It has been a rough season for Carmelo Anthony. Despite accepting a role on the bench with the Houston Rockets, his tenure in the lone star state was still one to forget. On offense, his playstyle of midrange shots wasn't a good fit for Houston. On defense, opponents attacked him on pick and rolls which is a common strategy that teams use against unskilled defenders like Anthony. In November, the Rockets released him. Despite almost signing with the Lakers, he went the rest of the season without a NBA team. A shame for one of the best players of his generation.
So why am I saying that Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players of his generation? Because Anthony was truly an awesome player to watch. Let's start with his abilities.
For his entire career, Anthony's game hasn't been flashy. His moves are very basic. He would attack the rim with a simple drive to the basket off a dribble hesitation, a rip and go move, pump fake, or spin move in the post. His jump shot comes from a pull up off the dribble, a hesitation from three, pump fake, turnaround, or in transition. But his deadliest move, is the jab step. To explain it, let's go through through a simulation of 3 possessions.
On the first possession, Carmelo gives you a jab step. It has you thinking about whether he'll shoot it or drive. He then drives to the basket with ease and scores.
On the second possession, Carmelo gives you a jab step. You immediately think that he's going to drive to the basket and you move with him towards the basket. The only problem, is that he's still in the same spot with the ball and you can only watch him make another basket.
On the third possession, Carmelo gives one jab step. You're not hesitant at all. He gives you another jab step. You back up. A third jab step now makes you think that he's going to shoot. Then with a simple pump fake, you go flying by and then it's just a matter of whether he scores on a jump shot or at the basket.
So there you go. At least 25 points coming from 12 simple moves. What has been his accomplishments from those 12 moves? A career total of over 25,000 points, an average of 24 points both in the regular season and playoffs, 14 straight seasons where he averaged 20 or more points, and the 2012-2013 scoring title.
What has been overshadowed in his career, is his impact. Yes his PER and win shares isn't high, but that shouldn't overshadow the impact that he had on the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks. In his first year with the Nuggets, he elevated them from a 17 win team, to a playoff team. For the next 4 seasons, Denver was a playoff team with Anthony improving his game. The only problem was that they kept losing. In 3 of those 5 seasons they lost to the finals participant of the West in the Spurs (2005 and 2007) and Lakers (2008). Then things changed in 2009. With a midseason acquisition of floor general Chauncey Billups and the athletic big man duo of Kenyon Martin and Nene Hilario, the Nuggets won 54 games and clinched the second spot in the Western Conference with Anthony leading the way averaging 23 points and 6 rebounds. They met a Hornets team led by Chris Paul who had won 49 games. But in what was supposed to be an exciting series, turned into a cakewalk for the Nuggets who won in 5 games which included winning the final 2 games by scores of 58 and 21. Their next series against the Dallas Mavericks, saw Melo hit a game winner in game 3 in what was another easy 5 game series for Denver. Despite giving Kobe Bryant and the heavily favored Lakers everything they had in the Conference Finals, they were too much for Nuggets as they won in 6 games. The 2009-2010 season once again saw the Nuggets as one of the top teams in the West. Melo was amazing, averaging 25 points. In one game, he hit a game winner over LeBron James in a marquee game against the Cavaliers. But they went back to their first round woes, losing to the Utah Jazz in 5 games. What happened in the offseason, got the entire NBA watching.
In July of 2010, LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat to join all stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Another close friend of Anthony in Amare Stoudemire signed with the Knicks. Later in that summer, LeBron called a toast advising that Carmelo and Paul join Stoudemire in New York to form a big three of their own if they wanted to beat the Heat. That got Melo thinking. With one year left on his contract, he could either go to New York in free agency or force a trade since Denver would probably want to get something out of him if he leaves. But with the collective bargaining agreement expiring, a lockout was likely to happen. Therefore, if Melo would want to be on a team during the lockout, he would have to force a trade to the Knicks which was his prime destination. But through the first 50 games, he grew unhappier since no trade was happening even though he was still balling out with the Nuggets. On February 22, 2011 Paul remained on the Hornets, but `Melo was traded to the Knicks.
Technically, this was a homecoming for Melo because he lived the first 8 years of his life in Brooklyn before moving to Baltimore. So when he walked out the tunnel for his first game as a Knick, the crowd was probably the loudest since Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing got his number retired. Melo didn't disappoint either, scoring 28 points in his first game which was a win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks would be inconsistent in the second half of the season, but still made the playoffs: the first time they made it in 7 seasons. They would however lose to the Boston Celtics in 4 games. The Knicks got off to slow start the next season since most players were out of shape with the NBA strike happening for the first 16 games. Fortunately they improved and by the time the season ended, the Knicks were one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Anthony was playing amazing basketball in April, averaging just under 30 points a game. His best game in not just his Knicks career, but his entire career, came in that season against the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks started off strong, but the Bulls who were the #1 seed that year, rallied to take what seemed to be a commanding lead. Then Melo hit a three pointer to send the game into overtime. Once again, the Bulls looked like they were going to escape with a victory. But Anthony had other plans. With the clock running down as well as the Knicks' playoff hopes, he hit a spectacular shot with Luol Deng's hand right in his face. The Knicks won the game and made the playoffs where they faced the Miami Heat. They lost the series, but they managed to break their streak of 13 straight playoff losses thanks to a 41 point performance by Melo in game 4. 2012-2013 was arguably the best season in Carmelo's career. The Knicks won 54 games and their division with Melo serving as the catalyst. He averaged 28 points which won him the scoring title and helped the Knicks win 13 straight games. In the playoffs against Boston, Anthony averaged 29 points and led the Knicks to victory in 6 games: their first playoff series win since 2000. But all of the happiness ended in the second round against the Indiana Pacers. The next 4 seasons had bright moments which included Melo scoring a career high and franchise record 62 points, reaching 20,000 points, and hitting many clutch shots and game winners. But he was playing those seasons with a terrible supporting cast which included playing with the likes of Andre Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and Joakim Nosh amongst others. The coaches and the front office didn't help either, as they served as distractions to the team. All of these factors caused the Knicks to miss the playoffs in all of those seasons. Then Carmelo was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder one month before the 2017-2018 season.
He spent his only season in Oklahoma City as the third option behind Russell Westbrook and Paul George, averaging a solid 16 points and 5 rebounds. But the more was needed out of him. Especially in the playoffs against the Jazz where the Thunder couldn't afford to put him in during the final 3 games. In July, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before agreeing to a buyout where he was put on waivers. He agreed to a one year contract at the veteran minimum with the Houston Rockets. His season wasn't a success and even though he accepted whatever role Houston gave him, it wasn't enough to save him. He was released after only 12 games.
So that leads us to now. It's hard to believe that a player who has scored over 25,000 points with some of the most basic moves and turn teams from laughingstocks into playoff teams, wouldn't be on a roster. While some think he is someone that can only score, but not win, they are forgetting how great he truly was. As a huge Knicks fan, Carmelo is still my favorite player on that team and I think he had a good tenure in the Big Apple. When he retires, his ability to score and win should be the first thing that comes to mind when you say the name Carmelo Anthony.
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