NBA 2020-21: LeBron James celebrated his 36th birthday by becoming the first player in NBA history to have 1,000 straight games with at least 10 points.
James’ baby hook shot with 6:15 left in the second quarter in San Antonio gave him 11 points for the game, marking the 1,000th straight game scoring in double-digits, a milestone that will be difficult to match.
He already owns the longest streak in NBA history — surpassing Michael Jordan’s mark of 866 games on March 30, 2018 — and he continues to extend the record every time he takes the court.
The last time LeBron failed to score 10 points in a game was on Jan. 5, 2007, when he had eight points, nine assists and five rebounds as the Cavs beat the Bucks. He has eight single-digit scoring games in his career, with six of them coming in 2003-04 (his rookie season).
Remember, this streak accounts for regular-season games only. James does have a pair of single-digit playoff games — in 2011 and 2014 when he was on the Miami Heat.
Adding those to his regular-season single-digit games total brings James to 10, which accounts for less than 1% (0.654% to be exact) of his 1,529 career games (regular season and playoffs combined).
As he has ascended the all-time scoring lists in the regular season (No. 3) and playoffs (No. 1), it is James’ scoring consistency that separates him from other NBA greats past and present. This looming 1,000-game streak of double-digit scoring is the latest example of that consistency.
LeBron averaged 25.3 ppg last season, which was 12th in the NBA and second on the Lakers to Anthony Davis (26.1 ppg, 10th in NBA).
It took until his 17th season for LeBron to not be his team’s leading scorer in a given season. What he did instead was lead the league in assists for the first time in his career (with a career-best 10.2 apg).
LeBron since entering the league:
1st in games
1st in minutes
1st in wins
1st in points
1st in MVP awards
1st in All-Star nods
1st in All-NBA nods
1st in playoff games
1st in playoff minutes
1st in playoff wins
1st in playoff points, rebounds, assists
And now, 1st in rings. pic.twitter.com/AQLSnrIQub
— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 23, 2020
While his team-scoring-leader streak was snapped, he did extend another remarkable streak as he averaged more than 25 ppg for the 16th consecutive season. After averaging 20.9 ppg as a rookie, LeBron has never averaged fewer than 25 ppg in a season.
That is the longest streak in league history by a wide margin. The next closest players are Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Michael Jordan with 11 straight seasons (and that’s if we include Jordan’s 1994-95 comeback season when he played only 17 games).
LeBron is not the pure scorer that Jordan was during his prime. Jordan won a record 10 scoring titles, while LeBron has one.
Jordan also has the highest scoring average in league history at 30.1 ppg, while LeBron’s 27.1 career ppg ranks fourth. But when it comes to longevity and consistency, LeBron holds the advantage over any of the all-time greats.
Since the 1983-84 season, there have only been nine streaks of at least 300 straight double-digit scoring performances. That list includes only two active streaks — LeBron at 999 and James Harden at 411.
When we look at active streaks, there are only six players who exceed 75 consecutive double-digit scoring games entering Wednesday’s games.
After Harden, the next longest active streak belongs to Kevin Durant (152 games), followed by Kawhi Leonard (125), Karl-Anthony Towns (113), and Bradley Beal (109).
Among the players with the longest active streaks, Harden likely has the best chance to challenge LeBron. Harden is the league’s preeminent scorer, having led the league in scoring in each of the past three seasons.
However, the trails LeBron by 588 games — the equivalent of more than seven full 82-game seasons. Plus, LeBron isn’t stopping at 1,000 games. That means this mark will keep rising, making it all the more difficult for anyone to challenge.