On Tuesday, Dirk Nowitzki scored the 30,000th regular season point of his illustrious, soon-to-be 19-year career.
Nowitzki scored point No. 30,000 with 10:57 remaining in the second quarter. Dirk started the game with the Dallas Mavericks’ first eight points and finished the first quarter with 18. He came out quickly and hit the record-setting bucket over Larry Nance Jr. It was a baseline fadeaway jumper, of course. He becomes one of just six players in NBA history to score at least 30,000 points, including Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
THE SHOT HEARD AROUND THE AAC! CONGRATS ON 30K DIRK!! ???????? pic.twitter.com/r8QoozVmxZ
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 8, 2017
Nowitzki has scored over 1,600 more points than the next active player (LeBron James) and is on pace to finish this season with 30,340 points. In order to pass Chamberlain as the fifth-leading scorer in league history, he would need to average at least 15 points per game through at least 70 games next year — a feasible goal should he choose to play in his 20th NBA season.
The only active player on pace to catch Nowitzki’s projected points total before retiring is James, who ranks eighth all-time with 28,286 points. Other active players on the NBA’s Top 50 include Paul Pierce (No. 16, 26,364), Vince Carter (No. 23, 24,398), Carmelo Anthony (No. 25, 23,921), Dwyane Wade (No. 34, 21,213), Joe Johnson (No. 42, 19,822), and Pau Gasol (No. 43, 19,729).
Nowitzki’s 30,000-point mark, while historic and impressive, is not untouchable.
James is averaging 25.9 points per game with the Cleveland Cavaliers this year. He is on pace to surpass Shaquille O’Neal for No. 7 (28,596) before the playoffs and could crack 30,000 points by averaging 23 points through the first 50 games of next season.
The King could pass O’Neal, Chamberlain, Nowitzki, Jordan, and Kobe Bryant to move up to No. 4 all-time if he averages 23 points per game over the next three seasons, playing in just 70 games a year. At that same rate, he would need to play five more seasons to surpass Malone and six more to pass Abdul-Jabaar as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
Anthony is also on pace to crack 30,000 points should he average at least 21.4 points across 70 games in each of his next four seasons. Whether he breaks that milestone with the New York Knicks or another franchise remains uncertain.
In just 10 seasons, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant has amassed more than 19,000 points. He would have cracked the all-time top 50 this season had he not suffered a sprained MCL expected to sideline him until the playoffs.
Durant averaged 25.3 points per game with the Warriors before his injury. He can hit 30,000 points if he averages 24 points per game through 70 games for the next six seasons.
Nowitzki might have some company in the 30K club in the coming years, but at least for the remainder of this season, his neophyte status remains unscathed. And if he keeps it up next year, he could take another step up the decorated NBA scoring ladder.
He should just know one Cavalier great is breathing down his neck.