The Carmelo Project

Carmelo Anthony has been back in the NBA for a hot minute so it’s not a surprise he is doing Melo  like things. Like scoring. And scoring. And more scoring. In spite of his offense, Anthony’s ceiling is pretty clear. He wasn’t brought in to transform the Blazers into contenders. His presence will- if things work out-add one more wing that has to be defended. It opens up the lanes for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. It gives the Blazers another option and an experienced veteran. So far, these are the honeymoon days of Melo and Rip City.

Melo has played in 6 games. He’s averaging 15 shots per, shooting a 46% clip which Melo hasn’t managed in 12 years. He’s shooting 37% from three which is the most efficient Melo has been at draining long j’s. He has never had an efg% over 50% but that is what he is trending this season. His 6 boards per game is a four year high. He’s not really passing the ball but so what. No one on the Blazers passes the ball. They are an iso team.

His defense is what you expect. Horrible. His offensive rating is the same as it’s been the past three years when old Melo was upon us night after night. Melo’s 14.7 PER is the province of rookies, not future Hall of Famers unless those future HOF’s are way past their prime and are just hanging around.

Because Carmelo has a rich scoring history, evaluating him on anything other than scoring is like complaining that milk is white. He is a scorer. But what do the [scoring] numbers say?

He’s making a higher percentage of his jump shots than James Harden. 40% to 37%. In the 1st and 3rd quarters, he’s shooting 50%. In the 2nd quarter, an ugly 35%. And in the 4th quarter, 40%.

His 3-point shooting takes a serious dive after the 1st quarter which isn’t a surprise for an older player. The legs get tired. He’s 50% in the 1st but 33% in the second, 20% in the third, and he recovers in the 4th for 37%.

The tighter the game is, the less efficient Carmelo is, meaning under pressure he is so-so. He is shooting over 50% when the margin is 6 points or greater. 55% when there is a 10 point margin, But in close games, he is shooting 36%.

So far, everything is greater in Portland. His offensive rating is 132 compared to a 90 offensive rating on the road. His usage rate is less at home. His field goal percentage is 63% at home. But he’s only played 2 home games. This much is clear. When Melo is Melo the Blazers win. When he’s old dude been out the league a while, the Blazers lose.

Blazer wins are 22 points and 7 rebounds for Melo. Blazer losses are 13 points and 4 rebounds. The question becomes, how do the Blazers get good Melo?

Carmelo has only played one contending team to expected results, rolled by the Bucks. The Blazers beat the lottery bound Bulls twice. With or without Carmelo, they are supposed to own the Bulls. Ditto when it’s the Westbrook-less Thunder. Against the atrocious Cavs, he shot 33%.

It’s hard to know who Carmelo is six games in. 3 of their next 6 games are against the Clippers, Lakers, and Nuggets, three teams expected to fight it out for the best seed in the West. Two of those games, the Clippers and Nuggets are on the road.

The Blazers have the third most losses in the West (12). They are scoring slightly fewer points than they scored last year.  Their last in assists ranking with 19.9 per game is worse than last year. Same goes for steals.  They give up more points than they score, a recipe for disaster that Carmelo cannot fix.

But he can give them a shot in the arm. Just by being on the court and in the locker room, the Blazers win with Carmelo. He wasn’t supposed to fix their woes, more like put a bandage on it. Melo is giving Rip City a brand new feeling though. Whether he can continue his impact when the schedule gets tougher and his body is rudely reminded he’s not on vacation anymore remains to be seen. If you take it one day at a time, it’s been a good Melo return. For him. The Blazers. And us.