From his rookie days with the Denver Nuggets, to becoming a leading man in New York, to acquiring nicknames based on his clothing, to his preeminence in international competition, Carmelo Anthony’s basketball reputation has been constantly evolving in his 19 years in the NBA.
However, as Anthony begins to carve out a role with his sixth franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers, some things remain the same.
“He’s been a headache for each of those teams,” said San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has devised defensive schemes to try to thwart the No. 9 scorer in league history for nearly two. decades.
Throughout Anthony’s career, as ubiquitous as his megawatt smile, it has been his mark as a certified scorer.
“A threat,” that’s how LeBron James described it. “He is a sniper. As we call it in our league: guys who don’t need a lot of airspace to shoot because of their quick trigger. “
Anthony averaged more than 20 points in each of his first 14 seasons with the Nuggets and New York Knicks, winning the scoring title in 2012-13 with 28.7 points per game for New York.
He has scored 50 points four times and surpassed 40 points 40 times.
“I’m still here doing it,” said 37-year-old Anthony. “I think that’s what makes me honestly excited. I’m here in my 19th year and I’m still doing what I can do. I’m still passionate about the game. I’m still passionate about coming to work every day and improving ”.
While Anthony was the undisputed number one choice on those Nuggets and Knicks teams, his role took different forms in recent stops, refining his game to fit the rosters he found himself on as a complementary player, rather than as a the leader of the pack.
Here’s how he went from a supernova with the Nuggets to a high-level role-playing player in Los Angeles.
The Olympic Melo
As the most decorated Olympian (three golds, one bronze) in US men’s basketball history, Anthony’s time on that team will likely be considered the best basketball of his career.
He started in the ‘Redeem Team’ in Beijing 2008, but was at his best during the London Games in 2012 as the second leading scorer behind Kevin Durant, averaging 16.3 points on 53.5% from the field and 50% from 3-point range from coming off. of the bank. While Durant averaged 19.5 points during America’s 8-0 run to gold, he did so in 26.1 minutes per game, with Anthony playing just 17.9 minutes per game as a reserve.
Anthony averaged more points than James, the third-best scorer in league history, and Kobe Bryant, No. 4.
During that stretch, he had one of the most mind-blowing performances in international basketball history, scoring 37 points in just 14 minutes of playing time against Nigeria. Anthony made 10 of 12 3-point attempts in that game, and Team USA won by 83 points.
“When he started coming off the bench, it was perfect,” Jim Boeheim, Anthony’s college coach at Syracuse and an assistant to Team USA, told ESPN. “He had the game against Nigeria, he made like 100 triples … It was crazy.”
Anthony is the all-time leading scorer (336 points) and rebounder (125 rebounds) in the history of the United States men’s national basketball team.
For Boeheim, who coached Anthony as a teenager and led Orange to the NCAA title in 2003, and again years later as part of various Olympic teams, it was obvious that Anthony could fit his game for whatever team he played for.
“What’s interesting is that when no one wanted to sign him three years ago or whatever, I said to some people, ‘Well, he came off the bench at the Olympics and he played well. It’s not like he wasn’t available to come out of the game. bench and take shots because that’s what he does, ‘”Boeheim recalled.” So that’s what kind of surprised me about the whole thing. “
El Melo de Thunder / Rockets / Trail Blazers
The last half decade has seen Anthony jump to a handful of teams, including a nearly year-long hiatus in which he was out of the league.
The period of turmoil began with a trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder just before the start of the 2017-18 season.
“I loved Carmelo,” said Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan, who coached Anthony at OKC. “It was great working with him. I think it was a very, very difficult situation for all of us because the change for him happened the day before the training camp opened. “
Anthony went from averaging 18.8 shots per game for the Knicks to 15 per game for the Thunder. He started all 78 games he played in the regular season and the six he appeared in during Oklahoma City’s first-round loss to the Utah Jazz. He struggled in the postseason, averaging 11.8 points on 21.4% from 3s. This, of course, after setting the tone for his time in Oklahoma City with a response at a press conference during training camp that some in the league felt he was unwilling to make a change.
