Top stats to know: 2014-15 NBA schedule
August, 13, 2014
By Steven Martinez & Deontay Morris, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant needs 593 points to pass Michael Jordan for 3rd on the all-time scoring list.
The return of Kobe
After missing all but six games last season, Kobe Bryant will make his debut on Tuesday, October 28 when the Los Angeles Lakers play host to the Houston Rockets.
Bryant has scored 31,700 career points and if he scores at least 593 points, he’ll pass Michael Jordan for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
If he averages 20 points per game, he could pass Jordan on the scoring list around the 29th or 30th game of the Lakers season.
Those games happen to be at the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day and at the Dallas Mavericks the next day.
Last season, Bryant missed the Lakers season opener for the fifth time in his career. Ironically the Lakers have won all five of those openers.
They would prefer to have him in the lineup though as his 27.2 PPG in season openers is the most among active players and seventh-highest in NBA history (Michael Jordan holds the record, 30.8 PPG).
The King returns
Making a return of a different kind will be LeBron James, who returns to the Cleveland Cavaliers after spending the last four seasons with the Miami Heat.
LeBron will make his season-debut on October 30 when the Cavaliers play host to the New York Knicks.
Another highlight for him will be on Christmas Day when he and his teammates travel to South Beach to take on the Heat (5 ET/ABC).
When LeBron returns, he’ll do so as the second-leading scorer (26.7 PPG) among active players at the American Airlines Arena, trailing only Kevin Durant (27.6).
LeBron's teams have not lost on Christmas day since his rookie season in 2003 (7-1 record). That year, the Cavaliers lost to the Magic.
Champions quest for repeat
The defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs open their season hosting the Dallas Mavericks on October 28. The Spurs are 16-4 in their last 20 home openers.
Since Tim Duncan debuted in 1997, San Antonio is 16-1 in season openers, the best winning percentage (.941) among all teams in season openers over this time (their only loss was to the Suns in 2008).
The Spurs and Heat will face off for the first time since the NBA Finals on February 6 (9:30 ET on ESPN) in San Antonio.
Over the last four seasons (including regular and postseason), the New York Knicks (3-4) and Heat (9-10) are the only teams the Spurs have a losing record against.
Notable rookie debuts
Maybe Andrew Wiggins should get some advice from his father on avoiding first game jitters. Andrew’s dad - Mitchell Wiggins - scored 26 points in his first career game with the Bulls in 1983.
Wiggins, who reportedly will be traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, begins his pro career on October 29 at Memphis.
As for other notable rookies, Jabari Parker and the Milwaukee Bucks open at the Charlotte Hornets on October 29, while Nerlens Noel (who missed all of last season after recovering from a torn ACL) makes his long-awaited debut with the Philadelphia 76ers on October 29 at the Indiana Pacers.