Some of the best games come from the NBA playoffs. The stakes are bigger. The games mean more. In these situations, it’s winning or go home, which prompts the best performance from many players that make the tournament. Over the years, we have seen MVP-caliber players carry their sensational regular season over into the playoffs.
For some of these players, making the playoffs is a yearly ritual. They have padded their stats as first-round qualifiers to continue adding to their total from making repeated NBA Finals appearances. Either way, some of the best players are on this list, which is why they are the ones leading all active players in playoff points.
10. Carmelo Anthony – 1,840
In Anthony’s early years, making the playoffs was a yearly routine. He helped guide the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs in each season from 2004 to 2010. The Nuggets made it as far as the Western Conference Finals in 2009. That season, Anthony dropped 41 points against the Dallas Mavericks in the second round and then 39 points in the opening round of the conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. The following season, he scored 42 points in the opening round against the Utah Jazz, a total that he matched while as a member of the New York Knicks.
Anthony’s number should be higher, but he missed the playoffs from 2014 to 2017 as a member of the Knicks. He returned for a brief stint with the Thunder and played with the Trail Blazers last season, showing vintage Melo with 27 points in the team’s final game of the first round. At 36 years old, watching Anthony go for 40 points is long gone, but he remains a top-10 playoff icon.
9. Dwight Howard – 1,853
Howard did most of his damage while with the Orlando Magic. Howard led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009 when he was a clear No. 1 option. His career-high came in his final season with the Magic, when he scored 46 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks in 2011. Howard’s offensive production dipped when he played with Kobe Bryant for one season in 2012 before returning to his original self with the Houston Rockets.
Since 2017, Howard hasn’t been seeing as the traditional scoring big. He was regulated to a role player with the Hawks and then was primarily used as a defensive stopper for the Lakers on route to their championship season. His best game in nearly four years was when he scored 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets in the conference finals. Now with Philly, Howard remains a bench player but is likely going to be due to at least one game where he pops off.
8. Chris Paul – 2,282
Who can forget Paul’s 41 points in the Game 5 sealer against the Utah Jazz in 2018? What about his 35 points in his first playoff appearance with New Orleans? We could talk about his triple-double in last year’s Game 7 loss to the Rockets in what was a miraculous playoff series for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Paul has done just about everything in the playoffs except make the NBA Finals. The Phoenix Suns are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. He will look to build his resume in 2021 and potentially take his fifth franchise to the second round or better.