LeBron's journey to the NBA scoring record in shot charts

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Jan. 31.

With 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter of Tuesday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James sank a 21-foot fadeaway jumper, one of the most historic field goals. As that shot fell through the goal, the 38-year-old superstar surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the league's all-time leading scorer.

It's a remarkable feat brought to you by an incredible blend of scoring talent and sustainability that we haven't seen in pro basketball since Abdul-Jabbar, who was one of the league's best players for nearly two decades.

James was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft, and over his 20 seasons in the NBA, he has both improved and evolved as a scorer, and his shot charts tell the story of how the teenager who came into the league without a reliable jump shot will end up scoring more points than anyone who has ever set foot on an NBA court.

2003-04: Rookie of the Year

Despite winning honors as the league's best rookie in 2003-04 while averaging nearly 21 points per game, James struggled to blend scoring volume with scoring efficiency.

Of the 46 players who attempted at least 1,000 field goals that year, James ranked 41st in effective field goal percentage.

His rookie year shot chart reveals a young player who was a below-average jump shooter and pedestrian in the paint. It does not portend passing Abdul-Jabbar.