The underappreciated greatness of Carmelo Anthony
The Houston Rockets were just a game away from beating the almost-invincible Golden State Warriors in the conference finals last season. In a bid to topple the defending champs this time around, the team acquired the services of 10-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony, giving them a tested and proven scorer to take away some of James Harden and Chris Paul’s offensive workload.
Even so, many critics and fans take this acquisition as more of a risk rather than a necessity for the Rockets. At the age of 34, Anthony is certainly approaching the twilight of his career and his career-low numbers last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder are a testament to how players of that age naturally decline in terms of production. Except for that 2009 Denver Nuggets playoff run when he just went berserk against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals, Anthony never had postseason success with his teams.
But aside from his team-up with Russell Westbrook and Paul George last season, Melo did not really have an All-Star teammate who was at the peak of his career. The Hall of Famer Allen Iverson could make a case for that but the legendary point guard was already 31 years old when he joined Anthony in Denver and was marred with off-court issues and antics.
Amar’e Stoudemire is also an interesting case, but his most productive season with the New York Knicks was when Carmelo spent most of that season with Denver. He was traded to the Knicks midway through the season, but there was not enough preparation for that revamped Knicks team to mesh together in time for the playoffs.
Before he came to Oklahoma City, Anthony was always the main man on his team. He helped the Nuggets and the Knicks to the top of the standings, making it to the playoffs eleven times in his career. But despite his teams’ failure to go deep into the postseason, Melo’s achievements as a basketball player are at par with the league’s all-time greats.
Most notable of his career accomplishments was his historic breakthroughs as a member of Team USA. Here is a snippet of Melo’s record in the USA Basketball’s official website.
“In the U.S. Olympic men’s career record book, ranks first in games played (31), points (336), field goals made (113), field goals attempted (262), rebounds (125), 3-point field goals attempted (139), free throws made (53) and free throws attempted (71); and second in 3-point field goals made (57). “
He is also a three-time Olympic gold medalist, most for any male basketball player. In the 2012 version of the team that included Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant, Anthony averaged an impressive 16.3 points, good for second place in scoring behind Durant.
His NBA credentials do not pale in comparison. He won the scoring title in 2013, averaging an outstanding 28.7 points per game. He was selected in the All-NBA team six times and is also a ten-time All-Star.
But the most interesting fact here is that his coaches and teammates oppose the thought that Anthony is a bad teammate. Before he was traded to the Thunder, Anthony was voted “Best Teammate” on the Knicks team. Billy Donovan also had huge praises for Melo in his brief stint with the Thunder, per ESPN’s Royce Young.
“I think people have it really backwards,” Donovan said when asked why Adams has taken on such bigger offensive focus. “That’s the greatness, to me, of Carmelo Anthony. The reason why Steven Adams is doing what he’s doing is because of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.”
Meanwhile, Mike D’Antoni will be coaching Anthony again this season. In an interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick, D’Antoni believes that Anthony is a better fit with the Rockets than he was with the Knicks.
“Back then, there wasn’t even analytics. I was going by my gut, and he was going by (his) gut, and it’s just, you know, styles clash. And I think now, things have changed and everybody is playing the same way. I think it’s a lot better fit and I think we have a really good chance to be really good.”
Anthony is still a lethal scorer today, and there’s no doubt that he will increase his production this season. With point guard maestro Chris Paul and the playmaking of Harden, Carmelo Anthony will definitely get his touches and prove to everyone that he still has a lot left in the tank.