2019-20 Kia Season Preview

6 milestones to watch for in 2019-20 season

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Gregg Popovich are among those nearing history

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 Tuesday night

> NBA.com/Stats: Even more milestones to watch for

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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.

LeBron James’ rankings in NBA history
Category Start of season End of season (projected)
Points 4th 3rd
Assists 10th 8th
FG Made 5th 4th
3P Made 19th Top 16
FT Made 8th 5th
Steals 16th 13th
Minutes 15th 7th

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.

Most 20-point games in NBA history
Player Games
Karl Malone 1,134
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1,122
LeBron James 993
Kobe Bryant 941
Michael Jordan 926

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.

Most triple-doubles in NBA history
Player Career triple-doubles
Oscar Robertson 181
Magic Johnson 138
Russell Westbrook 138
Jason Kidd 107
LeBron James 81

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.

Most consecutive NBA scoring titles
Player Streak Seasons
Michael Jordan 7 1986-87 to 1992-93
Wilt Chamberlain 7 1959-60 to 1965-66
Kevin Durant 3 2009-10 to 2011-12
Michael Jordan 3 1995-96 to 1997-98
George Gervin 3 1977-78 to 1979-80
Bob McAdoo 3 1973-74 to 1975-76
Neil Johnston 3 1952-53 to 1954-55
George Mikan 3 1948-49 to 1950-51

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.

Longest NBA coaching tenures with one team
Coach Team Season First season Last season
Gregg Popovich San Antonio Spurs 23 1996-97
Jerry Sloan Utah Jazz 23 1988-89 2010-11
Red Auerbach Boston Celtics 16 1950-51 1965-66
Alvin Attles S.F./Golden State Warriors 14 1969-70 1982-83
John MacLeod Phoenix Suns 14 1973-74 1986-87

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.

Most consecutive playoff appearances
Team Seasons First Last
Philadelphia 76ers 22 1949-50 1970-71
San Antonio Spurs 22 1997-98 2018-19
Portland Trail Blazers 21 1982-83 2002-03
Utah Jazz 20 1983-84 2002-03
Boston Celtics 19 1950-51 1968-69

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.

Most NBA seasons played
Vince Carter* 21
Kevin Garnett 21
Dirk Nowitzki 21
Robert Parish 21
Kevin Willis 21
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 20
Kobe Bryant 20

* = Doesn’t include 2019-20 season

Most NBA games played
Robert Parish 1,611
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1,560
Dirk Nowitzki 1,522
John Stockton 1,504
Vince Carter 1,481

Only three players have appeared in an NBA game at 43 or older. Carter turns 43 on Jan. 26.

Oldest players in an NBA game
Nat Hickey 45-363 Jan. 28, 1948
Kevin Willis 44-224 April 18, 2007
Robert Parish 43-232 April 19, 1997
Dikembe Mutombo 42-289 April 10, 2009
Vince Carter 42-74 April 10, 2019
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 42-7 April 23, 1989

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.

Most 3-pointers made in NBA history
Ray Allen 2,973
Reggie Miller 2,560
Stephen Curry 2,483
Kyle Korver 2,351
Jason Terry 2,282

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.

Highest 3-point FG%, active players
Seth Curry 301 686 43.9
Stephen Curry 2,483 5,690 43.6
Kyle Korver 2,351 5,478 42.9
Joe Harris 450 1,053 42.7
Klay Thompson 1,798 4,290 41.9