Knicks

Melo Deserves One Final Shot

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And then, there remained only a few.

Just two prominent players from the draft class of 2003 are (technically) left in the league. LeBron James is one, actively pursuing the all-time leading scorer in NBA history in his 20th season.

The other is former Nuggets and Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony is second behind LeBron with 19 seasons on his odometer. So far, he’s suited up for zero games this NBA season.

Yet, that doesn’t mean ‘Melo’s stock plummeted all the way to unplayable.

Parity continues to be an important trend that’s been seen across the NBA this season. As of Tuesday, 10 teams currently sit between 26 and 35 regular season wins. One team hasn’t really stood out ahead of the pack outside of Boston’s early hot start and Denver’s midseason surge behind MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.

Most of these franchises on the fringes of title contention are incentivized to make a move around the margins. This is especially true for either a team lacking depth (like Dallas or Milwaukee) or the assets needed to make a trade deadline deal (like Cleveland or Philadelphia).

Even with nearly 1,300 regular-season games on his odometer, Anthony still could play a role on a championship favorite or playoff-bound team.

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Anthony’s ideal role

‘Melo last played for Los Angeles in 2021-2022. Anthony quietly thrived in what was an otherwise underwhelming season for the Lakers.

Last year, Anthony embraced his role as a spot-shooting, microwave scorer off the bench. ‘Melo averaged 13.3 points per game while shooting 44% from the field and 38% from three in 26 minutes per contest.

The 10-time All-Star plays nowhere near the level he’s been at as a superstar before. After all, Father Time usually wins.

Yet, hope remains for Anthony to suit up for one final season in a last-ditch effort to play for a shot at a championship ring.

Melo’s career took an interesting turn after his last season with the Knicks in 2016-2017 (his last All-Star nod). He’s played for four teams in five seasons, bouncing from disappointing runs in Oklahoma City and Houston before regaining his scoring groove with Portland and L.A.

Anthony averaged 14 points per game shooting 43% from the field and 39% from three in 196 games. That’s no small sample size there.

Ideally, Anthony best fits on a team lacking shooting or regular-season production.

Which means…

The list of potential destinations for ‘Melo

Denver ranks high in the “The NBA community would love to see him play here” power rankings.

With the Nuggets, Anthony would primarily be a microwave scorer next to arguably the best-passing center of all time.

The Nuggets rank first in three-point percentage this season (39.8%), but it’s taking the second-fewest attempts (30.6, only trailing Chicago). Just three players in Denver are taking at least five threes per game.

Slide Anthony in, and he solves a regular-season issue for a franchise with tons of starting-caliber talent but a bench lacking pop.

A couple of other teams (Miami and Toronto) fit the mold of defensively-elite teams which rank in the bottom five in three-point efficiency. Ditto for New York and the L.A. Lakers, although ‘Melo has suited up before for both those franchises.

Dallas and Phoenix remain intriguing options given their lack of depth this season and desire for some more scoring. Both the Mavericks and Suns rank in the bottom half of the league in points per game.

Boston would be the most fascinating option. The Celtics clearly are the team to beat this season. If ‘Melo is looking for a guaranteed ring and a potential bench role, Boston should be highlighted and bolded for the Anthony camp.

To date, Anthony’s career remains a fascinating one. For 14 seasons, Melo averaged at least 20 points per game, half of which he was over 25 points a game. Despite a shallow playoff resume, suiting up for nearly two decades of NBA basketball is no joke.

In the past couple of seasons, Anthony embraced his reserve role and shined.

The real question is: will anyone take a chance on ‘Melo?

After all, the Anthony camp and the league’s contenders are vying for the same thing: being at the top of the NBA world.

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About Dominic Chiappone

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