NBA Odds, Props: When will LeBron James break Kareem’s Record?

Edgar Chaput | Updated Jan 20, 2023

The question on the lips of many NBA fans these days is when will LeBron James finally surpass the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league's all-time scoring leader?

In the history of the NBA, few players have earned the admiration and respect of their peers and fans like LeBron James. Some will always find reasons to argue, pinpointing faults in his game and a couple of disappointing Finals defeats. The fact of the matter this man is partaking in his 20th campaign at age 38 and averages an inspiring 29.8 points per game.

After earning so many team and individual honours there isn’t much left for King James to conquer except, that is, for the all-time NBA scoring title. For a long time that distinction belonged to a former Lakers great, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The 38,387-points total seemed insurmountable, but his hold on the record is in jeopardy, with LeBron James currently second on the all-time list at 38,104. Given the blistering pace at which James is making buckets this season (and the diversification of his offensive game), it’s only a matter of time before he claims the top spot. The question is: when will the momentous occasion happen?

For the exercise we’ll assume Lebron does not suffer any significant injuries over the next few weeks. Ironic considering that as of Jan. 20, he’s listed as Day-to-Day.

When will LeBron break the Record?

  • Feb 9 v Milwaukee Bucks -165
  • Feb 7 v Oklahoma City Thunder +130
  • Feb 11 @ Golden State Warriors +1800
  • Feb 13 @ Portland Trail Blazers +6900
  • Later than Feb 28 +8100
  • Feb 23 v Golden State Warriors +8200
  • Feb 15 v New Orleans Pelicans +8300
  • Feb 26 @ Dallas Mavericks +10400
  • Feb 28 @ Memphis Grizzlies +15700
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Basketball Arithmetic

James needs to tally another 284 points to leapfrog over Abdul-Jabbar. There are many variables with which one can estimate when the big night will happen. Here are but a few.

Average Rate

Based on his season average of 29.8 points per outing, his 38,388th would be tallied in nine and a half games from now. Cold, hard math puts that at some point during the Feb. 7 contest at home against the Thunder. This game holds the best odds (at the time of writing) with +195. The king has averaged that amount through a whopping 35 games, so why would it stop? At home against Milwaukee two nights later (Feb. 9) is a very plausible +205. After all, what if he doesn’t score 29 against the Thunder but only 25 or 26?

When will LeBron break the Record?

  • Feb 7 v Oklahoma City Thunder +130

High Rate

That said, recent nights have witnessed LeBron going out of his mind to help his team win. His average is actually 35.2 points over the past five games. Anticipating that he keeps going at that rate is probably wishful thinking, but mathematically it means the record would be broken in eight games. As such, some may want to circle Feb. 2 in Indiana against the Pacers. It’s ambitious, ergo the +700 odds. To be fair, those stats were attained whilst beating up poor defences. Tougher challenges await.

When will LeBron break the Record?

  • Feb 2 @ Indiana Pacers +15000

Low Rate

A more conservative approach would be to expect some bad nights, or at least, performances that are less scintillating than what he’s accomplished since the New Year. Let’s pretend his per-contest average drops to 25 points (most players would be thrilled to score that many every time they play). At that rate, Abdul-Jabbar’s lofty figure would be surpassed in just over 11 contests. Take note, therefore, of Saturday, Feb. 11 in San Francisco against the Warriors. What a moment it would be if James accomplished the feat while on the same court as Stephen Curry. That’s currently +310.

When will LeBron break the Record?

  • Feb 11 @ Golden State Warriors +1800

Taking a Breather

Of course, we know that the current trend in the NBA is to have some players sit out games, a workload management strategy by which coaches keep their most important players fresh. James isn’t getting any younger. Under those circumstances, none of the three previously mentioned dates may be correct. A night off coupled with a lower rate would mean he’d be crowned all-time scoring king even later than Feb. 11. The odds do rise quickly after that date though. The Warriors match sits at +310, but Feb. 13 at Portland rockets to +500. It appears the oddsmakers are not betting that James spends much time in street clothes over the next few weeks.

As the old expression goes, only time will tell.