By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com
The 2013-14 NBA season is less than three months away and excitement levels are already high. LeBron James has his eyes on a third straight championship, Dwight Howard will try to prove doubters wrong, and the Brooklyn Nets aim to make a deep playoff run with their new squad. But for many of the longtime veterans in the league, this upcoming season is a chance for them to further etch their names into the record books.
Here are seven players who have milestones in their sights:
Kobe Bryant – Points, Assists, Free Throws
Bryant will face his biggest challenge this summer as he attempts to successfully rehab from a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered in mid-April. But when he does return, he’ll have multiple milestones in clear sight. The most important milestone for Bryant is points as he needs only 676 points to pass Michael Jordan for third all time. It will take Bryant nearly 300 more games than Jordan played to pass His Airness, but that doesn’t diminish the milestone’s significance. Bryant also needs 113 assists to become only the 30th player in NBA history to reach 6,000 and 532-free throw attempts to become only the fifth player to attempt at least 10,000 free throws. The other four who’ve done it: Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, and Karl Malone. That’s okay company.
Kevin Garnett – Field Goals, Minutes, Rebounds, Blocks
It’s easy to understand how one of the most dominant players in the league for the past 18 seasons is on the verge of multiple milestones. He needs 363 field goals to pass Moses Malone, George Gervin, Dan Issel, and John Havlicek for 11th all time. After playing 58 minutes next season, he will pass Wilt Chamberlain for sixth all time to join the elite company of Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Jason Kidd, Karl Malone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Then he’ll also need 399 rebounds to reach ninth all time and 30 blocks to reach 2,000 for his career. All four of these milestones are attainable if he stays healthy and soon he’ll be able to add Hall-of-Fame inductee to his list of milestones.
Steve Nash – Assists, Turnovers
The almost 40-year-old Nash is close to two significant milestones for next season. He is only 86 assists away from passing Mark Jackson for third all time and he needs just 90 turnovers to move into 10th all time. The turnover milestone may seem like a bad thing, but it shows its importance when you look at the nine players who will be in front of him: Hakeem Olajuwon, Isiah Thomas, Kobe Bryant, Artis Gilmore, Julius Erving, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, Moses Malone, and Karl Malone. It doesn’t get much more elite than that.
Andre Miller – Assists
Miller has been one of the best distributors in the league for most of his 14-year career, but his lack of flashiness has caused him to be consistently underrated. However, if he can collect 44 assists next season he will reach 8,000 for his career and join Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd, and John Stockton as the only players to reach the milestone.
Ray Allen – 3-Point
Unlike all of the other milestones mentioned, Allen has already reached the top of the statistical category and now he’s just extending his lead. It will take a good season for him to make 143 3-pointers, but if he does he will become the first player in NBA history to reach 3,000 3-pointers and it’ll make his record even more difficult to pass.
Paul Pierce – Points
Pierce’s first season outside of Boston could be a historic one if he is able to score 979 points to reach 25,000 for his career. Only 21 players in NBA history have reached this mark and Dirk Nowitzki, Garnett, and Bryant are the only active players to get there. It would an incredible accomplishment for Pierce who has faced and conquered many challenges during his 15-year career.
Jason Terry – 3-Point
Many people fail to notice how prolific Terry’s 3-point shooting has been throughout his career. But with only 78 3-pointers next season he will pass Jason Kidd to become third all time and join the special company of Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. Consistency has been the key for Terry as his rookie year was the only season during his 14-year career in which he shot below 34 percent from 3-point range.