Kobe Bryant is now the third highest scorer all-time in NBA history and finds himself sandwich between Michael Jordan and Karl Malone in the record books. Bryant reached the milestone in his 1,269 game - after hitting two free throws during the second quarter of a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With Kobe's career in its twilight and the current fortunes of the Los Angeles Lakers, the focus now shifts more towards where Kobe the individual will end up in the record books vs. where a Kobe-led team will finish in the standings.
Kobe's climb to 3rd all-time:
At the age of 36 and his best years behind him, does he have a chance to reach 2nd all-time? How about becoming the leading scorer all-time? At 32,310 points, Kobe is 4,618 points shy of Karl Malone and 6,077 points shy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
We decided to crunch a few numbers to see what it would take for Kobe to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Kobe Bryant's Career Numbers:
This season, Kobe is averaging 25.4 points per game. If we assume no decline in his production and no games missed, when would Kobe pass Malone and Abdul-Jabbar? To pass Malone, he would need to play 182 more games, which would be sometime in the middle of the 2016-17 NBA season at the age of 38. To pass Abdul-Jabbar, he would need to play around 239 more games, which would take Kobe into the early part of the 2017-18 season at the age of 39.
If by some miracle he were to recapture his elite production from his 2005-06 season, where he averaged 35.4 points per game, the Malone game number would fall to 130 games (late next season) and his Abdul-Jabbar number would fall to 171 games (31 games into the 2016-17 season). However, the likelihood of him getting back to that level is almost impossible unless the Lakers implement a Kobe only scoring strategy and throw out any idea of winning.
However, if he were to decline after this season and put up just 20 points per game, Kobe will pass Malone near the end of the 2016-17 season and Abdul-Jabbar at the end of the 2017-18 season.
The question really becomes whether Kobe is willing to play until he is nearly 40 and if he can produce at around 20+ points per game. Seems like a bit of a grind but if it's that important to him it can be done.
Top 20 All-time NBA Scoing Leaders: