Why Carmelo Anthony is succeeding with Blazers but failed with OKC Thunder

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 27: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 and Danilo Galinari #8 of the OKC Thunder, Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Blazers fights for position, (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 27: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 and Danilo Galinari #8 of the OKC Thunder, Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Blazers fights for position, (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Damian Lillard #0, and Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers look on against the OKC Thunder on November 27, 2019 (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Fit with Blazers working better than with OKC Thunder:

Of course, the inference to ‘this season’ Melo makes is the fact he joined the Blazers. That opportunity arose as Portland was hit hard by injury to the frontcourt with both Jusuf Nurkic out and Zach Collins going down three games into the campaign.

Like the Rockets, the Blazers had an ongoing interest in Melo and like Mike D’Antoni,  coach Terry Stotts is one of the better offensive minds in the business. The difference in Portland’s case arguably is Damian Lillard was more open to making whatever adjustment to allow Melo to fit into the Blazers offensive scheme.

Anthony suited up for the Blazers on November 19th, joined the starting rotation appearing in 50 games prior to the suspension. As for his role, his stats reflect the Blazers are a better fit than either the OKC Thunder or Rockets.

Per Game Table
Season Tm G FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL PTS
2017-18 OKC 78 6.1 15.0 .404 2.2 6.1 .357 3.9 8.9 .437 1.9 2.5 .767 5.8 1.3 0.6 16.2
2018-19 HOU 10 4.9 12.1 .405 2.1 6.4 .328 2.8 5.7 .491 1.5 2.2 .682 5.4 0.5 0.4 13.4
2019-20 POR 50 5.8 13.6 .426 1.4 3.9 .371 4.3 9.7 .447 2.3 2.7 .843 6.3 1.6 0.8 15.3
Career 1114 8.5 18.9 .448 1.3 3.7 .348 7.2 15.2 .472 5.4 6.7 .812 6.5 2.9 1.0 23.6

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2020.

His point total (15.3) is great for the third scoring option but take a glance at the other categories and notice the improvement over the past two seasons. His assists, rebounds, steals, and free throws tallies are all up. And, his shooting efficiency is up for overall field goal percentage and 3-point percent. Although the mid-range percentage has dipped he’s taking more shots from this area than he was in OKC or Houston.

As for why it’s working in Portland but didn’t with either the Thunder or Rockets perhaps it’s as simple as Anthony’s acceptance to his role. Logically, the answer is deeper in context, however.

For example, as much as analysts want to call Paul George a two-way player who is versatile offensively, for all intents and purposes, unless the 3-ball is dropping with great frequency PG is also a predominantly iso-heavy player. Having three players who all prefer to play iso was never going to work.

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And, the Rockets system only works now for Russ because of the points I outlined above. Whereas, the Blazers have both Lillard and McCollum who can hit from range or drive to the basket, and prior to his injury also Rodney Hood.

That alone allows Anthony to be in a better position to succeed. But the other major factor is the number of playmakers and emphasis on ball movement in Portland also allows Anthony to be the best version of himself.

Sure, he’s had to adapt and accept a revised role, but after feeling like he’d hit rock bottom and may never play again Melo is reveling in his second chance.

For the OKC Thunder fans while we lamented his shortcomings his time here was positive otherwise. His voice in the locker room was clearly a strong asset and we’re happy he’s back in the league where he belongs.

Next. 35 moments in honor of Chris Paul’s 35th birthday. dark