Here are 5 major NBA Finals career milestones LeBron James could reach in upcoming series

Omar Guerrero
8 Min Read

LeBron James will be entering his 10th NBA Finals when the championship series begins this Wednesday.

In his 17 years in the league, James has been moving up the ladder in career records both in the regular season and playoffs, leaping over some of the league’s most prestigious players almost annually.

When he steps on the court for this year’s Finals against the Miami Heat, he will have the opportunity to continue his epic rise to the top of the NBA’s leaderboard in the Finals.

James already leads the league in career defensive rebounds in the Finals by a wide margin with 395 boards to Tim Duncan’s 327. But even with his statistical dominance in the postseason, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar is still climbing his way up in several all-time Finals stats.

Barring an injury that will keep him from playing in the 2020 NBA Finals, expect the 35-year-old forward to add to his lofty achievements on the league’s biggest stage.

1. Games Played

James has played in 49 Finals games and is currently ranked seventh overall in league annals. Since it takes a minimum of four games before a champion is crowned, James will have at least 53 games under his belt by season’s end.

This means that he is assured of overtaking Lakers alum Magic Johnson (50) and retired Boston Celtics forward Tom Heinsohn (52) for fifth place.

If the series extends to six games, he’ll tie Jerry West (55) for fourth place, but a seven-game series will knot him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (56) who sits comfortably in third place.

2. Field Goals Made

With 520 field goals made in his Finals career, James is third on the all-time Finals list.

During the 2020 postseason, he is averaging 9.7 field goals a game. If the series ends up being a sweep by either the Lakers or Heat, based on James’ average, he will add approximately 39 field goals more to his ledger.

Add that to James’ 520 and he’ll have at least 559 field goals made in his Finals career. This will catapult him past Abdul-Jabbar, who has 544 field goals in the Finals.

In first place is West with 612 field goals. The four-time MVP will have to shoot the lights out in a four-game series and miraculously make an average of 23 baskets a game to catch up to the Logo’s total.

However, a more realistic scenario would be a seven-game series in which he averages at least 13.3 field goals a game in the Finals to take sole possession of West’s spot. This should be enough to give him 613 field goals for his Finals career, not impossible and highly probable depending on how the series goes and how well James performs.

3. Free Throws Made

Though he’s not known for his free-throw shooting prowess, James has taken enough trips to the line to be in the top 10 in free throws made in the Finals. His 257 made free throws ranks seventh all time, just one behind Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan (258) and two behind Hall of Famer George Mikan (259).

James will easily move ahead of Jordan and Mikan in Game 1 of the Finals provided that he’s aggressive enough to get calls in his favor when attacking the basket. In the 2020 postseason, James is averaging 5.3 free throws made per game.

In four games, James could potentially tie or surpass the 277 free throws that Elgin Baylor had amassed in his career, giving the St. Vincent-St. Mary High School alum the fourth spot on the list. Should the series go five, six or seven games, he could take over third place from Johnson (284).

Jerry West (first with 455 free throws) and Bill Russell (second with 321) are too far ahead for James to catch this year.

4. Total Rebounds

Abdul-Jabbar’s fourth-place standing in total rebounds (502) will be in jeopardy almost as soon as James steps on the court for his 10th Finals appearance.

James (490) could tie or surpass Abdul-Jabbar’s total with a monster performance on the boards in the first game of the series.

He already has three games this postseason in which he has grabbed more than 13 rebounds, so a strong board game from the 16-time All-Star in Game 1 is not that difficult to imagine.

If he doesn’t take the fourth position from Abdul-Jabbar by the first game, he will almost assuredly take it in Game 2.

Not surprisingly, James leads the Lakers in rebounds in the 2020 playoffs with an average of 10.3 caroms a night.

To take third place from Elgin Baylor will be a tall order, though. Baylor’s 603 total rebounds will require James to play in more Finals games in the future.

5. Blocks

The singular greatest play from the 2016 Finals is arguably James’ chase-down block on Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of that series. That play showed just how talented and determined James is in making a defensive play that can turn a game or series around.

It’s no wonder that the Lakers forward is among the leading shot blockers in Finals history with 43 swats in his career. He is tied with former Boston Celtics star Kevin McHale for sixth all time.

With a single block in the series, James will leave McHale behind and take sole possession of sixth place. The three-time Finals MVP is averaging 1.0 block a game this postseason.

To move one spot ahead will be quite a tall order for James as he needs to step up his defensive game to overthrow McHale’s former Celtics running mate Robert Parish (51) from his fifth-place standing.

If the Finals ends in four games, James will need to average two blocks per contest to tie Parish. A six-game series gives him a better chance at sealing the deal since all he has to do is average a little more than 1.3 swats per game to match Parish’s total.

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Omar is a former writer for King James Gospel. The very first team he rooted for was the Showtime Lakers and his favorite player back then was James Worthy. Seeing the Purple and Gold win back-to-back championships in the '80s made him a basketball junkie for life. He has witnessed and celebrated every Lakers championship since then and is now looking forward to a new era of basketball in Tinseltown led by LeBron James.