LeBron James is going to break the NBA all time scoring record in a matter of days. This will be a difficult and highly subjective exercise but let’s attempt to try to estimate just how many points LeBron will finish with. What makes this difficult is that there is no player that has averaged anywhere close to 30ppg at the age of 38. That could all change very quickly with the natural regression of age, or role if the Lakers were to add some quality players. At this point, I’m less confident of that, that LeBron’s role changing by being traded or signing with another team in a couple of years.
One important aspect we do know is that LeBron has a desire to play for at least two more years. He’s expressed in multiple interviews now his desire to play with his son Bronny James. The earliest that could happen is the 2024–25 seasons. Bronny James is a legit prospect in the 2024 draft, and I do believe that will happen. I’m confident someone will draft him if he enters the draft. He’s good, but LeBron has essentially said it’s a package deal.
If LeBron has made such a point now multiple times to say he will play with Bronny James, what about Bryce James? Bryce James may actually be the better long-term prospect. At the level LeBron is playing currently it’s certainly believable he could still be in the NBA in 2026-27 when Bryce James could enter the league. That would be LeBron’s age-42 seasons. Add to this Dennis Schroder’s statement. He said LeBron told him he wants to play another 5 to 7 years.
“I asked him how much longer he wants to play, and he said until 45″ — Dennis Schroder
Regardless of where it ends up, it seems highly likely given the level LeBron is playing now and from what he has said that he will be in the league until at least age 42 would be my guess. Age 45 is a long time in basketball years from now, and a lot can change certainly in that time period with injuries or further eroding of his game. What is clear is he has certain targets he wants to hit that will keep him motivated. One side effect of that is likely a scoring record that will essentially be almost unbreakable. Even as offense and efficiency are going up, so are load management and the calls for fewer games. If LeBron plays another 4 or 5 years this record may become as unbreakable as all the other major counting stats records.
There are no real precedents for a player playing as close to the level as LeBron James at this age. Karl Malone and Michael Jordan are as close as it gets, and the only comparisons we can draw on. Both were all-time great players, Jordan and LeBron being on the same tier almost everyone now considers number 1 and number 2. This is as close as it gets to projecting. LeBron in these later years has been moving up to power forward and center to hide him more on defense. He’s playing more like a higher-skilled version of Malone with that size that can dribble pass like Magic and shoot as well. It’s a great combination for longevity. Even Magic who was far less athletic played a similar style at 36 years old after he came out of retirement.
I believe we can draw some on their regression. LeBron’s likely looks similar but occurs later.
46,141 Projected Points
He told people he wanted to play for at least 5 more years, but if you believe he will only play until 42 you can shave about 1000 off. I’d put the over under at 43,500 points. That should be enough to make it nearly unbreakable they way players are unlikely to play 82 games most years moving forward, even if there is another player with as much longevity.
I believe LeBron will be on whatever team Bronny James is on in 2024-25. He can opt out of that off-season and take less to make that happen if he needs. Teams will likely draft Bronny higher than he would normally go if he were anyone else. The potential to get a LeBron even at this age and level is to great. Just the name and ticket sales and interest in the franchise are too great. Potentially getting him at discount is that much more added value.
I would still expect Bronny to be drafted after the lottery. Any team taking him and getting LeBron is likely a more complete team than the Lakers are currently. LeBron will probably not have the usage or scoring load he does now. He will also have declined 2 more seasons. I think you see LeBron scoring more in the 23 or 24ppg range even if he’s still pretty good. The True shooting likely improves with less pressure to score and better shot selection. I believe the assist numbers per minute improve as well. That’s one skill he is unlikely to lose like his shooting as he continues to age. The rebounding even playing in the post more likely takes a hit. He’s more average rebounding than great. Declining athleticism will mean he gets to fewer balls.