Carmelo Anthony recently moved up to 10th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. That leads to the natural question, how far can he move up before he eventually calls it a career?
Anthony is 36 years old. How many more years does he have left? That remains to be seen, but he is still a very effective offensive player. Anthony is currently 75 points behind ninth place (Moses Malone), 1,262 points behind eighth place (Shaquille O'Neal) and 4,085 points behind seventh place (Wilt Chamberlain).
Let's take a look at a few different scenarios.
RETIRES AT AGE 40
If Carmelo Anthony plays past his 40th birthday (2023-24 season) and then retires, he will play three more full season beyond this year. There are 82 games in a season, but let's take a conservative approach and say he averages 72 games played each year. Currently, Melo averages 13.7 points per game. Let's assume he keeps that up for the final six games of the regular season this year and that takes a slight dip to 12 points per game over the next three seasons. At 12 points per game in 72 games in each of three seasons, along with 13.7 points over the next six games this year, that is another 2,674 points. His total as of May 5, 2021 was 27,334. Add those two together and Melo would have a career total of 30,008 points. In that scenario, Melo would pass Moses Malone and Shaquille O'Neal to claim 8th place all time.
SIX MORE SEASONS
Few players play significantly beyond age 40, but some have. If Carmelo plays six more seasons, he would have to average at least 9.5 points per game while playing at least 72 games in order to pass Wilt for seventh place on the list. If Melo averages 10 points per game over those six seasons while averaging 72 games, or plays in 74 games each season while scoring 9.5 points per game, Anthony would pass Dirk Nowitzki for sixth place. Carmelo would need to average at least 11.3 points per game over six seasons and play at least 72 each year to pass Michael Jordan for 5th on the all-time scoring list.
BECOMES OLDEST PLAYER TO PLAY IN A GAME IN NBA HISTORY
Going much further than Jordan will be extremely difficult. The oldest player to play in an NBA game was just less than 46 years of age. That was Nat Hickey, who was 45 years and 363 days old in 1948. If Carmelo Anthony makes history and plays until he is 46 years old, that would mean he plays for another 10 season after this one through the 2030-31 campaign. In order to pass Kobe Bryant for 4th place, Anthony would need to average 8.7 points per game over those 10 seasons while playing at least 72 games per year. In order to pass Karl Malone, who is currently in 2nd place but would likely be 3rd at that time, Anthony would have to average 13.3 points per game while playing at least 72 games per season over 10 years.
Note: LeBron James is currently 3rd all-time. He is so far ahead of Melo and averaging nearly double the points per game. Outside of James retiring in the next year or two and Anthony playing for a decade beyond that, Melo will not pass James. James could pass Malone for 2nd place next season.
As Carmelo Anthony continues to move up the scoring list, the most likely ceiling for him is eighth place with an outside shot at getting to sixth. It will depend on how many more seasons he wishes to play, which will likely be determined by how his body holds up over the next few years.