With the NBA in the midst of its conference finals, one of the league’s top players over the last 15 years is once again watching the proceedings from home. Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Carmelo Anthony has been one of the best scorers in the NBA during this era which is evident by his 24.1 points per game career average. Anthony has helped the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, and Thunder all reach the playoffs, but only once was he able to advance to the conference finals which came in 2009. Anthony is a 10-time NBA All-Star, while he has helped the United States win three gold medals in basketball at the Summer Olympics. Anthony will undoubtedly end up in the Basketball Hall of Fame when his career is over, but as he’ll be 34-years of age later this month, he is on the verge of falling into the category of being a “has been”.
This past season Anthony averaged a career-low in points per game with just 16.2 as he struggled in his first season with the Thunder. Anthony failed in his new role as he played alongside point guard Russell Westbrook and small forward Paul George which was a big reason why the Thunder were eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs for a second consecutive year. Anthony also barely made 40% of his three-point shots this season which was also a career-low, but the frightening part of this was that the majority of the shots that he missed from downtown were when he was unguarded as the wear and tear of playing in the NBA appears to have caught up to him.
It’s quite obvious that Anthony’s best years are in the rear view mirror and there is nothing that his alter ego “Hoodie Melo” can do to change that as it is time for him to check his ego at the door.
During Anthony’s prime years of his career which were spent with the Nuggets and Knicks, his teams were always built around him and his isolation style of play. But having isolation plays consistently called for Anthony would sometimes see him hold the basketball for 15 seconds during an offensive possession, and it never led to a title because he forgot the first golden rule of basketball which is “ball movement”. Anthony never made the players around him better and his stubbornness never allowed him to get better.
Anthony’s skill set is the same right now as it was when he was drafted by the Nuggets in 2003 as he’s never attempted to improve his game. Anthony has only seen things his way as he could never improve as a player under head coach George Karl in Denver, nor with the Knicks when Phil Jackson was the team’s president, and it has all caught up to him now.
Anthony has never excelled at playing without the basketball in his hands, and now with a failing jump shot, it is time for him to check his ego in order to recognize that he’s no longer a star.
Anthony has one-year remaining on his contract as he is set to earn nearly $28 million next season. Anthony does have an early termination option on his deal, but he will never get that kind of money again for playing basketball.
The best thing for Anthony to do at this point of his career is to accept a lessor role in order to become a bench player. Anthony can still be an effective scorer with a team’s second unit if he learned to play without the basketball at times, while also recognizing that the spotlight is no longer on him. However that will be easier said than done as it will be extremely difficult for Anthony to realize that he can no longer get it done at an All-Star level.
It’s a shame that Anthony’s career is ending like this as he’s never been on a championship team, while he’s had to sit back and watch his close friends in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combine to win two titles with the Miami Heat which is something that he missed out on due to the fact that he allowed himself to get locked into longer contracts with the Nuggets and Knicks respectively. And now with a bad knee as well as an equally bad perimeter game, Anthony is only a shell of being the player who not that long ago was able to fill up the basket with the best of them.