In the history of the NBA, more than 250 players have scored at least 10,000 points during their NBA careers. This year, there was a handful of players who were set to join that elite club but unfortunately, the outbreak of the coronavirus caused the suspension of the NBA’s 2019-20 season.
Let’s take a look at the players whose march to the 10K plateau was also paused by the COVID-19 pandemic:
Jimmy Butler 9,823 points
Before Jimmy Butler was doing nothing except drinking wine and working out, he was 177 points away from scoring his 10,000th NBA point. Jimmy Buckets came to the Heat last summer from the Minnesota Timberwolves and he quickly made an impact in South Beach. After missing the playoffs during the 2018-19 season, Miami was in 4th place in the Eastern Conference when play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As for Butler, he was averaging 20.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game in 54 games played during the 2019-20 season. Based on his season scoring average, Butler was nine games away from hitting the 10K milestone and with Miami having 17 regular-season games left to play, he was a sure bet to make it to the elite club had this season not been suspended.
Jeff Teague 9,690 points
Jeff Teague returned to the team that originally drafted him. After starting the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 31-year old guard was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Allen Crabbe last January. Teague was originally the Hawks’ 19th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and he played for Atlanta from 2010-2016, earning an All-Star spot in 2015. He was traded to the Pacers in 2016 for George Hill before signing a three-year $57M deal with Minnesota in 2017.
Teague had an injury-plagued 2019 season where he played only 42 games and underwent ankle surgery in April 2019. He lost his starting job to rookie Jarrett Culver in November before being traded again earlier this year. Teague was averaging 7.7 points per game for the Hawks while backing up Trae Young. Teague was 310 points away from scoring his 10,000th NBA points but with his lack of opportunity in Atlanta, he would’ve needed around 41 more games to reach the plateau.
Gordon Hayward 9,682 points
2020 was a good season for Gordon Hayward. The former Butler superstar missed all but one game of the 2018 season after a horrific leg injury. He returned last season for the Celtics but wasn’t really in 100% shape yet. His 11.5 points scoring average and 25.9 minutes per game playing time last season were his lowest since his rookie year. This season, Hayward put up 17.3 points per game while grabbing a career-high 6.1 rebounds per contest. His 4.1 assists per game average was also his best since 2015.
With his confidence back, Hayward was a big part of the Boston Celtics’ success this season. The Celtics were the third seed in the Eastern Conference with their 43-21 record and they became the fourth team this season to clinch a playoff berth after the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Toronto Raptors. Meanwhile, Hayward was an estimated 18 games away from hitting his 10,000th NBA point based on his season scoring average and with Boston having 18 unplayed games this season, he would’ve joined the 10K points club at the end of the season.
Kawhi Leonard 9,620 points
Kawhi Leonard was having the time of his life. After he orchestrated a coup d’etat from San Antonio, he ended up North and led the Toronto Raptors to the 2019 NBA title while winning 2019 NBA Finals MVP honors. Then he signed a free-agent deal with the LA Clippers last summer and joined Paul George to form one of the most formidable duos in the league. The Clippers had a rough season but they were picking it up when the season was paused.
As for Kawhi, the Board Man was averaging 26.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game this season. The Clippers had the second-best record in the Western Conference behind their cross-town rival Lakers. Leonard was the 8th best scorer in the league and if he kept that pace, he would have been 14 games from hitting his 10,000th NBA point. That would have been peanuts for Leonard as the Clippers still had 18 games left to play in the regular season
Tyson Chandler 9,509 points
Tyson Chandler was one of the best defensive players in the league during his prime. He was the LA Clippers’ 2nd overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft and is a well-traveled NBA veteran who has achieved so much during his career. Chandler was a member of the Dallas Mavericks team which won the 2011 NBA championship and he was named as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He was also All-NBA third team in 2012 and an All-Star in 2013.
But at 37, his career is winding down and if there is one thing left to achieve, it is scoring 10,000 career points.
But Chandler’s minutes and production have gone down significantly over the years and he is only averaging 1.3 points per game this season for the Houston Rockets. Chandler has openly stated that he wants to retire as a Maverick. While that is possible, I think he will not be able to reach the 10k milestone anymore.
Isaiah Thomas 9,508 points
Another player who was nearing his 10,000th NBA point was the diminutive Isaiah Thomas. Life has been unfair to IT in recent years. After an All-Star season with the Boston Celtics where he was an unstoppable force, he got hurt and was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That started a downward spiral for the last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Thomas has played for the Lakers, Nuggets, and Wizards in the last three seasons.
This year, Thomas played 40 games for Washington and he averaged 12.2 points and 3.7 assists while earning a starting spot and playing an average of 23.1 minutes per game. Based on his current scoring average, Thomas was around 40 games from reaching the 10,000 mark and with John Wall expected to return to the Wizards next season, it’s probably going to take much longer for IT to reach that milestone. However, he’s only 31-years old and if he can stay healthy, he will hit that mark soon.