The 2021-22 season is set to begin and there are plenty of stats and numbers to know and keep track of as the season goes on. Here are just a handful of ones you should keep in mind this season.
LeBron James: Points and field goals made
The four-time MVP and 17-time All-NBA performer will be playing in his 19th season and is fresh off joining the 35,000-point club in 2020-21. He has averaged at least 25 ppg for 18 straight seasons and is on pace to move up in several different statistical categories this season.
In terms of scoring, he can soon pass Hall of Famer Karl Malone for No. 2 on the all-time scoring and field goals made list this season:
All-time scoring leaders, NBA history
James is just 1,561 points away from passing Malone. Based on recent history, he stands a good chance of accomplishing the feat as he has averaged 1,645 points over his last four seasons.
All-time field goals made leaders, NBA history
In that same four-season span, James has averaged 620 field goals made per season. He’d have to exceed his usual production a bit to surpass Malone for No. 2 on the list as he’s 625 field goals behind the former Jazz standout.
Aside from those two big statistical marks awaiting James, there are a handful of others he can accomplish in 2021-22 as well.
• In terms of minutes played, he currently ranks sixth (50,055) and has averaged about 2,190 total minutes per season over his last four seasons. Add another 2,190 or so minutes onto his career total and he would surpass Hall of Famers Jason Kidd (50,011), Kevin Garnett (50,418) and Dirk Nowitzki (51,368).
• Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson crafted his legend in the NBA as a solid scorer and reliable free throw shooter. James is on the cusp of passing Robertson in free throws made in the coming season. James (7,582) trails Robertson (7,694) by 112 free throws made for No. 4 all-time. He has averaged 277 free throws made over the last four seasons and if he comes close to that, he would no doubt surpass Robertson and close in on Kobe Bryant (8,378) for third place.
• He can also surpass Robertson on the all-time assists list for the No. 7 spot and perhaps move up even higher. James (who has 9,696 career assists) has averaged 558 assists per season over his last four seasons and is 191 assists away from Robertson (9,887) in career dimes for No. 7 all-time. Should he get 550 or so assists in 2021-22, he would also be close to passing Lakers legend Magic Johnson (10,141) for No. 6 all-time. Overall, James stands a great chance of becoming the seventh player overall – Johnson, Chris Paul, Mark Jackson, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and John Stockton are the others – of entering the 10,000 career assists club.
Dwight Howard: Total rebounds and offensive rebounds
Heading into his 18th season (and third stint with the Lakers) in 2021-22, Dwight Howard can get in on some of milestone fun with James this season. One of the best defensive big men of his era and a top-flight rebounder in his prime (five rebounding titles in six seasons from 2007-08 to 2012-13), Howard can pass a few Hall of Famers himself on the rebounding charts.
All-time rebounding leaders, NBA history
Over his last three seasons – the window in which he became a backup center – Howard has averaged 390 total rebounds per season. That would be enough to move him past Nate Thurmond for No. 10 on the all-time total rebounds list. If he ups his rebounding production ever so slightly, he’ll have a good shot at passing Kevin Garnett for the No. 9 spot as he has a 392-rebound edge on Howard.
• Howard could also potentially move as high as seventh in offensive rebounds in 2021-22. Howard has averaged 128 total rebounds per season over the past three seasons and has 4,033 career offensive rebounds. He is one offensive rebound behind Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth place. If Howard collects 120 or so offensive rebounds in 2021-22, he would pass Kevin Willis (4,132 offensive rebounds) for seventh place. After that, he’d trail Shaquille O’Neal (4,209) for sixth place in offensive rebounds.
Chris Paul: Assists and steals
Fresh off his 16th NBA season, Chris Paul joined an elite group in league history when he picked up career assist No. 10,000 on March 21, 2021 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Only Paul, Mark Jackson (10,334 career assists), Steve Nash (10,335), Jason Kidd (12,091) and all-time assists leader John Stockton (15,806) have amassed so many assists to date.
In 2021-22, Paul could easily move into the top 3 in all-time assists as he trails Jackson by 59 assists and Nash by 60. Paul has averaged 506 total assists across the last four seasons. Should he come close to that number, he may have a good chance to catch or surpass Kidd in 2022-23.
All-time assists leaders, NBA history
Additionally, Paul could climb the all-time steals leaderboard as well in 2021-22. He currently ranks fifth all-time in steals, just 113 behind Gary Payton for No. 4 in that category. Over the last four seasons, Paul has averaged 105 total steals but it isn’t a stretch to think he’d have a real shot at Payton after he posted 99 steals in 70 games last season. He’d still be a way off, though from the all-time leader: Stockton picked off an astounding 3,265.
All-time steals leaders, NBA history
Steph Curry: 3-pointers made
Last season, Stephen Curry played in 63 games, led the league in scoring (32.0 ppg, a career-high), 3-pointers made (337) and attempted (801). Since the 2012-13 season – the start of Curry and the Golden State Warriors’ rise in the West – Golden State’s star guard has made 212 or more 3-pointers in eight of those nine seasons. Additionally, Curry has hit 320 or more 3-pointers in three of those seasons (2015-16 with 402 3-pointers; 2016-17 with 324; 2020-21 with 337).
That kind of proficiency and reliability from deep makes it perhaps a sure bet that Curry will become the NBA’s 3-point king in 2021-22. He stands just 141 away from passing Ray Allen for the all-time lead in 3-pointers made, a number he could easily obliterate in the coming season should he hit 200 or more 3-pointers.
All-time 3-pointers made, NBA history