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Will LeBron become the NBA's all-time leading scorer?

4/5/2015
AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

LeBron James moved into 20th on the NBA's all-time scoring list Thursday night, and if he keeps up this pace, he has a legitimate shot at breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record.

James began the 2014-15 season 27th on the NBA's scoring list, and he has passed seven players this season: Adrian Dantley, Robert Parish, Vince Carter, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen and Patrick Ewing.

James is 356 points from passing Jerry West for 19th, so West will likely keep his place on the scoring list until next season.

According to a projection by ESPN Stats & Information's Zach Bradshaw, James will move to 10th place by the end of the next season and pass Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leader during his age-39 season in 2023-24.

Bradshaw's model uses historical data to estimate the change in players' scoring average and games played due to age.

"Once a player has peaked, the decline in games played is less drastic for franchise-caliber players than typical NBA players, which was accounted for in the model," Bradshaw said. "Points per game tends to decline at a faster rate than games played."

Such a decline still has James projected to average 16.2 points per game in 62 projected games played during the 2023-24 season, enough to pass Abdul-Jabbar's record of 38,387 points.

James should break into the top 10 much sooner, as 2,109 points separate James and No. 10 Hakeem Olajuwon entering Sunday's game against the Chicago Bulls. James has scored at least 2,000 points in every non-lockout season since his rookie year except for this one, in which he has missed 11 games.

With six games left in 2014-15 as well, a healthy 2015-16 season from James very well could vault him into the top 10.

LeBron among other all-time greats in advanced stats

Win shares is a stat devised by Basketball-Reference.com to measure a player's overall contribution to winning. James ranks 12th on the all-time win shares list and is 3.5 win shares from moving into the top 10 on that list, which should happen early next season assuming health and typical levels of productivity.

Having accrued more than 178 win shares in his career, James is barely 95 win shares from passing Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leader in this category.

In terms of player efficiency rating, only Michael Jordan ranks ahead of James, who has a career rating of 27.7 (minimum 10 games played).