Denver Nuggets guard Andre Iguodala has said three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant might someday retire as the NBA's all-time scorer.
Durant would have to pass Wilt Chamberlain (31,419), Michael Jordan (32,292), Karl Malone (36,928) and career leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) to reach the scoring summit.
Durant smiles and shakes his head at the mere thought.
“I don't know if I would say I'll be the best scorer ever to play the game,” Durant said, “but if I keep working, you never know.”
Durant and the Thunder meet Iguodala and the Nuggets on at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
When Iguodala first suggested this scoring scenario two years ago, “people looked at me like I was crazy, but they're starting to see some life in it.”
Iguodala repeated his projection during the Olympic Games last summer in London.
“He may be the all-time leading scorer in NBA history when he's done playing, just because he scores so easily,” Iguodala said of Durant, his Olympic teammate. “He can average 30 a game for the next 10 years and even after that, when he's 34, 35, 36, he can still get 15 or 20 a game and become a stand-still 3-point shooter.
“Offensively, there's really no ceiling for him and he doesn't even need a go-to move because scoring is so easy for him. It's incredible.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks cringed at the use of the word “easy.” Iguodala meant it as a compliment, but it also could imply Durant doesn't work hard to score despite facing multiple defensive tactics.
“The thing I love about him is he works so hard for everything that he has been able to accomplish so far in the short career,” Brooks said. “He is not given anything and he has earned it.”
How would Durant analyze Durant?
“The best part about my game when I sit back and analyze it is I can play a lot of different ways,” Durant said. “I'm not a guy who always needs to run isolation or post up to get an easy point. I play with my teammates, (score) in transition, get it off rebounds, use pick-and-rolls. I can play it different ways.
“I wouldn't say it's ‘easy' because I consume a lot of energy trying to score, but my teammates make it easier for me by going out there and being aggressive and making plays for me. Coach does a great job drawing up plays for me.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant passed 30,000 career points earlier this season and stood at 30,588 entering Tuesday night's game against Milwaukee.
Durant is 24 years old, is in his sixth season and enters the Denver game with 11,078 career points, a total Bryant reached in his eighth season.
Bryant also was on Team USA and last August said he doesn't believe Durant fully realizes he might someday become the game's top scorer.
“No,” said a chuckling Bryant, “and I'm damn sure not going to say it.”
Abdul-Jabbar played 20 seasons (1969-89), retired at age 41 and had a career scoring average of 24.6. Durant is in his sixth season and has a career scoring average of 26.5.
Now 65, Abdul-Jabbar attended the Thunder's 102-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night at US Airways Center and smiled when asked if he thought Durant might someday catch him.
“I think he certainly has the talent,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “It all depends on if he stays healthy and is the focus of the offense, because he can score from anywhere on the court.”
Abdul-Jabbar also noted Durant's overall progress each season.
“He's not just in it to put up numbers,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He wants to win and understands what the game's about. That always makes me feel better.”
Everyone agrees Durant has a long ways to go to catch Abdul-Jabbar, who led the NBA in scoring his first three seasons, but never thereafter.
“Obviously, Kevin's off to a good start,” Thunder teammate Nick Collison said. “He's got all the tools. There's never been a player like him with his size and his ability to handle the ball and play on the perimeter, and he's better posting the ball now. He's got to stay healthy and play a long time, but if there's a current guy who's got a shot, he'd be it, for sure.”
Point guard Russell Westbrook didn't hesitate when asked if Durant could finish at No. 1.
“Oh, he definitely has the ability to be able to do that,” said Westbrook, who also is 24 and has collected 6,772 career points himself. “He (Durant) works hard. He works on his game.
“Plus, he's 7-foot (tall) as it is, which doesn't make it any easier for a defender.”
Thunder vs. Nuggets
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 416, U-Verse 754/HD 1754)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* Much like the Thunder, Denver's starters have been healthy all season and have just four missed starts.
* One of the league's top defenders, Kenneth Faried is averaging a double-double in just 29.8 minutes per game.
*The Nuggets are in the midst of playing 15 of 18 at home. OKC and Denver will meet again Sunday in Denver.