (381 points short) and No. 3 pick Shareef Abdur-Rahim (775 points) can join No. 1 pick Allen Iverson, No. 5 pick Ray Allen and No. 13 pick Kobe Bryant as 1996 draftees at the 15,000-point precipice.

Also, six other players have their sights set on 15,000 in 2006-07:
Juwan Howard needs 483 points
Sam Cassell, 695 points
Jerry Stackhouse, 715 points
Paul Pierce, 798 points
Tracy McGrady, 1,430 points
Dirk Nowitzki, 1,643 points

10,000 Points
10,000 Club Candidates Break Down
Youngest: Rashard Lewis: Aug. 8, 1979
Oldest: P.J. Brown: Oct. 14, 1969
Most Games: Brown - 999
Fewest Games: Steve Francis - 522
Highest Single-Game High: Jermaine O'Neal - 55 points
Lowest Single-Game High: Brown - 30 points
Highest Career Average: Francis - 19.0 ppg
Lowest Career Average: Brown - 9.4 ppg
Highest Draft Pick: Joe Smith, 1st Rd., No. 1, 1995
Lowest Draft Pick: Cuttino Mobley, 2nd Rd., No. 41, 1998

In the movie The Matrix, Keanu Reeves is "The One." In the NBA, Shawn Marion a.k.a. "The Matrix" needs just 12 points to be "The One (Who Has 10K Points)".

Selected ninth overall in the 1999 Draft, Marion is slated to become just the second player in his Draft class, (after No. 1 pick Elton Brand), to amass 10,000 points. Marion has been an athletic big that fills the lane as well as he fills the stat sheet since and over the last two seasons, thanks to his stellar numbers, he has become a legitimate MVP candidate playing alongside two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash.

Three other draftees from Marion's class are close behind. No. 2 pick Steve Francis of the Knicks (106 points away), No. 7 pick Rip Hamilton of the Pistons (670 points short) and No. 10 pick Jason Terry of the Mavericks (1,102 points to go) have a legitimate chance of achieving the milestone with The Matrix.

Here are other players on the cusp:
Donyell Marshall needs 42 points
Mike Bibby, 69 points
Cuttino Mobley, 248 points
Steve Nash, 505 points
Antonio McDyess, 542 points
P.J. Brown, 605 points
Joe Smith, 699 points
Rashard Lewis, 1,081 points
Chauncey Billups, 1,303 points
Jermaine O’Neal, 1,513 points


3-Pointers

Three of the best 3-point shooters around.
Widner/Dunn/Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

The Godfather of the 3-point arc has retired and a new don is in town. In Reggie Miller's first season of out of the league last year, Ray Allen not only carried the torch for outside shooters, but caught fire in the process. Allen set the NBA single-season record with 269 3-pointers made. Now Allen needs 245 threes to become just the second player in NBA history with 2,000 career trifectas -- second to only Miller, who sits in first with 2,560.

A couple of all-around stars from the mid-90s have made the transition to role players as veteran deep threats on Western Conference playoff teams. San Antonio's Nick Van Exel, at 1,528 threes, needs 15 treys to pass Tim Hardaway for fifth place, and 32 to pass Glen Rice for fourth. Meanwhile, Memphis' Eddie Jones needs 66 3-pointers to become the seventh player in NBA history with 1,500 trifectas.

Also, four players are approaching quadruple-digit (1,000) career triples: Paul Pierce needs 11 3-pointers, Voshon Lenard needs 67 (he had 25 in 26 games played last season in Denver and Portland), Steve Nash needs 83 triples while Cuttino Mobley needs 95 treys. Mobley has shown he is capable. Seven times in his career he has hit at least 90 treys, and he hit 83 threes last season.

Free Throws

One guy usually misses a lot of freebies and the other not so much. One guy usually gets to the line by defenders hacking him, the other often gets there by attacking defenders. One guy is huge, the other is tiny. No matter their results, methods or shapes, Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson are accustomed to standing 15 feet from the rim lining up for a ton of foul shots.

Shaq, at 21st in free throws made all-time with 5,147, needs 210 to pass Elvin Hayes for 20th. Of course, a career 53 percent foul shooter, those 210 makes probably won't come without his fair share of rim benders.

Iverson is 27th in charity stripe makes and needs 91 more to pass Magic Johnson for 26th all time at 4,690. If A.I. has as many trips to the line as he did last season (675 makes) he could catapult all the way to 16th all-time by the end of the year.

Assists

He is a prototypical point guard. One of only a couple guys in the league along with Ben Wallace and maybe Ron Artest that can dominate a game without taking a shot. He has eyes in the back of his head, had a perfect score on the SATs and is able to complete a Rubik's Cube while blindfolded and one arm tied behind his back.

