Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its original publication to include the result and updated stats following the Lakers’ 122-109 win over Washington on Friday night.
There is not a name for what LeBron James is about to accomplish – simply because it’s never been done before.
30,000 dots. 10,000 rebounds. 10,000 assists.
Do we call it the career triple-double? How about the triple-quintuple? Yes, that last term sounds ridiculous, but so is the feat that LeBron is now just two assists shy of achieving following the Lakers’ win over the Wizards on Friday night that saw LeBron score 50 points for the second time in less than a week.
His next shot at reaching the first-ever milestone comes on Sunday when the Lakers visit the Suns in Phoenix (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN).
How do we put something that’s never been done before into the proper perspective? Let’s start by breaking down the accomplishment piece by piece.
Below is a look at the number of players that have hit the major scoring milestones in NBA history. Not only has LeBron scaled each rung of this scoring ladder, he was also the youngest player to reach each of these marks.
- 10,000 points: 381 players
- 15,000 points: 142 players
- 20,000 points: 49 players
- 25,000 points: 23 players
- 30,000 points: 7 players (LeBron, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Dirk Nowitzki, Wilt Chamberlain)
- 35,000 points: 3 players (Kareem, Malone, LeBron)
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It’s not just that no player has ever accumulated 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists in their career – since only seven players have ever reached 30,000 points. Even if we drop the scoring threshold to 10,000 points, there is still not another player to reach the career triple-quintuple (10K-10K-10K).
Throughout his career, LeBron has had a contentious relationship with the “scorer” label. When he passed Jordan as the NBA’s top playoff scorer of all time, he was adamant that he did not want to be referred to as a “scorer.”
“I’m not a scorer. I don’t want to be labeled as a scorer. I can put the ball in the hoop, but I’m a playmaker,” he said. “I’m a player. Put me on the court and I’ll find ways to be successful. When you talk about scorers, you have a lot of great scorers in our league of all time, guys that shot a lot of shots, volume shooters that score the ball at a high clip. I’m not one of those guys. I’m a guy that always got happy and excited in seeing my team be successful.”
Contrast that with his comments from a recent episode of his Showtime series The Shop, “When they talk about the best scorers of all time, they never mention my name.” James then added, “it pisses me off.”
This 30K-10K-10K feat proves both of those statements to be correct. LeBron is much more than a scorer and impacts all aspects of the game as his playmaking and rebounding numbers suggest and the eye test proves on a nightly basis. At the same time, when it comes to the scoring aspect of his game, LeBron is one of the best of all time.
While LeBron doesn’t have Jordan’s 10 scoring titles or the incredible scoring peaks of players like Wilt (50.4 ppg in 1961-62), Jordan (37.1 ppg in 1986-87), Kobe (35.4 ppg in 2005-06) or James Harden (36.1 ppg in 2018-19), no player has ever matched the level of consistent excellence and longevity that we have seen from LeBron.
After his second 50-plus point game in under a week on Friday, LeBron currently leads the NBA in scoring (29.71 ppg), holding a very slim lead over both Joel Embiid (29.68) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.66). In his 19th season, this is LeBron’s highest scoring average in over a decade and he is on pace for his 18th straight season of averaging at least 25 points – no other player has more than 11 such seasons. The fact that’s he’s in contention for his second scoring title this late into his career is simply unheard of.
Take a look at this list of players that have averaged 10 points or more in their 19th season or later.
No player comes close to matching LeBron’s production and efficiency this deep into their career. LeBron already owns the fifth-highest scoring average in league history (27.09 ppg) – trailing only Jordan (30.12), Chamberlain (30.07), Elgin Baylor (27.36) and Kevin Durant (27.11) – and he’s still increasing that average in 37 years old.
LeBron reached 10,000 career rebounds on Jan. 19, 2022 and currently sits in 39th place in the all-time category. While he’s in the top tier on the scoring milestone ladder, when it comes to rebounding, he lands in the middle of this list of league’s greatest glass cleaners.
- 5,000 rebounds: 270 players
- 7,500 rebounds: 88 players
- 10,000 rebounds: 42 players (including LeBron)
- 12,500 rebounds: 19 players
- 15,000 rebounds: 6 players (Wilt, Bill Russell, Kareem, Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Tim Duncan)
Being a perimeter-based player makes it much more difficult to rack up the number of rebounds as some of the game’s all-time greats. LeBron ranks 16th all-time among non-centers and there are only nine players in league history with more rebounds that are shorter than LeBron at 6-foot-9.
Now that we have examined two categories, we can now look at some more combination stats.
- 10K PTS, 10K REB: 38 players
- 15K PTS, 10K REB: 27 players
- 20K PTS, 10K REB: 19 players
- 25K PTS, 10K REB: 11 players
- 30K PTS, 10K REB: 5 players (Kareem, K. Malone, LeBron, Dirk, Wilt)
- 35K PTS, 10K REB: 3 players (Kareem, K. Malone, LeBron)
Already a member of the 30,000-point club and 10,000-rebound club, LeBron needs just two more assists to become the seventh player ever added to the 10,000-assist club – a who’s who of the game’s greatest playmakers.
