When the Portland Trail Blazers first announced the signing of Carmelo Anthony to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, there seemed to be a sense of skepticism among the fan base. After nearly a year off, would the former NBA All-Star be a suitable third-option right away? Was he capable of reaching some of the highs of his earlier years? Would his offensive contributions make up for defensive deficiencies?
In a recent column, ESPN’s Royce Young broke down Anthony’s first few months with the Blazers and explained that while Portland’s Melo experiment could already be considered a success, it also needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
The Blazers were desperate, and Anthony has helped stem the considerable issues Portland has, largely because of a flurry of injuries. Before signing Anthony, the Blazers’ offensive rating was 108.0. Since, it’s 111.2. Their defense is about the same, and most lineups with Anthony in them are overall a positive.
Young also pointed out that Anthony could be reverting to some old Knicks habits as the honeymoon phase concludes.
He’s taking far fewer catch-and-shoot attempts, isolating more, holding the ball more and taking more midrange jumpers and fewer 3s. He’s averaging 0.2 points per game less, in almost the same minutes on almost the same number of attempts. His effective field goal percentage is 47.1, which is well below league average.
While those numbers are worth keeping an eye on, one of the main reasons that the Blazers signed Anthony was that they were in desperate need of a player that could immediately contribute. It can be argued that Anthony stepped up and has filled that role well.
Overall, Anthony has been about the same player he was in Oklahoma City and Houston, the one who essentially got dumped from the league for a year. But the Blazers need him badly, flaws and all, because they are fighting attrition.
Through 20 games with the Blazers—in which Portland has gone 9-11—Anthony is averaging 16.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a game while playing roughly 32 minutes.
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