OK, maybe the last few were stretching the truth a bit, but sometimes Jason Kidd makes you believe the impossible can happen. Just look at him thread a bounce pass behind an unsuspecting defender on a Richard Jefferson backdoor cut. Or see him throw a half-court lob to Vince Carter that meets VC at the apex of his jump.

J-Kidd has 7,955 career assists and needs 33 more to pass Rod Strickland for seventh place on the all-time assists list with 7,988. With a career 9.2 dimes per, expect Kidd to motor past Strickland on Nov. 10 at home against Miami.

Kidd's East Bay bretheren, Gary Payton will pass (Pass, get it?) Isiah Thomas for fifth on the all-time dimes list when he dishes his 298th assist this season to give him 9,062 for his career.

Rebounds

Shaq might drop his "The Big Aristotle" moniker for "The Big Record Book" before the year is up. O'Neal starts the season with 11,082 career rebounds, putting him at 24th all-time. He needs 175 boards to pass Dolph Schayes for 23rd on the glass cleaners’ tally list. Should Shaq get 550 rebounds (he corralled 541 last season), he will surpass Elgin Baylor and Patrick Ewing.

Shaq might have another player join him in the distinction of grabbing 10,000 rebounds in his career. Kevin Garnett is 433 boards away from 10,000 and, having averaged over 10 rebounds per game each of the last eight seasons, Garnett would appear to be a lock to reach the mark.

While KG goes for 10K, there are three guys that are aiming for half of that (meaning 5,000, for all you non-math majors):
Robert Horry needs 69 rebounds (don't forget, this outside shooter is a sneaky 6-foot-10)
Marcus Camby, 117 rebounds
Jermaine O'Neal, 360 rebounds

Steals

Jordan may have got the best of Payton in the '96 Finals, but GP can steal MJ's spot on the all-time list.
Andew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Michael Jordan was good at taking things from people back in his playing days. He took a title from Magic in '91, Clyde in '92, and Charles in '93. Then he took a hiatus. During the break he must have missed taking things on the basketball court, so he tried stealing bases for a while. But, eventually he came back to the hardwood and decided to take a little more. He took a title from Gary in '96, Karl and John in '97 and Karl and John again in '98. Along the way, he collected six rings and 2,514 steals.

Well, now it's Gary's turn to take something from Michael. Payton has 2,402 career steals, good enough for 3rd all-time, and can pass Jordan for 2nd place with 113 more swipes.

Jason Kidd has a different legend in his sights. Kidd has 1,755 career steals, putting him at 13th place and he can pass the guard, turned GM, turned coach from across the river, Isiah Thomas, for 12th with 87 more thefts.
And from the "He plays defense too" files, Allen Iverson is 22nd all-time in steals with 1,593. He is 16 away from passing Mark Jackson for 21st all-time, and he’ll do it in about 600 fewer games.

And three more trying for their 1,000th theft:

Brevin Knight needs six steals
Ray Allen needs 76 steals
Stephon Marbury needs 80 steals

Blocks

He has hands the size of brief cases and a voice as deep as Freud, but the indeliable image of Dikembe Mutombo will always be the finger wave. The four time NBA Defensive Player of the Year was the premier shot swatter in the league for much of the 90's. You knew this not just from Mutombo celebrating each rejection like Babu telling Jerry he is a "very, very bad man" in Seinfeld, but because of the way people went at him. To hang a dunk on Deke was like bagging a prize exotic animal on a hunting safari.

Mutombo is in the twilight of his career, providing Yao Ming with breather minutes in Houston, but history awaits him. With 3,154 career finger waves, he is No. 3 on the all-time blocked shots list and 36 more would push him past the Captain and give him Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s spot at No. 2.

Mount Mutombo has company with players moving up on the all-time blocks list courtesy of 14 feet worth of men in Miami. Shaq, with 2,377 rejections, needs 166 blocks to pass Tree Rollins for seventh place all-time. Another oldie but a goodie, Alonzo Mourning, is 10th on the all-time swat list with 2,136 and needs 226 to pass Robert Parish for ninth place.

Games

Put me in, coach.
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images

It would only be right if this piece ended with Shaq. At 941 games played, O'Neal is 59 away from 1,000 for his career. If Shaq can stay healthy, albeit a big "if," he will reach the 1,000 game mark on March 5 against the Hawks in Miami.

P.J. Brown won't have to wait quite as long. Brown enters the season with 999 games played and will flip his odometer into quadruple digits on opening night with the Bulls.

Meanwhile, the Pacers' Al Harrington is four games away from 500 played for his career and he is still only 26 years old.

And finally,10-year veteran Scot Pollard is one start away from 100 in his career. This is an open plea to Mike Brown in Cleveland. Give him a start. Just one, please?

Even if he doesn't get the start, that hair has got to be a milestone in and of itself.