10,000 ASSIST CLUB
- John Stockton: 15,806
- Jason Kidd: 12,091
- Chris Paul: 10,894
- Steve Nash: 10,335
- Mark Jackson: 10,334
- Magic Johnson: 10,141
Of the three stats needed for the career triple-double, assists are the most difficult to achieve – and will be the final one for LeBron to check off the list. There are 381 players with 10,000 points, 42 players with 10,000 boards, but only six with 10,000 dimes.
Of the six players that have already reached 10,000 career assists, none has a career scoring average over 20 points per game – Magic leads the group at 19.5 ppg, followed by Paul (18.2), Nash (14.3), Stockton (13.1), Kidd (12.6) and Jackson (9.6). At 27.1 points per game, LeBron more than doubles the scoring average of the latter half of this field.
Paul is currently the only member of the 20,000-point, 10,000-assist club – although he’s about to get some company very soon – as he and LeBron share the instinct of when it’s time to create for teammates and when it’s time to call their own number to get a bucket.
Where LeBron separates from Paul is the fact that LeBron is one of only seven players in league history to have won both a scoring title (2007-08, 30.0 ppg) and an assist title (2019-20, 10.2 apg) in their career. LeBron joins Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Nate Archibald, Russell Westbrook and James Harden as the only players to accomplish that feat.
Let’s revisit the stats combinations we started in the rebounds section and add assists into the mix:
- 10K PTS, 10K REB, 2K AST: 33 players
- 10K PTS, 10K REB, 3K AST: 17 players
- 10K PTS, 10K REB, 4K AST: 8 players (LeBron, Kareem, Kevin Garnett, K. Malone, Wilt, Duncan, Barkley, Russell)
- 10K PTS, 10K REB, 5K AST: 4 players (LeBron, Kareem, Garnett, K. Malone)
- 20K PTS, 10K REB, 5K AST: 4 players (doubling the points threshold made no changes)
- 30K PTS, 10K REB, 5K AST: 3 players (it took another 10,000 points to remove Garnett)
- 10K PTS, 10K REB, 6K AST: 1 player (LeBron)
LeBron and Kareem are the only two players to rank in the top 50 in all three categories. LeBron is third in points, seventh in assists and 39th in rebounds; Kareem is first in points, third in rebounds and 45th in assists.
STILL CLIMBING THE LADDER
As LeBron is set to become the first to hit the 30K-10K-10K milestone, we have to keep in mind that he’s still not done. He may be 37 years old and in his 19th season, but he is still putting up incredible numbers – including his recent 56-point outburst, which not only marked his highest-scoring game in four seasons as a Laker, but matched the third- highest scoring game of his career, as well as his 50-point night against Washington six days later.
LeBron enters Sunday’s game against Phoenix with season averages of 29.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 6.3 apg over 48 games played. The Lakers have 16 games remaining in the regular season and all are of great significance as Los Angeles finds itself in the play-in field at No. 9 in the Western Conference.
Points (36,793; 3rd)
- Needs 136 to pass Karl Malone for 2nd all time (5 games based on current PPG)
- Needs 1,595 to pass Kareem for 1st all time (54 games based on current PPG; 59 based on career PPG)
One major move that LeBron should make over the final month of the regular season is passing Karl Malone for second place on the all-time scoring list. Based on LeBron’s current scoring average, he would need just five games to pass Malone, which would leave only Kareem ahead of LeBron in career points in league history. That pursuit will have to continue next season as LeBron needs nearly 1,600 more points to catch the Captain.
Rebounds (10,143; 39th)
- Needs 66 to pass Zach Randolph for 38th all time (9 games based on current RPG)
- Needs 355 to pass David Robinson for 32nd all time (44 games based on current RPG); he would pass Otis Thorpe, Bill Laimbeer, Dave Cowens, Tyson Chandler and Ben Wallace along the way
LeBron is on track to pass Zach Randolph on the all-time rebounds list this season and can make some more significant gains on the leaderboard next season.
Assists (9,998; 7th)
- Needs 2 to reach 10,000 mark – 7th player ever to reach milestone (1 game based on current APG)
- Needs 144 to pass Magic for 6th all-time (24 games based on current APG)
- Needs 337 to pass Jackson for 5th all time and 338 to pass Nash for 4th all time (55 games based on current APG to pass both)
While LeBron will reach 10,000 career assists this season, he will need another to make any further moves up the leaderboard. However, he has three legends in his sights that he should catch next season, assuming good health. LeBron is already the only player ranked in the top 10 in both scoring and assists – next season he’ll likely be top five in both categories.
Triple-Doubles (104, 5th)
- Needs 4 to pass Jason Kidd for 4th all time
LeBron ranks fifth on the all-time triple-double list and needs four more to pass Jason Kidd for fourth place behind Magic, Oscar and Westbrook. LeBron currently has five triple-doubles this season in 48 games played and has finished with five or more triple-doubles in each of the past six seasons. If that trend continues next season, expect LeBron to pass Kidd.