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By The Numbers: NBA Milestones On The Horizon
Posted By Jabari Davis On September 3, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
While everyone is eagerly anticipating the return of NBA action as we head into the 2013-14 season, those of us that also appreciate the game from a historical perspective have even more to look forward to.
Of course, the season should naturally provide plenty of fascinating storylines as we are faced with a Miami HEAT team returning from back-to-back-to-back Finals appearances with the hopes of defending their titles and becoming the first team to earn the Larry O’Brien trophy in three consecutive years since the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers teams from the early 2000′s. Plenty of other teams have also either made significant improvements to challenge Miami’s title hopes or, perhaps strategically (if not covertly), positioned themselves to be in the running for the services of upcoming players like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker among others.
Beyond each of those storylines, there are several veterans approaching some of the all-time NBA milestones to keep an eye on:
Andre Miller needs just 44 assists to join Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas, John Stockton, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash in the 8,000-assist club. An above-average starter for the first decade of his career, Miller has transitioned to providing above-average reserve minutes for both the Portland Trail Blazers and most recently the Denver Nuggets for the last few seasons. The milestone denotes Miller’s steadiness as one of his generation’s most dependable guards.
As Steve Nash heads into his 18th season, he is only 86 assists away from passing Mark Jackson for third on the all-time assists list. When he wasn’t severely hampered by injuries (leg/back/hip) during his first season playing alongside Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, Nash often found himself in a catch-and-shoot position because it gave the team its best opportunity to win. With the additions of several players with skill-sets more befitting of coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, a (reportedly) fully healthy Nash should reach the milestone fairly early in the season.
For as much as the aforementioned Bryant is knocked for the misconception that he is not a willing passer, he is only 113 assists away from reaching 30th on the all-time assists list. Bryant, who in his 18th season, will likely ease himself back into action once he does return but, like Nash, could accomplish this milestone fairly early as well.
Paul Pierce (24,021), Ray Allen (23,804) and Tim Duncan (23,785) are all within reasonable striking distance of recently retired Allen Iverson’s (24,368) 19th spot on the all-time scoring list. Even in the event of slightly diminished roles, all three of these veterans should be able to pass Iverson fairly early in the season. Allen, in particular, could have a slightly increased workload, as his Miami HEAT decided to amnesty the floor-spacing Mike Miller earlier this summer.
Kobe Bryant is just 383 points away from the 32,000-point mark so it’s a fair assumption that he’ll be doing his fair share of scoring to go along with the assists. Don’t think, for even a moment, that Bryant doesn’t also realize that he’s just 676 points away from passing Michael Jordan for third on the all-time scoring list.
Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki are each on pace to accomplish scoring milestones. Garnett needs six points to pass Reggie Miller for 14th on the all-time list. Nowitzki is 142 points away from passing Jerry West for 16th on the scoring list.
Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are 399 and 530 rebounds shy of passing Walt Bellamy (ninth) and Hakeem Olajuwon (12th) on the all-time rebounding list, respectively.
Ray Allen is only 143 three-pointers away from being the first player to reach 3,000 treys for his career. Jason Terry needs just 78 three-pointers to pass Jason Kidd for third all-time behind Reggie Miller and Allen.
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