In the past month, the world has seen Carmelo Anthony’s status and value in a free fall. When the Knicks resigned Melo to a five-year $124 million contract in the summer of 2014, they were preparing to build the team around him. Now with the NBA getting younger, the Knicks need to get younger. A lot has changed in the game of basketball since Melo signed, and most of it has not been with Melo’s style. That is part of the problem.
Since 2014, the league has shifted away from isolation plays (plays where one player gets the ball, and everyone else moves away, giving him space to score) and moved toward fast-paced offense with the ball constantly moving and never resting in someone’s hands for longer than it has to. This has made players like Melo, someone who stops the ball on offense and lives off of isolation plays, much less needed or wanted. That is clearly visible now as the Knicks are doing everything they can to trade Melo, but no teams are interested.
Lebron adapted to the new game averaging over two assists more this year than in 2013-14; James Harden, another notorious isolation player, is averaging five assists more this year than he did three years ago. Melo has not changed though. He is actually averaging less assists now then he was three years ago which was already a low number. Right now, Melo averages just under three assists a game while Harden averages over eleven assists and Lebron averages almost nine per game.
This inability to keep the ball moving haunts Melo wherever he is trying to go. Phil Jackson actually tried forcing this by making sure the team focuses on never holding the ball for more than two seconds; the strategy was unsuccessful. He is no longer the top scoring threat that he was years ago, and his inability to play fast, team basketball ensures that no top teams will be looking to acquire Melo. He is at the end of his prime but still thinks he is the same player he was five years ago, and no team, in playoff contention or rebuilding, wants to spend an absurd amount of money to get a player like this.
His reliance on isolation plays also hurts when being looked at by young, rebuilding teams. Teams like the 76ers, Timberwolves, or Lakers are trying to embrace a new, faster style of basketball that the Spurs have been winning with for years. Even the Knicks have been trying to play more like this recently, but Melo has made it difficult for them to do this.
Finally, other than scoring, Melo really makes no contributions to the game. He takes defensive attention which can open lanes for other players, but averages only 2.9 assists per game and 6.0 rebounds per game. He also is a liability on the defensive side of the ball.
Melo needs to change his ways, his idea of his superstar status, and improve his ball movement and effort plays if he wants to get on a good team or a young one and have a chance for a championship.
Photo from: espn.go.com