Carmelo Anthony: Same Story, Different Year

Out of the 2003 NBA draft class, 3 of the top 5 picks have had the chance to call themselves NBA champions. Those three are LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. The other two? Carmelo Anthony and Darko Milicic.

What if by the time Anthony retires this is how he is remembered, being compared to Darko Milicic?

Carmelo Anthony has had an illustrious career. Eight All-Star appearances, a half-dozen All-NBA teams, a scoring title, 3 gold medals, and 12 full years as an NBA professional. It is glaring that his only missing accomplishment is winning a championship. After left knee surgery which made him miss over half of last season, is 2015 the year Carmelo -who is now 31- gets a ring.

Melo did appear fresh and ready for the long season in his preseason debut, ending the night 8-for-10 with 17 points in only 20 minutes. It is no question that Anthony will put up his usual substantial scoring this season, no matter what his teammates are doing on the floor. The knee surgery is behind him, and Anthony knows that it will not affect his style of play.

“If I was a guy who kind of played above the rim and played at a fast pace and just running and jumping — that was my game, very athletic — then I’d probably be sitting here singing a different tune. But the way that I play, the way that I know how to pace myself, the way I know how to pick my spots out on the basketball court, I’m not a guy who’s playing above the rim every play so it works in my favor.”

Melo is right. His style of play is based off his spot-up shooting, quick release, and a quick first step. The only question now is will his scoring translate to wins?

Anthony is in the middle of a two-year playoff drought after reaching the postseason in each of his first ten seasons as a professional. Even if the Knicks somehow manage to find a way into the playoffs, they will not get far. Once this season ends and the Knicks either get knocked out of the playoffs or don’t make it in at all, it will be the same in-denial song. “The supporting cast around Carmelo Anthony is too poor.”

While this may end up being true, the reason Carmelo Anthony will not win a championship is because, well, he is Carmelo Anthony. In today’s NBA game, the style of  play that Anthony is known for will not translate into a championship. We’ve seen what it takes to win a ring in championship teams such as the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and the Miami Heat; ball movement.

The Golden State Warriors, led the NBA in assists in 2014-15. The San Antonio Spurs led the NBA in assists in 2013-14. The Miami Heat were 7th in assists in 2012-13.

Anthony is by no means a ball hog, but he is a ball stopper. He excels in isolation offense and also needs time to create opportunities for himself. He is subpar at setting up his teammates to score, averaging only 3.1 assists his last two seasons. In this modern era of the NBA, ball movement and defense is more important than ever. That is why players like LeBron James, who is extraordinary at creating opportunities for teammates, 7.4 assists per game last season, has won multiple championships.

Teams like the Spurs and Warriors have absolutely killed the idea of isolation offense. They play as a team, trusting one another, and making that extra pass which has translated into success. No matter how many points Anthony puts up this season, it seems destined that this season will end on the same note as his whole NBA career, with disappointment and frustration. Every year, despite his individual talents, he comes up short.

If Carmelo ever decides to become an efficient passer who is willing to move the ball consistently throughout the season, then we may possibly end up seeing a different ending to the story of Carmelo Anthony.

photo via Wikimedia.org