Every Monday we will tell you what you need to know heading into a new week of NBA action.
1. LeBron Watch: 36 points from history
One of the greatest and longest-held records in NBA history is set to be broken this week as LeBron James enters Week 17 needing just 36 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.
LeBron enters the week ranked seventh in the NBA in scoring at an even 30 points per game. Based on that average, he would need two games to break the record, which would be Thursday at home against Milwaukee, where Kareem began his career in 1969 and played six seasons before heading to Los Angeles.
However, LeBron has scored at least 36 points in nine out of the 43 games he’s played so far this season (20.9%). So, there’s a chance he could take down the record at home on Tuesday against Oklahoma City.
LeBron has yet to play the Thunder this season but did have 33 points against OKC last season. His 28.1 ppg career average against the Thunder is his eighth-highest against any opponent.
Lakers’ Week 17 schedule
- Tuesday, Feb. 7 vs. Oklahoma City, 10 p.m. ET, TNT
- Thursday, Feb. 9 vs. Milwaukee, 10 p.m. ET, TNT
- Saturday, Feb. 11 at Golden State, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
At times, this record has seemed insurmountable as Kareem has held it for nearly 39 years. But when this season began the question wasn’t if LeBron would break the record, but rather when it would happen. LeBron’s level of consistent scoring over his first two decades in the league is simply unmatched. He has averaged at least 25 points for 19 consecutive seasons and is posting numbers in Year 20 that no player has come close to matching. Father Time may be undefeated, but LeBron is putting up the best fight against him that we’ve ever witnessed.
For a player that does not like to be referred to as a scorer, LeBron is about to hold some of the biggest scoring records in the NBA.
- Regular Season Points: 38,352
- 36 shy of breaking Kareem’s record of 38,387
- 11,668 more than next active player (Kevin Durant: 26,684)
- Playoff Points: 7,631
- 1,644 more than second place (Michael Jordan: 5,987)
- 3,072 more than next active player (Durant: 4,559)
- All-Star Points: 413
- 123 more than second place (Kobe Bryant: 290)
- 163 more than the next active player (Durant: 250)
- Most Consecutive Games with 10+ Points: 1,139
- 273 more than second place (Jordan: 866)
- 1,031 more than next active player (Joel Embiid: 108)
- Highest Scoring Average, Age 33 or Older: 30.0 ppg at 38
- 1 ppg higher than second place (Dominique Wilkins: 29.9 ppg at 33)
- Highest Scoring Average, Age 38 or Older: 30.0 ppg at 38
- 6 ppg higher than second place (Kareem: 23.4 ppg at 38)
- Highest Scoring Average, 18th Season or Later: 30.0 ppg in 20th season
- 4 ppg higher than second place (Karl Malone: 20.6 ppg in 18th season)
- Highest Scoring Average, 20th Season or Later: 30.0 ppg in 20th season
- 4 ppg higher than second place (Bryant: 17.6 ppg in 20th season)
2. Kyrie Irving to Dallas ignites trade winds ahead of Thursday’s deadline
On Friday, the reports came out that Kyrie Irving had requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline. With no deal reached on a contract extension and the possibility that Irving could leave as a free agent this summer, the Nets granted his request. And did so rather quickly.
By Sunday, the Nets had reportedly reached a deal with the Mavericks to send Irving and Markieff Morris to Dallas in exchange for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie and two future draft picks.
- Dorian Finney-Smith
- Spencer Dinwiddie
- 2029 first-round pick
- 2027 & 2029 second-round picks
- Kyrie Irving
- Markieff Morris
The move pairs Irving with Mavericks star Luka Doncic, giving Dallas a backcourt comprised of two All-Star starters later this month in Salt Lake City. The Mavericks have needed a second playmaker and scorer to complement Doncic after losing Jalen Brunson in free agency last summer.
While Irving brings plenty of game to Dallas – 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in 30 games played so far this season – it is coupled with off-the-court drama that has led to Irving being unable to play in each of the past two seasons. In November, Irving served an eight-game suspension after sharing a link to an anti-Semitic file on social media.
As of Sunday night, the trade had not been officially finalized, which means it does not appear on NBA.com’s Trade Tracker, which will track every official deal made through Thursday’s trade deadline
Will this Mavericks-Nets deal mark the beginning of a trading frenzy this week, or will it end up being the biggest transaction of the season? We won’t know that answer until 3 p.m. ET on Thursday when the clock strikes zero on the deadline.
Get ready for Thursday by checking out five teams to watch at the trade deadline and a full breakdown explaining all aspects of the trade deadline.
3. National TV Spotlight: Four must-see games beyond LeBron Watch
Obviously, every Lakers game from now until LeBron breaks the all-time scoring record is a must-watch.
