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Dirk milestone watch: Nowitzki projected to finish year seventh all time in scoring this season

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The Big German sits no. 10 in scoring all time, ever, in the history of the sport. And he ain't done yet.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With a team that wasn't anywhere near title contention the past two seasons, Dirk Nowitzki's ascension of the NBA career scoring list -- eventually reaching tenth all time last season -- was a significant storyline. Mavs fans can look forward to watching a much improved roster this year but that won't stop us from talking about the milestones Dirk is likely to reach in his seventeenth season.

Heading into the new season with 26,786 points, he sits 160 points behind Houston legend Hakeem Olajuwon, 527 points behind Elvin Hayes and 623 points behind Moses Malone. Although the Mavs have talked repeatedly about wanting to take more of the scoring burden off of Nowitzki with this team, he's likely to pass all three players by early next year.

Climbing to the seventh spot in the all-time points list would be a huge accomplishment but the way Nowitzki has reached this point illustrates just what a unique player he is.

Only a handful of players have even reached the 20,000 point plateau with a similar mix of two pointers, long range shots and makes at the free throw line. But by the second year of the new contract he signed this summer, Nowitzki will be well on his way to 30,000 points.

To calculate Dirk's likely production this season, we used his projected statistics per 36 minutes from basketballreference.com and adjusted those numbers for 30 minutes per game--the threshold the ceiling the Mavs have talked about maintaining for their franchise player.

We also assumed assumed Nowitzki would play 70 games on the low end--outside of two lockout shortened seasons, he's only played less than that once--and 80 games on the high end.

Using those projections, Dirk is likely to average 18.5 points per game. Even if he averages as little as 16.5 or as high as 20.5 points though, he should still finish ranked seventh on the career scoring list.

MPG

FG

FGA

3P

3PA

FT

FTA

ORB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

36

8.1

16.9

1.6

4.2

4.3

4.9

0.7

6.9

2.9

0.9

0.6

1.7

2.3

22.2

30

6.75

14.08

1.33

3.5

3.58

4.08

0.58

5.75

2.42

0.75

0.5

1.42

1.92

18.5

Assuming he's played in most of the Mavs games before the New Year, Dirk will pass top Olajuwon's scoring output by the end of November and Elvin Hayes by the end of December. After passing Moses Malone, likely by the end of January, he'll be looking up the rankings at former Mavs nemesis Shaquille O'Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Rank Player Points Projected Total
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* 38387
2 Karl Malone* 36928
3 Michael Jordan* 32292
4 Kobe Bryant 31700
5 Wilt Chamberlain* 31419
6 Shaquille O'Neal 28596
7 Moses Malone* 27409
8 Elvin Hayes* 27313
9 Hakeem Olajuwon* 26946
10 Dirk Nowitzki 26786
70 games (18.5) 1295 28081
80 games (18.5) 1480 28266

Aside from Bryant and Jordan, that top 10 list features a lot of big men who made their living in the post or--in Karl Malone's case--the elbow. Dirk did a lot of damage from the elbow too but he's mixed up his scoring output in a way other players, especially other seven footers, haven't done before. About 25 percent of his points have come from free throws and about 16.5 percent have come from threes.

Rank Player Threes Made Projected Total
10 Dale Ellis 1719
11 Jamal Crawford 1697
12 Steve Nash 1685
13 Kobe Bryant 1640
14 Joe Johnson 1591
15 Jason Richardson 1577
16 Glen Rice 1559
17 Eddie Jones 1546
18 Tim Hardaway 1542
19 Mike Miller 1531
20 Nick Van Exel 1528
21 Mike Bibby 1517
22 Kyle Korver 1508
23 Dirk Nowitzki 1471
70 games (1.333) 93.31 1564.31
80 games (1.333) 106.64 1577.64

Other big men--most notably Shaq--have earned more trips to the foul line but none have been more accurate than Nowitzki there. Meanwhile, the only players 6'10" or taller to make more threes than Dirk are Peja Stojakovic and Rashard Lewis, two players widely considered to be long range specialists for much of their careers.

Add in Nowitzki's rebounding production--he's likely to join the 10,000 rebound club this year and pass Dikembe Mutombo for tenth all time in defensive rebounds--and he stands out even more. Only Charles Barkley has recorded at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 500 three pointers made in an NBA career. Dirk is primed to top him in each category while having made 1,000 more threes.

Rank Player Rebounds Projected Total
30 Ben Wallace 10482
31 Dave Cowens* 10444
32 Bill Laimbeer 10400
33 Otis Thorpe 10370
34 Red Kerr 10092
35 Shawn Marion 9899
36 Dwight Howard 9883
37 Bob Lanier* 9698
38 Sam Lacey 9687
39 Dave DeBusschere* 9618
40 Dirk Nowitzki 9594
70 games (5.75) 402.5 9996.5
80 games (5.75) 460 10054

Including Barkley, sixteen players have recorded 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds for their careers before this season. Only five players have recorded as many points with at least 1,500 three pointers made, a milestone Dirk needs less than 30 long range bombs to reach. Among those players, only Bryant has scored more points.

In addition, Dirk is projected to become the no. 10 all time in defensive rebounding, no. 15 in minutes, no. 13 in field goals made and no. 8 in free throws made.

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