Where does Carmelo Anthony rank among the NBA's greatest players?
Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony achieved another major milestone on Tuesday, Feb. 9, when he passed Oscar Robertson to become the 12th leading scorer in NBA history.
The 10-time All-Star couldn’t help but smile afterwards when asked about the accomplishment. "I try to play it cool sometimes," Anthony said. "I try to sit back and reflect on these moments, take these moments in … but The Big O, that’s big."
It certainly is. Robertson was an NBA champion and first-ballot Hall of Famer who is considered by many to among the 10 best players of all time. Melo may not be his equal, but the fact the two players are being mentioned in the same breath is a testament to Anthony's talent and perseverance.
Let's dip into Anthony’s metrics to see where he ranks among basketball’s elite right now, and where he could rank once he finally hangs up his size 14 Jordan’s.
Carmelo Anthony Career Stats and Rankings
Points Per Game
Free Throws Made
Anthony has scored 26,784 points in 18 seasons, and is just 163 points shy of surpassing Hakeem Olajuwon to move into 11th place on the all-time scoring list. Assuming he continues to average 13.5 points per game, he should reach that mark in another 12 games.
Next up on the list is Houston Rockets legend Elvin Hayes, who is 529 points ahead of Anthony. Melo will need to play another 39 games at his current rate to surpass "The Big E." It’s another achievable milestone, should Anthony remain healthy and productive.
The big question is what will happen beyond this season. Anthony came close to retiring in 2019 after being traded by the Houston Rockets and waived by the Bulls, and will be a free agent at the end of the year. At 36, he could join a contender on a one-year deal, but it’s hard to imagine him continuing to be a high-volume scorer. It’s likely as well that Melo will be bumped from his perch soon after retirement by Kevin Durant and James Harden, both of whom are younger and more prolific.
Free Throws Made
Like most top scorers, Anthony has always had an ability to get to the line. The six-time All-NBA honoree averaged 7.9 free-throw attempts per game in his first nine seasons, and ranked in the top 10 in free-throw attempts every year from 2010-14.
Melo presently ranks 18th in career free throws made, and is on pace to knock former two-time MVP Bob Pettit out of the 17th spot in another 27 games.
Anthony’s name generally doesn’t come up in the conversation about the game’s greatest glass cleaners, but the Syracuse product ranks 90th overall in career rebounds. That’s well ahead of noted boardsmen like Kevin McHale, Alonzo Mourning, and Spencer Haywood.
If Anthony continues to average 3.5 rebounds per game, he should be able to move up another 10 spots in just 66 games.
Say what you will about Anthony, but the high-scoring forward has been an absolute workhorse over the course of his career. Melo ranks 31st overall in minutes played, and is second only to LeBron James among active players.
Assuming he stays healthy and continues to average 25 minutes per game, Anthony should leapfrog Bill Russell, Pau Gasol, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jason Terry in another 55 games to slide into the top 25.
It’s no secret that Anthony used to pound the air out of the ball earlier in his career, so it should come as no surprise that he ranks 11th all-time in career usage percentage.
Although this stat is generally viewed negatively in today’s game, it’s worth noting that it was once a sure-fire way of separating the alphas from the omegas. That’s why Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook, and Kobe Bryant all rank in the top three, and LeBron James is sixth.
Could Anthony have done a better job of setting up teammates in Denver and New York? Absolutely, but his high usage percentage points to the fact that he was undisputedly the best player on his team and the one guy you wanted to take the last shot with the clock winding down.
We can safely agree that no one has ever rocked a hoodie as well as Melo.
Anthony has played in the NBA’s mid-season classic 10 times, placing him ahead of fellow luminaries like Gary Payton, Dominique Wilkins, and Steve Nash. However, he still ranks behind 34 other players, and it’s hard to imagine his total increasing given the downward trajectory of his career.
Win shares are an estimate of the number of victories contributed by a player. The higher the win share, the more integral the player in impacting his team’s success. That’s why proven winners like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and LeBron James occupy the top three spots.
You know who isn’t in the top 3? Carmelo Anthony. Melo ranks 81st overall, which suggests that a lot of the other numbers he put up in his career were ultimately empty. As talented as Anthony is, it isn’t a coincidence that he’s only played in 77 playoff games in 18 years, and was bounced from the first round six times in seven seasons in Denver.
When it comes to international accolades, Anthony is without peer. The Brooklyn native is a four-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist who is Team USA’s all-time leader in (deep breath) games played, points, field goals made, field goals attempted, rebounds, three-point field goals attempted, free throws made, and free throws attempted.
Anthony’s ability to hit international threes and mix it up inside against smaller defenders made him a nightmare to guard, and led to him being named USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2006 and Co-Male Athlete of the Year (along with Kevin Durant) in 2016.