NBA Milestones Within Reach
Ray Allen, Seattle SuperSonics
He's hardly a chucker (Allen boasts a career mark of 40 percent from behind the arc), but Allen shot a career-high 653 three-point attempts last season. If he tallies 604 in 2006-07, he'll join Reggie Miller (who also shot 40 percent in his career) as the only players to shoot more than 5,000 NBA threes. Should Allen remain healthy for the foreseeable future, Miller's all-time leading mark of 6,486 career attempts is certainly passable for the 31-year-old guard.
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
Easily the best all-around player of his generation, Garnett has long been among the league's rebounding leaders, but his place on the all-time defensive rebounding list may surprise you. With 585 defensive rebounds in '06-07, KG will pass Larry Bird, David Robinson, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Kevin Willis and (likely) Shaquille O'Neal for 12th place all-time. Garnett has averaged 836 defensive boards over the last three seasons, so he should be up to the task.
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
As the NBA continues to crack down on hand-checking, this Sixers waterbug should be ratcheting up the all-time free-throw list before he calls it a day. If he hits 554 free throws this season, he'll pass Hakeem Olajuwon (5,423) and move into 16th place all-time. Considering the Answer hit 675 charity shots last year, that shouldn't prove too tough a task. Next up? Lakers legend Elgin Baylor, with 5,763. Even as AI enters his 30s, his free-throw-attempts-per-game average has gone up (8.9, 9.9, 10.7) for three straight seasons.
Eddie Jones, Memphis Grizzlies
In spite of his all-around gifts, Memphis' wing scorer has always done his damage quietly, a trait that often has left Jones overlooked when the conversation turns to the NBA's top shooting guards. Though he entered the league as a slasher, Jones is only 125 three-point makes away from passing Glen Rice (whom he was once traded for) and moving into fourth-place on the NBA's all-time three-point field goal list. Because Jones' threes-per-game average has remained steady over the course of his career (last year's mark of 1.8 was also his average in '00, '02 and '05), you can just about pencil him in for Rice's mark.
Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
Kidd has led the NBA in assists per game five times in his career, and with 33 more assists in '06-07 (he had 672 last season) he'll move past Rod Strickland for seventh on the NBA's all-time list. He'll still fall short of fellow Bay Area native Gary Payton, who has 8,765 career assists and is likely to add about 250 more this season. It should be noted, though, that Payton has the luxury of having been in the NBA for four more seasons than Kidd, and Jason's 9.2 career assists per game trumps Payton's 6.9 career mark.
Dikembe Mutombo, Houston Rockets
Already safely ensconced in third place on the NBA's all-time list (Shaquille O'Neal, with 2,377 blocks, and Alonzo Mourning, with 2,136, are the next active players on the list), Mutombo needs 35 more rejections to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second place. Though Mutombo's career accomplishments are Hall of Fame-worthy, it should be noted that blocks were not kept as an official statistic by the NBA for the first four seasons of Kareem's career, and he averaged 3.5 a game in the four seasons after that. One can only wonder what the list might show had the stat been kept earlier; defensive giants such as Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain didn't notch a single official rejection in their storied NBA careers.
Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat
Shaq is slowing down a bit as he nears the end of his career, but he still has a solid chance to pass Dominique Wilkins and vault into the ninth spot for all-time field goals made. He'll need 155 makes in '06-07 to pass the Human Highlight Reel, and Shaq netted 480 in an injury-plagued campaign last season. The next milestone? Celtics workhorse John Havlicek converted 10,513 career field-goals.
Gary Payton, Miami Heat
The Glove won't scare anyone with his less-than chiseled physique, but his skinny frame has allowed him to act as a minutes sponge for five teams over his 16-year career. If he plays 2,008 minutes in '06-07 (he was on the court for 2,305 minutes last season), he'll move up to sixth on the NBA's list of all-time minutes played, leaving him within shouting distance of John Stockton (47,764) and Wilt Chamberlain (47,859) for fifth and fourth place, respectively.
Clifford Robinson, New Jersey Nets
The lanky Nets forward turns 40 in December, and if he plays twice that many games this season, he'll pass Reggie Miller (1,389) for sixth place on the NBA's list of career games played. What's more impressive is Robinson's durability: Over his 17-year NBA career, he's played in 1,330 of a possible 1,362 games, in addition to 140 total playoff contests.
Antoine Walker, Miami Heat
Walker ranks 68th on the NBA's all-time list, but another year of his typical 900 shot attempts should vault him up about 13 spots, passing Lenny Wilkens and a host of others along the way. Just behind Wilkens is World B. Free, who was known in his 13 seasons with the 76ers, Clippers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Rockets to fire at will from just about any spot on the court. The fact that Walker will pass him in his 11th season speaks volumes as to Walker's, ahem, willingness to put the ball up.