(manager's note: Bailey will contribute a column or article of some kind every two weeks until the end of the season.)
As of today, Dirk Nowitzki has scored 26,283 points in his illustrious career, which is good for the thirteenth spot on the NBA's all-time scoring list. By the end of the season, Dirk is in position to move up another three or four spots. With the assumption that Dirk's season scoring average of 21.6 points a game remains mostly consistent, we're going to take a look at the games when Dirk is most likely to jump up the list. In the process, I'll discuss the all-time greats Dirk will be passing.
#12: John Havlicek - 26,395 points
- Small forward/shooting guard
- Played 1962-1978
- Boston Celtics (Celtics' all-time leading scorer)
- 1974 NBA Finals MVP, 8 NBA Championships, 13x NBA All Star, 4x All-NBA 1st Team, 7x All-NBA 2nd Team, 5x All-NBA Defensive 1st Team, 3x All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team
- Averaged 20.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 4.8 assists per game
Dirk passes Havlicek on Tuesday, March 11 at the Golden State Warriors
Dirk needs 112 points to pass Havlicek's 26,395. Based on his average points per game, this will take just over five games. According to the math, Dirk will take the No. 12 spot fairly early in the game against the Warriors on March 11. But real life is not so mathematically precise, so it's also possible Dirk hits this mark a couple nights earlieragainst the Indiana Pacers.
#11: Dominique Wilkins - 26,668 points
- Small forward
- Played 1982-1995, 1999
- Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs
- 1998 NBA Scoring Champion, 9x NBA All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team, 4x All-NBA 2nd Team, 2x All-NBA 3rd Team
- Averaged 24.8 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, and 2.5 assists per game
Dirk passes Wilkins for #11 on Friday, April 4 at the Los Angeles Lakers
The 273 points between Havlicek and Wilkins will take Dirk around twelve games to achieve. How sweet will it be to savor another big Dirk career mark against the Lakers? Dirk should again hit point 26,669 early in the game, so again there is a possibility this happens a game early (April 3 at the Clippers).
#10 Oscar Robertson - 26,710 points
- Played 1960-1974
- Cincinnati Royals (Royals/Kings' all-time leading scorer), Milwaukee Bucks
- 1964 NBA MVP, 1 NBA Championship, 12x NBA All-Star, 9x All-NBA 1st Team, 2x All-NBA 2nd Team
- Averaged 25.7 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, and 9.5 assists per game
Dirk passes Robertson on Tuesday, April 8 at the Utah Jazz
Dirk should only need a couple of games to span the small 42-point gap between Wilkins and the Big O on the all-time list. Dirk should break into the top 10 in the first half of the game in Utah. Is anyone else a little bummed that all these big career points are happening on the road?
#9: Hakeem Olajuwon - 26,946 points
- Played 1984-2002
- Houston Rockets (Rockets' all time leading scorer), Toronto Raptors
- 1994 NBA MVP, 2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 2 NBA Championships, 12x NBA All-Star, 6x All-NBA 1st Team, 3x All-NBA 2nd Team, 2x All-NBA 3rd Team, 5x All-NBA Defensive 1st Team, 4x All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team
- Averaged 21.8 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game, and 3.1 blocks per game
Dirk passes Olajuwon in October/November 2014
According to the current math, Dirk should finish the regular season with 26,780 points. This means that he would need roughly another eight games to pass Hakeem for the ninth spot on the list, so we should probably pencil in this achievement for the early 2014-15 season.
Just for fun, I looked at what scoring average Dirk would need to pass Hakeem before the end of this season. If Dirk averages 28.9 points per game from here on out, he will finish the season with 26,948 points. If the team needs Dirk to score this much, this probably wouldn't be a good sign. Let's just save taking down the Dream for next season, when Dirk is also likely to pass Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, and maybe even Shaq.
I'm a lawyer who graduated from Wake Forest School of Law last year and recently passed the Texas Bar. I currently live in Richardson with my wife and two dogs. You can find me on Twitter @BRogers789.