November 17, 2018

LeBron James is youngest, but not fastest NBA player to score 30,000 points

2018/01/20 3:12 pm 3:12 pm3:12 pm0 4 comments

At just 33 years old, LeBron James will become the youngest player to the 30,000 point plateau when he adds the 7 points against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. The milestone came after scoring 18 points in a historic 148-124 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday when he was fully expected to get to 30K.

LeBron’s milestone adds another accolade to a long list of honors that puts him in the discussion as the best basketball player of all time. Can you hear all the haters? With 30,000 points, James joins a very exclusive club that included just six players prior to his accomplishment: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.

At 33 years and 24 days old, James beat out the previous record-holder, Kobe Bryant, by over a year. To be exact, 445 days earlier than Kobe to become the youngest player to ever accomplish this feat. The Laker superstar was 34 years old, while Wilt was well into his 35th year of life when they reached 30,000 points.

Youngest to 30,000 Points
Rank Player Years Old Days
1 LeBron James 33 24
2 Kobe Bryant 34 104
3 Wilt Chamberlain 35 179
4 Karl Malone 36 189
5 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 36 217
6 Dirk Nowitzki 38 275
7 Michael Jordan 38 321

In fourth place, Malone was 36 years and 189 days when he reached 30,000. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took 28 more days than the Jazz superstar to score his 30,000th point (36 years, 217 days), and Michael Jordan, then with the Washington Wizards, was almost 39 years old (38 years, 321 days) when he recorded his 30,000th point.

This was expected as The King was also the youngest NBA player to hit the 20,000 and 25,000 point milestones.

How much is “youngest NBA player to score 30,000 points” actually worth? The short answer is not much. Both LeBron and Kobe benefited from entering the NBA right out of high school at 18 years old. Jordan was a 21 year old rookie. Karl Malone and Kareem were 22, Wilt Chamberlain was 23, roughly 5 years older than Bryant. So, it’s really just a title with no basis for real comparisons. Not to mention that Jordan retired a few years, so not looking at the things fairly.

‘Games’ to Measure Who is Really the Fastest to 30,000 Points

If years and days and months don’t work, what can we look at so that every player is on the same page when comparing this accomplishment? The answer is using games-played as our metric. When looking at that as our primary measure, that removes age and retirement and other factors.

Rank Player Games PPG at 30K
1 Wilt Chamberlain 941 31.9
2 Michael Jordan 960 31.3
3 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1101 27.4
4 LeBron James 1107 27.1
5 Karl Malone 1152 26.0
6 Kobe Bryant 1180 25.4
7 Dirk Nowitzki 1377 21.8

When looking at games played to get to 30,000 points, LeBron is fourth when it comes to fastest to 30,000 points, a mere six games behind the great Kareem. The list of the fastest to 30,000 points is Wilt, Jordan, Kareem, LeBron, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and Nowitzki. Putting the ball in the basket is a specialty of all seven players, but it’s no surprise that Chamberlain tops the list with his crazy scoring forays; Wilt hit 30,000 points in only 941 games at a 31.3 point clip (at that point in his career).

The way LBJ is playing, there isn’t a question that he’ll hit 35,000 points. The real question is, can LeBron play  long enough to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer?

(621)

4 Comments

  • Alonzo D. Turner

    Time to edit this article as LeBron didn’t score the 25 points necessary to reach 30,000 points

  • Daniel Barch

    Also you can fix where it says Lebron is fifth, and change it to fourth…

    When looking at games played to get to 30,000 points, LeBron is fifth when it comes to fastest to 30,000 points, a mere six games behind Kareem. The list of the fastest to 30,000 points is Wilt, Jordan, Kareem, LeBron, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and Nowitzki.

  • Another important note, no one on that list shot worse than 45% FG for his career, except for Kobe Bryant. This makes his “feat” less impressive when all he had to do to get to that mark was jack up a record-breaking number of shots despite his futility at putting the ball in the basket at a high percentage.

  • Also note that Wilt and Kareem played either before there was a 3-point shot, or rarely took one when it came into the league. Same with Karl Malone, and to an extent Jordan – those were players who ‘grew up’ in the NBA just a few years after the 3 was introduced, and was still considered a risky/gimmick play until years later.

    Kobe, LeBron, Dirk – they came of age in a league where the 3 was considered a main weapon, and players and teams were rehearsed in using it.

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