For the first time in his 15-year NBA career, Carmelo Anthony will have an opportunity to take a back seat — and that’s good news for all parties involved.
Since entering the league as a ballyhooed 19-year-old, Melo has been a number one scoring option for every team he’s played on. Even in his rookie season in Denver, he took six more shots per game than the Nuggets’ second-leading scorer, Andre Miller. A prolific scorer from day one, but one who had to be. While he’s played with some good players over the years, Anthony never took the court with another superstar in his prime. It’s an unfortunate reality that’s weighed him down in recent seasons, forcing many to question his star status.
It doesn’t need to be this way anymore, though. Anthony did his best to bring a winner to Madison Square Garden, but it’s time for the native New Yorker and the Knicks to part ways. While some have suggested Melo should team up with fellow class of 2003 draftee LeBron James in Cleveland, the impending departure of point guard Kyrie Irving makes this unwise and unlikely. Even if Irving stays put, Melo should set his sights on Houston. No one can unleash the best Melo like the Rockets can.
With a prolific floor general in Chris Paul now leading the charge, Houston can offer the 33-year-old the option to be the team’s second or third scorer — and a more efficient one at that. While he hasn’t played with any point guards of Paul’s stature during his career, Anthony’s best seasons unsurprisingly came on teams with a legitimate point guard. He’ll have that in abundance in Houston, with Paul and James Harden (11.2 assists per game last season) in charge of leading the offense. Those frequent isolation plays we’ve seen with Melo will be (thankfully) a thing of the past.
Houston’s offensive style under former Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni would similarly bring out the best in Melo’s game. With legitimate star power around him, Anthony could focus more on easy transition buckets and mid-range spot-ups — shots he feasted on with team USA during the Olympics. The 6-foot-8 Anthony could also be a serious mismatch on the offensive side of the ball if the Rockets decided to play him at power forward. This would also limit his defensive weaknesses, as he wouldn’t need to guard guys like Paul George and Kevin Durant as often.
While the addition of Anthony alone is not going to be enough to catch the Warriors, the Rockets would be a much better team with the 10-time All-Star in the fold. For the first time in a long time, watching Carmelo Anthony play basketball might actually be enjoyable, too.