After two seasons as LeBron James’ coach, Frank Vogel already knows the routine.
As the Los Angeles Lakers superstar approaches a statistical milestone to add even more to his decorated career, Vogel receives a tip from a member of the public relations staff.
“Our PR team, more than anyone, just lets us know, ‘Hey, it’s going to happen to this person,’ with that many points or rebounds or whatever,” said Vogel, having been through that countless times since 2019. “Social networks, sometimes you see it there.”
Rather than make a grand gesture, Vogel acknowledges accomplishments, but acknowledges that James, 36, entering his 19th season, is fine with being low-key.
“Nothing in an official capacity, but when it happens you congratulate him,” Vogel said. “But actually, he’s very much in the moment rather than thinking about those big-picture things. I think it’s more of a sort of after-the-fact reflection and when you cross those milestones, you feel good about it.
“But you either won a game last night or you lost a game, and what is the next step in our process? Practice tomorrow. That sort of thing. It really stays in the moment a lot.”
James has repeatedly said that he will not look in the rearview mirror until he retires, at which point he and his longtime friend and business partner, Maverick Carter, will remember and share stories while uncorking bottles of wine.
What unfolds this season could get them grabbing another bottle from the cellar. Here’s a look at the next milestones James can achieve in 2021-22.
REGULAR SEASON POINTS
When James surpassed Hall of Fame point guard Allen Iverson on the all-time scorers list in 2015, he made a direct comment on how the media described his game in the early stages of his career. “For someone who is not a great scorer, as you have considered me, he is very good,” James said.
While journalists got it wrong, a trope repeated by talking heads that has proven to be accurate is how James, at 6-foot-9 and 250-pound, is a point guard on the body of the Hall of Famer and former wingman. Utah Jazz center Karl Malone.
And he’s in range to surpass his ‘body double’ to be No. 2 on the all-time scoring list this season. James enters this season 1,561 points behind Malone. If he plays every game and averages 25 points per night, which is within the range of his average from the past two seasons, he will top Malone on the list sometime around Game No. 63 against Golden State on March 5. .
In fact, if James can maintain an average of 25 points per game going forward, he will need 121 games to surpass great Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) for No. 1.
While the all-time scoring list celebrates offensive ability over time, James is also set to move up a couple of longevity charts. If he plays all 82 games this season, he can go from 19th place to tie with Tim Duncan for 10th place on the all-time games played list at 1,392. If James records 1,314 more minutes, he will jump from No. 6 to No. 3 on the all-time list, beating Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki (who is currently third with 51,368 minutes played in the regular season).
James enters the season with 12,903 baskets, putting him in third place behind Malone and Abdul-Jabbar. He would need 625 to pass Malone, which is doable considering he had 643 in 2019-20, but he’s still a long way from Abdul-Jabbar, who has 2,934 more shots than James. He would need to average nine baskets per game over nearly four full seasons to outpace the former Bucks and Lakers center.
In terms of attempts, James is fourth on the all-time list with 25,604. With 607 more attempts this season, he will overtake Kobe Bryant and Malone in second place. He is still 2,703 attempts behind Abdul-Jabbar’s historic mark.
On the other hand, James is currently fourth in all-time missed field goals. If he misses 718 more, he will overtake Hall of Fame great Elvin Hayes (third with 13,296 misses) and Celtics star John Havlicek (second with 13,417) to rank behind Bryant, who recorded the most missed shots in the season. league history with 14,481.
TRIPLE AND FREE
As the NBA has undergone a 3-point revolution in the past decade, so has James’s game. He set personal best in both hit (2.3) and shot (6.3) volume of 3 last season.
“Once I’m in the gym, I’m in my range,” James once told ESPN.
His triples have been piling up. He entered this season with 1,979 3-pointers, putting him 13th all-time and fourth among active players with only Stephen Curry (second), James Harden (fifth) and Damian Lillard (10th) above him. He needed four more triples to pass Nowitzki (which he accomplished in Tuesday’s season opener) to move into the top 12 and five more to pass Kidd in 11th place. Most of James has had 3-pointers in a season is 149; If he can do 165 this season, he will pass Paul Pierce for No. 9.