“Who me?” Anthony joked with a reporter when it was suggested he might come off the bench for the Thunder. “I don’t know where that started, where that came from. Hey, P (Paul George), they said I had to get off the bench. “
Looking back, Donovan said Anthony’s reputation took an unfair blow.
“All these things about starting, coming off the bench, I’ve always found Carmelo to be a very, very good team man,” Donovan said. “Really good in the dressing room. I think guys really enjoy being around him. I think he is an authentic, genuine, sincere and real guy. And everything we asked him to do, he tried to do the best he could. “
The OKC experiment lasted only one season. Following a trade to the Atlanta Hawks, who let him go after the termination of the contract, Anthony formed a new ‘Big Three’ in Houston with James Harden and Chris Paul.
AND that The experiment lasted only 10 games, two of them in which Anthony appeared as a bench player for the first time in his NBA career, before the Rockets essentially told him to go home. He was eventually traded to the Chicago Bulls, who let him go without playing a game.
Then came the period of more than a year in which Anthony was without a team before the Portland Trail Blazers, fighting at the start of the 2019-20 season, signed him, and his stars, guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, backed him up. the move.
“It was close to almost no one taking a chance,” Boeheim said. “Just think that if Portland hadn’t done that, I don’t think I’d play. And then everyone has a completely different perspective on him. “
Anthony started 58 games in his first season with the Blazers and proved he could still clutch, hitting key jump shots late in the game in the seed round in the Orlando, Florida bubble.
“It was great,” Boeheim continued. “I mean, he would go eight minutes without shooting and on that team, you might not get a shot. And then he would do two. And to his credit, they would go to him down the stretch, he would end up making a triple at the end to win. the game. It was crazy, really. “
Anthony played one more season at Portland and came off the bench in 66 of 69 games. In the playoffs, despite Portland losing to the Denver Nuggets in the first round in six games, Anthony fared better as a reserve than as a postseason starter with OKC, averaging 12.3 points in 23.9 minutes and shooting 37.8% on 3s.
The Lakers Melo
Anthony is a bright spot in a bumpy season with the Lakers.
Throughout his first 18 games, all off the bench except three, Anthony is shooting a career-high 46.1% of 3 points. Anthony has even been playing better at home, where Los Angeles fans quickly fell in love with him, shooting 53.2% on 3s, the best percentage in the NBA for any player who plays home games with a minimum of 30 3-point attempts. .
“He knows who he is as a player and finds places where he can be of use, and this is a great example of that,” Popovich said of Anthony’s success in Los Angeles. “He’s done it again. He takes care of himself. He’s a pro. And he makes all teams better. So I’m happy for him.”
Anthony averages 15.2 points on just 11.2 shots per game and is often asked to fill the wings and open the perimeter. He has hit 47 3-pointers this season, the best total in the league heading into Monday’s games, beating Milwaukee’s Grayson Allen (46), according to Second Spectrum tracking.
“He’s in a great rhythm,” James said. “He’s just taking his shots and making them.”
While Anthony hasn’t gone so far as to speak of the Rockets for selling him and the 28 teams outside the Blazers for not signing him, he has enjoyed his time with the Lakers.
“As for what I can do on the court, I don’t think that’s going to change,” Anthony said. “I don’t need much. I choose my spots, I hit open spots, I shoot when I’m open, my teammates look for me. Now, I’m not the type of possession player who comes onto the court with the offense playing through me. so I can see the game differently, from a different perspective. “
Anthony has already been named among early candidates for Sixth Man of the Year and has been key to the Lakers’ success. LA is 7-2 this season when Anthony scores 15 points or more, and he’s a huge difference-maker for the offense. The Lakers are averaging 108.6 points per 100 possessions with Anthony on the court and just 97.0 points per 100 possessions without him. That offensive index differential, a plus-11.6, is tied with James for the team’s greatest.
“I don’t think he would say he sees him as a role player,” Boeheim said. “I think when he comes in, he looks like, ‘I’m going to score points.’ You average 14-15 per game in what, 22-23 minutes? That’s almost a star quality game. So I think when You walk in, whoever you are, you have to think, ‘I’m a star.’ And he believes in himself, he always has, and there’s a reason for it. It’s good. I mean, it’s proven. “
“What is he, the ninth scorer of all time in the NBA? That’s pretty good.”