Milestone makers for the 2019-2020 season
(The Freeman) - October 23, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —The new NBA season is here and two games are on tap today.  Defending champions Toronto Raptors will try to prove doubters wrong when they battle the New Orleans Pelicans at 8am.  But the Pels will be missing their top draw in Zion Williamson as he will be out for at least 6 weeks because of some knee issues.  At 10:30, let’s see who draws first blood in Battle Los Angeles.

Aside from the games, here are the league history makers to watch:

GREGG POPOVICH – The San Antonio Spurs will have the same coach for the 24th consecutive season.  Calling the shots for the Spurs since December 1996, Coach Pop becomes the longest tenured head coach in NBA history and in any other pro sports in the US.  He will break a tie with Jerry Sloan who handled the Utah Jazz for 23 straight seasons.  Since the Popovich era, all the other NBA teams had at least three coaching changes with one as many as 14.  Coach Pop led the Spurs to 22 consecutive playoff appearances and 5 NBA titles, was a 3-time NBA Coach of the Year and a 4-time NBA All-Star head coach.

VINCE CARTER – At 42-years old, VC will be the last active player drafted from the 1990s.  Picked #5 by Toronto in 1998, he will have the NBA record of playing for 22 seasons.  He will be 43 by January 2020 and if he’ll healthy by then, he will be the first player ever to play 4 decades in the NBA.  This will be VC’s last season and it would have been nice seeing him play with the Raptors, the place where “Vinsanity” and “Half-man, Half-amazing” were born.  Other league ironmen are Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis who all played 21 seasons while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant had 20 seasons.  Willis was 44-years old when he last played with Dallas.

JAMES HARDEN – With a scoring average of 36.1 points per game last season, The Beard won his second straight league scoring title.  He can possibly win his third consecutive scoring plum with a little help from his new teammate who is also chasing his own milestone.  If Harden does this, he becomes the 8th player to do so behind Garnett, Michael Jordan, George Gervin, Bob McAdoo, Neil Johnston and George Mikan.  Jordan had 7 consecutive league scoring titles (1986-1987 to 1992-1993) as well as Wilt Chamberlain (1959-1960 to 1965-1966).

RUSSELL WESTBROOK – During the 2016-2017 season, Westbrook set the NBA record for the most triple-doubles with 42.  He led the league in assists the past two seasons and needs just one triple-double to break a tie (138) with Magic Johnson for solo second in the NBA’s all-time triple-double leaders.  Oscar Robertson leads the pack with a career 181 tri-dubs.  Next to Magic and Westbrook’s 138 is Jason Kidd with 107 and LeBron James with 81.

LEBRON JAMES – Entering his 17th season, he needs 1,101 points to overtake Kobe at 3rd on the all-time scoring list, where he sits 4th with 32,543 points.  Basing on his career scoring average of 27.2 points per game, he needs 41 games to top KB’s 33,643 points.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is ahead with 38,387 points followed by Karl Malone with 36,928.  To note, the NBA’s top 4 scoring elite all come from the LA Lakers.

STEPHEN CURRY – Someone is hot on the trail of two HOFers.  Curry is chasing Ray Allen (2,973) and Reggie Miller (2,560) for the most 3-points made in the NBA.  With his average of 4.8 3-pointers made last season, he needs 16 games to overtake Miller at number 2.  With a minimum of 250 3s made in a season, younger brother Seth has a slim lead (43.9%) over Steph (43.6%) in the highest 3-point field goal percentage among active players.  Completing the top five are Kyle Korver (42.9%), Joe Harris (42.7%) and Klay Thompson (41.9%).

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