Carmelo Anthony is a walking bucket.
One of the most complete three level bucket getters in the history of the game, Anthony will forever go down as one of the most gifted scorers the NBA has ever seen. On either block, at the top of the key, from the elbows, on the wing ... he could pull tricks out of his bag and counters to those tricks from essentially every spot on the floor.
And when he had it cooking, there wasn't anyone - not LeBron James, not Kobe Bryant, not anyone - that Melo couldn't hang with.
Anthony's finest hour on the NBA hardwood is being celebrated tonight at 8 p.m. ET as part of the #NBATogetherLive Classic Games series streaming on Twitter. On Jan. 24, 2014 Anthony poured in 62 points on the Charlotte Bobcats and could have gone for even more as he had 56 through the end of three quarters in a game the New York Knicks won by 29 points.
With Anthony's scorching hot career performance top of mind, here are three stats that help paint a picture of Melo's peak dominance.
14 - Consecutive 20 PPG seasons to start career
From the moment he stepped foot in the league, Anthony could get buckets with the best of them.
In fact, he averaged over 20 points per game each of his first 14 seasons in the NBA. Care to guess how many players can make that claim?
You can count them on one hand.
Michael Jordan. LeBron James. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Shaquille O'Neal. Carmelo Anthony.
57% - Clutch FG percentage in 2008-09
Final five minutes. Score within five. Clutch time.
Long regarded as one of the league's best crunch-time assassins, the numbers support the notion that at his best, Anthony was worthy of that reputation.
The best he ever shot from the field in clutch-time situations was 57% in 2008-09 with the Denver Nuggets when he led them to the Conference Finals.
If you compare that to the best of some of his other contemporaries, it becomes strikingly clear that peak Melo could go toe-to-toe with anyone under the most pressure-packed of situations. In fact, if you take every single player that's won a scoring title within the last two decades and then take their best season in terms of clutch-time efficiency, Anthony outranks all of them.
So yeah ... not bad!
42 - Players to make playoffs each of 1st 10 seasons
Let's talk about the playoffs.
But no... not in the direction that you probably think we're heading.
While some critiques about early exits are certainly valid, I can't help but get the feeling that Anthony's perception is unfairly skewed thanks in part to a lack of deep runs and some struggles over the last several years.
But did you know that Anthony made the playoffs in each of his first 10 years, something that can be said of only 42 players in NBA history?
Were it not for one full year playing alonside Allen Iverson, he also would have been the leading scorer on all10 of those teams. Know how many other players can make that claim?
Michael Jordan and Dolph Schayes.
Not until over a decade into his career did one of Anthony's teams head to the lottery. Say what you want about the lack of extended playoff runs, there's something to be said for ALWAYS having your team in the playoffs as THE guy. There aren't many players who guarantee a top-eight finish and while he certainly had help, Melo deserves all the credit in the world as a bonafide floor raising superstar.
1 - First-place MVP vote in 2012-13
Anthony finished third in MVP voting in the 2012-13 season behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
But did you know that Anthony was the only player other than James to receive a first-place vote? Anthony earned one and in the process stopped James from becoming the first unanimous MVP in league history, a distinction that would later go to Stephen Curry three years later.
It's hard to overstate how great Melo was that season. Not only did he claim his one and only scoring title, he carried the Knicks to 54 wins and the second-best record in the Eastern Conference despite the injury to Amar'e Stoudemire, which limited him to 29 games and zero starts. The team's second leading scorer was J.R. Smith, who, like Stoudemire, did not start in any game the entire season.
It's a testament to Anthony that in what was perhaps the most dominant season of LeBron's career, he was good enough to stand in the way of The King making history.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.