Carmelo Anthony’s addition brings a mixed bag of expectations to the Trail Blazers. By signing a 35-year-old forward that is a year removed from action, the Blazers appear willing to try anything to break out of their current slump. With caution in mind, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton examined both the positives and negatives tied to Anthony’s return to the NBA.
Pelton’s positive outlook begins with a closer look at the extra attention that Damian Lillard has received from opponents. Looking at the numbers from Melo’s previous to seasons, Pelton details his fit as a floor-spacing power forward.
In part because of Portland’s power forwards, the other Blazers weren’t able to generate enough offense to take advantage of the attention Toronto paid to Lillard and McCollum. If he’s [Anthony] comfortable serving primarily as a spot-up option when playing with Portland’s starters, Anthony should get high-percentage shot attempts.
Whether Anthony takes advantage will depend in large part on whether he can recapture the accuracy he showed on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers with the New York Knicks. From 2013-14 through 2016-17, Melo shot 43.2% on those opportunities, per Second Spectrum data. That dropped to 37.9% (about league average) during his lone season in Oklahoma City, and Anthony made just 27.5% of his catch-and-shoot 3s in the 10 games he played in Houston.
To represent the other side of the equation, Pelton addressed the elephant in the room: Melo’s defensive reputation.
Via Cleaning the Glass, Anthony’s teams have allowed more points per possession with him on the court in every season except one. Though Melo might not be physically overmatched in the post like the smaller Hezonja, teams are likely to target him in isolations against quicker power forwards and as part of pick-and-rolls. With Aminu at power forward, Stotts frequently switched pick-and-rolls. That won’t be a strong option with Anthony.
Melo is set to join the Trail Blazers during Portland’s current six-game road trip. On Monday, the Blazers will visit Houston to face the Rockets. During a 10-game stint with the Rockets last season, Anthony averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
You can read Pelton’s complete breakdown at ESPN (subscription required).