Assessing why Carmelo Anthony fizzled out with the OKC Thunder

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In the summer of 2017 the New York Knicks traded their franchise cornerstone Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two months before the exchange, Sam Presti had made the bold decision to acquire Paul George from the Indiana Pacers.

This move for Anthony dominated NBA media as many thought Oklahoma City had just formed the league's next “big three.” Unfortunately for Thunder fans, Anthony’s time with the team did not exactly go according to plan.

After just one season and a first-round exit against the Utah Jazz, the franchise cut ties with the 10x All-Star, shipping him to the Atlanta Hawks the following offseason.

Other big three teams are remembered for championships, sometimes more than one. Just look at the 08’ Celtics or the early 2010’s Miami Heat.

Why did this trio fail so miserably? It’s time to take a look into why Melo’s time with the Thunder ended as poorly as it did.

After all, prior to his trade to OKC, the forward had made eight consecutive All-Star games and was still considered to be one of the league's elite talents. Here are the top three reasons why Carmelo Anthony’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder was a colossal disaster.

Sky high expectations

It feels safe to say that the expectations put on the 2017-18 Thunder squad were far too high. Many NBA fans truly believed that OKC could claim their first Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season.

That postseason, Oklahoma City was awarded the fourth seed in the Western Conference. This was good enough to give them home court advantage in their first round matchup against the Utah Jazz.

While fans had hoped for a more memorable regular season, the matchup against the Jazz seemed promising for OKC.

That promise didn’t last long however, as it took just six games for rookie Donovan Mitchell to dispatch OKC. Thus ending the short-lived big three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook.

In the summer of 2018, the Thunder traded Carmelo Anthony to the Atlanta Hawks in a move that brought in Dennis Schröder. Schröder would go on to have a successful tenure in Thunder blue.

We’ve seen on multiple occasions teams going out to make a big three and coming out of it with no draft picks and no trophies. The bright side for Oklahoma City was that they abandoned this experiment after just one season, and only sacrificed one first round pick in the process.