James enters the season fifth all-time in free throws made with 7,582, although he has shot below 70% in the past three seasons and also averaged 5.7 attempts per game, his career low, last season.
He needs 113 touchdowns from the line to pass Hall of Fame point guard Oscar Robertson for fourth. Becoming the all-time free kick king is probably out of your league. He is 2,250 free throws behind Malone’s all-time record. He would need to do six a game for 368 games (or four and a half seasons) to get there.
ASSISTS, REBOUNDS AND TRIPLE-DOUBLES
James is already in the top 10 in assists of all time, coming into the season at No. 8 with 9,696. If he becomes the seventh player to reach 10,000 assists, he will pass Robertson (9,887) in the process.
With 640 assists, a total he’s reached four times in his career so far, he can beat Magic Johnson, Mark Jackson and Steve Nash in the top five. But he will also chase his friend Chris Paul in the process, who entered this season fifth with 10,225 assists.
Compared to his other accomplishments, James is relatively average when it comes to grabbing rebounds, 42nd all-time. If he catches 400 rebounds, which is roughly his average, he will move ahead of Red Kerr and Shawn Marion in the top 40.
You can also further distinguish yourself by adding rebounds and assists to your point total. With 249 more rebounds and 304 more assists, he will become the first player to reach the 10,000 mark in each category.
And his next triple-double will be the 100th of his career, making him the fifth player to reach that mark, along with Kidd, Johnson, Robertson and new teammate Russell Westbrook. That next triple-double would also break a tie between him and Elgin Baylor for the second-most in Lakers history (James is 26 in his first three seasons in Los Angeles), placing him behind only Johnson.
James laments the fact that he never won Defensive Player of the Year and brought it up last offseason after the Lakers signed Marc Gasol. “Marc has my Defensive Player of the Year trophy at home,” James said on the “Road Trippin ‘Podcast,” referring to the 2012-13 season when James came second behind the center.
But James, whose signature play of his career came on the defensive end, blocking in pursuit of Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, has the stats to show just how good he’s been as a defensive ace.
James is ranked 13th on the all-time robbery list and will rise to No. 10 with 50 more, passing Mookie Blaylock (12th) and Malone (11th) en route to unseat Alvin Robertson. If he records 100 steals, to bring his career total to 2,163, he will pass Hakeem Olajuwon, a two-time DPOY winner, in ninth place.
James is also 104th on the all-time block list with 982, and with 26 more, one more than last season’s total, he can comfortably move into the top 100 and pass players like Mike Gminski, Emeka Okafor. , Chris Andersen, John Salley, Bobby Jones and Rick Mahorn.
James already replaced Michael Jordan as the top postseason scorer in 2017 and told ESPN early in training camp that adding to his four championships in hopes of getting closer to Jordan’s six remains a great passion.
“I still have a burning desire inside of me to want to continue to win and have the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season,” James said.
On your planned path to the title, you can solidify your statistical strength in the record books.
James, who already ranks first in points, playoff games, minutes, baskets, free throws, steals and turnovers, can climb to the top of the postseason triple-doubles list with three more to pass Johnson. (who has 30 against James 28).
James is also second in playoff triples, just 38 behind Stephen Curry at No. 1. And while Curry’s career should have a lot of time left, James’s team might be better prepared for deeper runs in the short term than those. Golden State Warriors. James hit more than 38 3s in a single postseason three times in his career (2017, 2018 and 2020).
He’s also second in assists in the playoffs, at 1,919, but he’s less likely to overtake Johnson for No. 1. He would need to average seven assists in 61 playoff games to break that all-time mark.
And with 2,381 career rebounds in the playoffs, James could catch two of the best centers on the postseason boards with a run from the Lakers in the Finals. He would go from No. 6 to No. 4 and surpass Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal with 118 rebounds this postseason.
Vogel, Los Angeles PR staff and James’ teammates will be closely monitoring these benchmarks that are within reach of the four-time champion.
“I try to give people credit and congratulations,” Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony said. “You have to do it. Any achievement, especially the things that the players on this team will achieve, can achieve or have the opportunity to achieve. You want to celebrate them, you don’t want to overlook those moments and not take them for granted.”