History like this doesn’t happen often – Kareem has held the record for nearly four decades and there’s no telling how high LeBron is going to take it for future players to chase – so you don’t want to miss this historic moment.
Here are four more nationally televised games to keep an eye on this week:
Monday: Milwaukee at Portland, 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Five of the last seven 50+ point games in the NBA have come from either Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (54 vs. LA Clippers on Feb. 2; 50 vs. New Orleans on Jan. 29; 55 vs. Washington on Jan. 3) or Portland’s Damian Lillard (60 vs. Utah on Jan. 25; 50 vs. Cleveland on Jan. 12).
Wednesday: Dallas at LA Clippers, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
It is being reported that Kyrie Irving will travel to Dallas on Monday for his physical, then join the Mavericks on the road to make his debut with the team on Wednesday at the Clippers. This matchup was already intriguing considering the recent playoff history between LA and Dallas, but Kyrie’s debut ups the ante.
Saturday: Philadelphia at Brooklyn, 6 p.m. ET, NBA TV
The Sixers and Nets enter Week 17 ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia holding a two-game lead over Brooklyn in the standings and a 2-0 lead in the season series. Keep an eye on Kevin Durant’s injury status. On Tuesday, Jan. 24, the Nets released an update on Durant’s progress in recovering from an MCL sprain that has kept him out since Jan. 8. The release said Durant would begin running and basketball activities and that he would be reassessed in two weeks, which would be Tuesday, Feb. 7. If Durant is able to return, this could be a must-watch game to check out the new-look Nets against a strong opponent.
Sunday: Memphis at Boston, 2 p.m. ET, ABC
In an interview that ran on ESPN on Dec. 21, NBA Today host Malika Andrews had the following exchange with Memphis’ Ja Morant:
Andrews: Who do you look at around the league as you’re studying and say, we’re gonna have to run through them?
Andrews: No one in the west?
Morant: Nah, I’m fine in the West
The Grizzlies have gone 13-10 since that interview – 6-2 vs. the East and just 7-8 vs. the West. This week, Morant and the Grizzlies face the Celtics for the second and final time this regular season. The Celtics defeated the Grizzlies 109-106 in Memphis on Nov. 7 behind 39 points from Jayson Tatum, while Morant led the Grizzlies with 30 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
4. League Pass Games to Watch
Monday: Oklahoma City at Golden State, 10 p.m. ET, League Pass
The Warriors will begin another stretch without leading scorer Stephen Curry, as he injured his knee in the third quarter of Golden State’s win over Dallas on Saturday. An MRI revealed ligament damage in his left knee and he is expected to miss multiple weeks. Curry missed nearly a month beginning in mid-December with a shoulder injury; the Warriors went 6-5 during those 11 games with Jordan Poole averaging a team-high 27.9 ppg in Curry’s absence. Overall, the Warriors are 20-18 with Curry in the lineup this season and 7-8 without him.
Wednesday: Minnesota at Utah, 9 p.m. ET, League Pass
No team has been in more games decided by a single point this season than the Utah Jazz, going 5-3 in such games this season. One of those wins came against Minnesota on Jan. 16 behind a career night from Walker Kessler (20 points, 21 rebounds), one of the players Utah acquired in the Rudy Gobert trade this past offseason. Gobert returns to Utah for the final time this regular season; the Wolves won his first return game on Dec. 9 as Gobert finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Friday: Dallas at Sacramento, 10 p.m. ET, League Pass
This is the first of a two-night back-to-back set in Sacramento between the No. 3 Kings and No. 6 Mavericks. The teams enter Week 17 separated by just two games in the standings and face off for the first time this season. Assuming the Kyrie Irving trade is completed as expected, this will be the second and third games of the Kyrie-Luka partnership as the two look to develop on-court chemistry in Dallas.
Saturday: Chicago at Cleveland, 8 p.m. ET, League Pass
The last meeting between the Bulls and Cavaliers on Jan. 2 was historic as Donovan Mitchell finished with 71 points, becoming just the seventh player in NBA history to score at least 70 points in a game. It was the highest-scoring game in the league since Kobe Bryant’s 81 in 2006. The scoring outburst led Cleveland to a 145-134 overtime win.
5. NBA Trivia: Trade Deadline Edition
Deadline-related transaction records in the NBA have been officially tracked back to 1987. Over the past 35 years, which deadline saw the most transactions, involving the most teams and saw the most players moved?
The most active trade deadline day came on March 25, 2021. That day saw 16 transactions involving 23 teams and 48 players moved, marking the highest marks in all three categories.
The chart above illustrates the history of the trade deadline and tracks the number of trades, teams involved and players moved over the past 35 years. The dashed lines for each category represent the trendline for that category. All three trendlines have steadily risen, but none more than the players involved.
Will Thursday’s trade deadline see these trends continue? The countdown is on.