Putting LeBron James' 40,000 points in perspective, from the absurd to the amazing

For a player to score 40,000 points in the NBA, it requires about 14,660 made shots, including 2,380 3-pointers and 8,300 made free throws in 55,600 minutes over 1,475 games while shooting 50.5% from the field over the course of 21 seasons.

For a commoner to score 40,000 points doing the Mikan drill on their driveway basket, they would need to make 20,000 shots, which would take about 17 hours of continuous shooting without a miss.

There are multiple ways to put into perspective LeBron James’ unprecedented accomplishment of 40,000 points, which he reached Saturday night against the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets to extend his NBA record for all-time points, while putting even more distance between him and No. 2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).

By season’s end, the Los Angeles Lakers' forward will have about as many points as Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas combined.

If you split James’ career in half – take his first 10 seasons and his next 11 seasons – you have two Hall of Fame careers. He scored 21,081 points in his first 10 seasons, which would make him the No. 41 all-time scorer, and every player who is no longer active with at least 21,000 points is in the Hall of Fame, except Vince Carter who is a finalist this year in his first year of eligibility.

If you take James’ past 11 seasons, he has 18,910 points, which still puts him in the top 70 at No. 66, just behind Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen’s 18,940 points.

Think of all the points the Golden State Warriors scored from 2014-15 to 2017-18 when they won three titles with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant on rosters. In those four seasons, they totaled 37,244 points. Singled-handedly, James has scored more points than a dynasty did over four seasons.

What draws a chuckle – and just because the Lakers have had so many great players – is that James is just No. 13 on the Lakers’ all-time scoring list in his six seasons.

Lakers forward LeBron James acknowledges the crowd in Los Angeles after scoring his 40,000th career point, Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets.
Lakers forward LeBron James acknowledges the crowd in Los Angeles after scoring his 40,000th career point, Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets.

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When he scored 31 points earlier this season, he became the first player to have 30-point games separated by at least 20 years.

And he is on pace to become just the second player to score at least 1,600 points in his rookie season and at least 1,600 points at 39 years old, joining, yes of course, Michael Jordan.

Averaging 25.2 points this season – four more than his rookie season – James will become the oldest player to score more than 20.6 points per game in a season, and if he averages at least 20 points next season, he will become the first player 40 or older to hit that mark.

Among James’ scoring records and achievements, his streak of 1,204 consecutive games with at least 10 points is one of the most underrated and underappreciated. He last scored fewer than 10 points on Jan. 6, 2007 with eight points against Milwaukee. Every game since then, at least 10 points. Jordan is No. 2 on the list with 866 consecutive games with 10 or more points, and Philadelphia's Joel Embiid is next active player on the list at 169 games. Like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, it’s difficult to see anyone touching that record.

Making it more impressive, he's never been one-dimensional. James has accumulated a record number of points while also accumulating an astounding amount of assists. He is No. 4 on the all-time assists list behind Chris Paul and has an outside chance to pass Paul depending on how much longer both play. James is the only player in the top four in both all-time points and assists and just one other player is in the top 20 – Oscar Robertson at No. 8 in assists and No. 14 in scoring.

James' production of points directly through scoring or indirectly through assists spotlights the unique offensive player he is. And it’s been on display from his first game in 2003 when he had 25 points and nine assists through Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers when he had 34 points and eight assists, accounting for 77% of the Lakers’ points in a fourth-quarter comeback – 19 points scored and four assists creating 11 points.

At 39 years old, James just isn’t hanging on for the final few chapters of his career. His imprint on the game remains significant. You can parse and compare, dissect and examine, and it all leads back to the same conclusion.

There has never been an all-time like LeBron James and there will never be another like him.

Follow NBA columnist Jeff Zillgitt on social media @JeffZillgitt

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Putting LeBron's 40,000 points in perspective, from absurd to amazing