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Cleared To Launch?

When examining a player like Carmelo Anthony, it brings up so many different reactions and emotions. For many basketball fans, they remember Carmelo as a scoring machine leading Syracuse to a national championship, a scoring champion, a man that early in he is career took Kobe’s Los Angeles Lakers to 6 games in the Western Conference Finals. But that was the distant past, and if last season was any indication of Carmelo’s skills, it is clear he is no longer “that guy”. The 2017-18 season was Anthony’s worst year of his long and impressive career. He had all-time lows in points (16.2), field goal percentage (40.4%), and assists (1.3). While it is true that it is expected his defensive numbers would take a dip as an older player still giving extended minutes, the entire NBA world assumed he would still be a pivotal part to OKC’s success and run in the West.

In reality, Carmelo was a pivotal piece of many of the issues that afflicted the Thunder. His defense was abysmal this season. OKC always regularly placed Carmelo on the weakest defensive assignment, and opposing offenses would purposely attack him for easy buckets. Another major issue with Carmelo was his lack of effectiveness on the offensive end. It’s widely known that Carmelo has significant offensive talent, but in OKC he was essentially another ball dominant player stagnating an already ineffective OKC offense. It appeared that whenever he received the ball, his teammates knew that he was going to take the shot. While this style is not ideal, it would be okay if he was at least hitting looks, but as previously mentioned his field goal percentage and overall efficiency significantly decreased this season.

Yet the one aspect that is most concerning is that Carmelo laughed off the possibility of coming off the bench last season. In reality, with OKC having one of the weakest benches in the league, it would have been great for Carmelo to come off the bench and give the Thunder an offensive push whenever Paul George or Russell Westbrook came off the floor. The entire NBA world even saw stretches during the first round series against the Utah Jazz where the Thunder would play significantly better with Carmelo on the bench. Am I trying to insinuate that Carmelo can no longer play, or that him joining the Rockets will make that team worse? No. All I am saying is that if Carmelo wants to be a benefit for this Houston team, he has to be able to accept the role that D’Antoni assigns to him.

Whether it is a 4th option behind James Harden, Chris Paul, and Eric Gordon, or if he has to come off the bench, he will need to graciously accept his role. He is not the same player he once was, but if utilized properly he can still make the Rockets a stronger championship contender. Especially with the loss of Trevor Ariza, Houston is going to need someone to fill that offensive void. While it is not a perfect fit, Carmelo could play a pivotal role in Houston’s next run to win a championship in 2019. Melo is still able to knock down shots, and has shown time and time again to perform in high pressure situations. Plus, he will be able to give Houston a reliable shooter from mid-range, which they lacked this season.

Ultimately, it is going to be up to Carmelo as to whether his NBA Career will end with a successful run in the playoffs, or unceremoniously on multiple teams (i.e Shaquille O’Neal & Allen Iverson) until he is forced to retire.

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