How far can Dirk Nowitzki climb up the all-time scoring list?

Ralph Orlowski

How much further can Nowitzki move up the NBA's all-time career scoring list?

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki passed Oscar Robertson on the NBA's all-time scoring list on Tuesday night, and his 26,714 career points put the big man in position to move even further up the top-10 list.

Nowitzki is in the final year of his current contract, but is still mighty productive at 35 years old. He could even be sniffing the top-5 by the end of his career.

But what must Dirk do to have a shot at surpassing Wilt Chamberlain, who sits in the fifth spot behind Kobe Bryant?

Sunday Shootaround

Nowitzki is 232 points behind Hakeem Olajuwon's 26,946 points that currently rank ninth in NBA history. If Nowitzki continues this year's scoring average of 21.6 points per game, he would surpass The Dream about 11 games from now, and with three games left this season, that puts him on track to move into ninth place very early next year.

The German is 599 points behind Elvin Hayes in eighth place, meaning at his career scoring pace of 22.5 points per game, he could surpass Hayes in 27 games. He could then pass Moses Malone in 31 games and Shaquille O'Neal in 84 games. So if Nowitzki plays productively more than one more full season, moving into sixth place is quite possible.

There's quite a gap between O'Neal in sixth place and Chamberlain in fifth.

Nowitzki would have to score at least 20 points per game and play three full seasons to move into the top 5 and reach Chamberlain's 31,419 career points. If there are three productive seasons left in Nowitzki's tenure, overcoming the 4,705-point difference from Chamberlain makes a top-5 finish within reach, but health would obviously be the biggest issue.

Player Points Dirk's deficit
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387 11,673
2. Karl Malone 36,928 10,214
3. Michael Jordan 32,292 5,578
4. Kobe Bryant 31,700 4,986
5. Wilt Chamberlain 31,419 4,705
6. Shaquille O'Neal 28,596 1,882
7. Moses Malone 27,409 695
8. Elvin Hayes 27,313 599
9. Hakeem Olajuwon 26,946 232
10. Dirk Nowitzki 26,714 --

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