Last night, Kobe passed Hakeem “The Dream” to become the 8th highest scorer of all-time. By the end of 2011, he will have passed Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone to assume 6th place. For Kobe to capture and surpass the greatness of MJ (another topic for another day) at this point, he likely needs to accomplish several things. More rings (7) is a requirement. The all-time scoring title wouldn’t hurt. So, the question is, does Kobe have enough left in the tank to pass Cap for a record of 38,387 regular season career points that once seemed untouchable?
Here are the basic assumptions I have made:
* Kobe will play 34 more games this year
* Kobe will average 73 games per year over the remainder of his year. This is primarily based on the 72.9 games per year he has averaged over the first 14 years of his career (which includes 5 years where he played less than 70 games)
* Kobe will retire at age 38, after 21 seasons in the NBA
* Kobe’s scoring average will gradually decrease each year, but will remain over 20 by the time he retires (similar to Jordan – it is difficult to imagine Kobe remaining in the league when he can’t average at least 20 PPG)
These seem to be fairly conservative assumptions, and barring catastrophic injury (or missing all/most of any one season), it seems likely they will happen. What does this mean? The table below paints a likely scenario based on the assumptions above.
|Year||Age||Years in NBA||PPG||Est. Games Played||Annual Points||Points short of Kareem|
So if you look at the table above, it would appear that I’ve projected Kobe to fall 320 points shy of Kareem all-time. So, case closed right? Kobe settles for 2nd place all time? Wrong. Anyone who has watched Kobe for hundreds of hours on end (like yours truly) knows that Kobe doesn’t settle for 2nd, especially when he’s close. What the numbers above demonstrate is that The Black Mamba will get very close, and once he does, he will go in for the kill. It is almost impossible to imagine Kobe retiring within 300 points of Kareem (even 500-1000 points short is unlikely). As Derek Fisher once stated, Kobe’s unstated goal is not to be the greatest today, but the greatest all-time.
So where does that leave us? Kobe will pass Kareem somewhere during his 21st season as a Laker (or possibly, if necessary, his 22nd). If he has any sense of history, he’ll do it with a baby skyhook.