How Melo’s decline forces adaptation to succeed at the Thunder

Carmelo Anthony

As the NBA Free Agency period is commencing next month, Carmelo Anthony‘s future is one of the hottest topics.

Carmelo burst onto the basketball scene in his first year at college on the Syracuse University roster. The 2002-03 season was his only year in college basketball. He averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds a game throughout the collegiate season. Leading the team in the aforementioned areas, he would dominate in the “Final-Four” championship tournament and elevate Syracuse to their first ever NCAA championship. These incredible performances were rewarded with the “Most Outstanding Player Award”.

After accomplishing his dreams of winning a title for his team, his previous plans to sign on for another year or two had been scrapped. With the blessing from the board of Syracuse, Anthony declared eligible for the 2003 Draft, while being widely touted as one of the hottest college prospects of that year.

Prospect Carmelo

At the Draft, Carmelo was selected 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets. The 2003 Draft was particularly exceptional in degrees of talent, considering LeBron James was selected 1st overall and players such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were also in the mix. In his rookie season, Melo played exceptionally well. He played a total of 82 games, totalling 21.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG, contributing to the Nuggets’ playoff push.

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However, they were stopped in the first round by a talented Minnesota Timberwolves outfit, who would go on to defeat them 4-1 in the series. In each of his 8 seasons, Carmelo would capture an average above 20.0 PPG for every year in the Rocky Mountains. His best year, in terms of point totals, came in the 2006-07 season. He totalled 28.9 PPG that season, however, Denver bowed out of the playoffs, to the Spurs who continued on to sweep the Cavaliers in the finals. Furthermore, he carried the Nuggets to the Playoffs in every season he played for the team, failing to progress past the first round in each season. Except for the 2008-09 season, when the the team reached the Western Conference Finals, unfortunately losing to the Lakers 4-2 in that series.

It was on the eve of the 2010-11 season that a certain buzz surrounded the superstar regarding his future. It was alleged that he had filed for a trade, however, he signed on another season. Then, on the 22nd February 2011, along with Chauncey Billups, he was traded to the ‘Big Apple’ and elected to be the newest number 7 on the roster. Finally, Melo had the spotlight that every superstar needed. Albeit, at that point, he was placed on a team with little to no help. With the only notable player an ageing Amar’e Stoudemire.

Knicks Era

In his first full season with the Knicks, the team were rattled by injuries, which derailed their campaign. However, basketball hysteria took over, with the surge of popularity behind Jeremy Lin, a period of time aptly named “Linsanity”. As the seventh seed in the Playoffs, and without the help of Lin and co, he saddled his team on his back once more. In a 5 game series versus the eventual winners, the Miami Heat, Melo shot 41 points in the Knicks’ first Playoff win in 11 years.

Unfortunately, the Knicks were defeated 4-1 in the series. Carmelo played a total of 6 and a half seasons in New York City, once again maintaining above 20.0 PPG in each season. He was part of 3 Playoff runs with the franchise. The problem for Melo has always been his lack of help. Basketball has and always will be a team sport, any great player can play great ball, but no player can win a Championship by himself. The basketball world witnessed that last week, as not even Lebron could bring the Cavs to victory against the Warriors at the 2018 NBA Finals. So, with Anthony being traded to the Thunder, then surely he could finally eclipse his haters and critics alike. Could he finally win the big one?

The answer in short was no. The Thunder were stacked for the 2017-18 season. With the 2017 MVP, Russell Westbrook, and the help of stars like Paul George and Steven Adams, they looked like a front runner to win it all before the season began. Oh, but how the mighty fell.

Thunder Troubles

In a lacklustre regular season, OKC finished 4th. The team itself lacked chemistry, camaraderie and most importantly points. Russell Westbrook had a torrid time playing at the point, consistently criticised for his attempts to stat-pad. Carmelo, however, had by far the worst season on the team. He looked totally out of place. Finishing with a shocking 16.2 PPG, Anthony posted his worst numbers ever produced in his lengthy NBA career.

Despite his poor performances last season, his assets could still be utilised elsewhere. The main problem with him is that he still feels that he is a superstar, and yes, his name does carry a certain degree of superstardom. Nevertheless, in order to be effective Melo must use his wealth of knowledge to help bring on a new breed of talent on whichever team he lands up. Speaking of which, at this moment in time no real rumours have spread of any team interest. Despite that he has an ETO contract, which means that he has the option to terminate his contract with his current team, and go on to be an unrestricted free agent. If he chooses to do exactly that, any team vying for a comeback story will be eager to snap at the chance of signing Carmelo Anthony.

In conclusion, the best option, I feel, for Carmelo would be to re-sign with the Thunder if they would have him. With the right training in the offseason and a new found chemistry due to this, the Thunder could truly dominate the league as many thought they might’ve this past season.

 

About Greg Forbes 41 Articles
Greg is a follower of basketball, baseball, ice hockey and American football as well as several other sports. He reads and writes about a range of topics, while supporting the Steelers, Red Sox, Knicks and Blackhawks. Twitter: @G29750721