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How Carmelo Anthony Prepared for his NBA Return

Matt Ellentuck of SBNation interviews trainer Alex Bazzell on the specific way Carmelo prepped for Portland and the NBA.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony’s return to the NBA has received plenty of attention since his debut Tuesday with the Portland Trail Blazers. After a year out of the league, the former superstar put in plenty of preparation to get himself game-ready. Matt Ellentuck of our parent network, SBNation, conducted an extensive Q&A with Anthony’s trainer, Alex Bazzell, this week, digging into the process.

As Bazzell describes, some of Anthony’s preparation was team-specific:

[The Blazers] run a double-drag ball-sceen primary offense, it was more about spacing and where I thought he might catch the ball once Dame or C.J. come off a ball screen where they might throw it back, and the angles he might catch it at. Then it was veering out. He might get some mid-post touches if he gets hot. It was mixing all that up.

We worked on a lot of defense over the summer. [With the Blazers] it was seeing how they liked to guard ball-screens, tendency-wise. I’d come off and he’d guard me on ball-screens. I’d switch up between attacking and shooting and try to really challenge him and get his hips turning. We jam-packed everything in in the last three days, but it’s stuff we’d worked on.

Defense was a particular point of interest:

It was the first thing we talked about when we met. We watched through film about how he’s guarding off ball-screen switches, because that’s what teams are going to do to get the mismatch. We worked on that a lot.

...He played with low hands a lot, so we worked on, when a guy drives, when to have your off-hand up or keep it down; knowing angles of when to turn and run, and when to slide. Early on in his career, he wasn’t guarding a lot of ball-screens because the game wasn’t that way, he was playing the three early in his career for New York so he was guarding wings. Now he’s guarding fours and fives even. It’s different.

Ellentuck elicited far more in the Q&A, including Anthony’s future goals, trash talking, and the human element of the star’s return.