On April 8, 2014, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks scored 21 points against the Utah Jazz to pass Oscar Robertson for 10th place on the NBA’s career scoring list.
Dirk joins Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as the only active NBA players among the league’s Top 10 all-time scoring leaders. While Kobe has missed most of the 2013-14 season due to injury, he currently sits fourth on the list, undoubtedly eyeing Michael Jordan’s spot at third.
Here is where Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki currently stand among the NBA’s all-time scoring leaders. Stats provided by basketball-reference and are current as of April 12, 2014.
#1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 38,387 Points
Kareem led the NBA in scoring just two times, averaging 31.7 points in 1970-71 then a career best 34.8 points in 1971-72, but he sustained his greatness over the long haul. Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.6 points per game during his illustrious 20-year career.
#2) Karl Malone – 36,928 Points
While the Mailman never led the league in scoring, he was consistently great, finishing among the league’s top five scorers for 13 straight seasons from 1987-88 to 1999-00. Malone averaged a career best 31.0 points on 56.7% shooting in 1989-90 en route to his second NBA MVP award.
#3) Michael Jordan – 32,292 Points
Jordan led the league in scoring for seven straight years before retiring for the first time in 1993. After returning in 1995, MJ was the NBA’s scoring leader for three more consecutive years. His career 30.1 points per game is the highest in NBA history.
#4) Kobe Bryant – 31,700 Points
With just 592 points separating Kobe and Michael Jordan, there is no doubt Bryant will be doing some math after every game going forward. Kobe led the NBA in scoring in 2005-06 at 35.4 points per game and in 2006-07 at 31.6 points. Though he is aging, Bryant is still a dominant scorer when healthy, averaging 27.3 points in 2012-13.
#5) Wilt Chamberlain – 31,419 Points
Wilt led the NBA in scoring seven times in his career, including each of his first six years in the league. His scoring averages of 50.4 points in 1961-62 and 44.8 points in 1962-63 are simply ridiculous. Chamberlain also led the league in field goal percentage nine times, including a career best 72.7% in his final season in 1972-73.
#6) Shaquille O’Neal – 28,596 Points
Shaq led the league in scoring twice, but never reached the 30 points per game plateau. A remarkably consistent scorer, O’Neal averaged between 20.0 and 29.7 points in each of his first 14 seasons. Unstoppable in the post, Shaq led the league in field goal percentage 10 times.
#7) Moses Malone – 27,409 Points
Malone averaged a career best 31.1 points in 1981-82, one of his three NBA MVP seasons. The Hall of Famer scored at least 20 points per game for 11 straight seasons between 1978-79 and 1988-89.
#8) Elvin Hayes – 27,313 Points
Hayes burst on to the scene by leading the NBA in scoring as a rookie in 1968-69 at 28.4 points per game, the second best scoring mark of his career. Elvin averaged a career best 28.7 points in his third season and finished his 16-year NBA career with a 21.0 scoring average.
#9) Hakeem Olajuwon – 26,946 Points
The Dream was a nightmare for opponents in the post, averaging more than 20 points and shooting higher than 50% from the floor in each of his first 13 seasons. Hakeem averaged a career high 27.8 points in the 1994-95 season as he led the Houston Rockets to their second consecutive NBA title.
#10) Dirk Nowitzki – 26,733 Points
The sweet shooting 7-footer is climbing up the all-time scoring list and shows no sign of slowing down. In this his 16th NBA season, Dirk is still averaging 21.6 points and shooting nearly 50% from the field. Nowitzki will finish the 2013-14 season with roughly 1,750 points. Two more seasons at that pace and Dirk will surpass Olajuwon, Hayes, Moses Malone, and O’Neal for fifth on the all-time scoring list. Only time will tell where Nowitzki will go from here.