Two years ago, Carmelo Anthony was nearing his final days in the NBA, with very few teams willing to give him a chance. The Portland Trail Blazers stepped up to the plate, but on the condition that Anthony come off the bench. Fast forward two years, and Anthony remains an impact player in his opening weeks with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony prolonging his NBA career was a direct correlation to his ability to finally accept a lesser role. He is no longer the superstar he once was, but he can still be valuable when used as a bench scorer. His first seven games with the Lakers have proved that, as he has reached double figures in five games and over 20 points in three games.
The Lakers veteran discussed how the first few games of the season have gone for him. “It was all about me being able to adapt. New environment, new situation, new players,” Anthony said of the Lakers. “What makes it easier for myself is that fact that I have the minds that I have on the team. The fact that we can be honest with one another. We can hold each other accountable; they can hold me accountable, I can hold them accountable.
“People take that for granted, when you are on a team and you’re trying to win, and you have goals. For me, again, I’m going to always go back to being able to adapt into whatever situation that I’m put in.”
Winning a championship has been the explicit top goal of every player on the Lakers, making it easier for each individual to make sacrifices. LeBron James has definitely taken notice of Anthony’s work in this realm thus far. “As the playmakers of this team, myself, AD and Russell, it’s our job to get our guys great looks, where all they have to do is catch and finish, or catch and shoot.
“I try to not make them do too much, even though Melo can do a lot with the ball, obviously. He’s doing work off the pick and rolls as well, getting to his pull up game, but you know when it comes to efficiency and as far as what he’s doing for our team right now, we’re just on a breakdown of defense, and he’s finding himself, either his man is guarding him and he’s leaving him, or he’s in the great rhythms and he’s just taking his shots and knocking them down.
“You know, it’s definitely big for us. Especially having some of our other playmakers out, having two of our snipers out, as far as Wayne, and TA. So, Melo definitely stepped it up from the perimeter, for our perimeter shooting.”
Through seven games, Anthony is averaging 16.7 points per game, on 50% from the field and a ridiculous 52.2% from three. These numbers might be unsustainable, but it speaks to the level of play he’s still capable of at this stage in his career.
In the regular season and the playoffs, it’s important that the Lakers have some players to turn to outside of the Big 3 to produce.
Frank Vogel impressed with Anthony’s defense against Rockets
It’s still very early, but Anthony had perhaps his all around best game as a Laker against the Houston Rockets, showing prowess on both ends of the court. Vogel was particularly impressed with him, saying “I didn’t expect him to have a defensive performance like he did tonight. He was great. Forget about the steals, blocks and strips, he’s always good with his hands. He’s in the right position.”
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