Carmelo Anthony is not the player he once was. He is no longer a perennial All-Star or a 20 point per game scorer, but he can still play a role of tremendous value to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the Lakers’ first regular-season game, Anthony played the most minutes off the bench of any other player. He put 26 minutes of work on the court, scoring nine points on 3-for-9 shooting while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists.
Through one game, it appears as though Anthony will be the Lakers’ sixth man moving forward. This puts him in contention to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, something that he’s not considering a motivational factor right now. “It’s different. You can have that mentality,” Anthony said of the award. “Kind of forces you or pushes you to play at a high level every night and not look in front of you or beside you… Understanding what I have to do in those roles in order to help this team.
“So in my mind, it’s not about winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. It’s about being the best sixth man for our team. If that’s the case. Knowing that I have something to look forward to night in and night out knowing I’ve got to come in fully prepared.”
In Anthony’s first regular-season game as a Laker, he was a minus-5 in a game that the Lakers lost by seven. It’s hard to come to a complete judgment off of one game, but for Anthony, shot selection was the main issue. Because he is no longer the player he once was, he needs to adjust his offensive game plan accordingly.
If he wants to be the best sixth man he can be, he’ll need to be more cautious with his shots. If he shares the floor with Anthony Davis, LeBron James or Russell Westbrook, it would make sense for him to avoid shooting contested midrange shots.
A few years ago, that shot would be right up his alley. But now, it takes away from the team’s ability to run an offensive scheme, especially if any one of the Big 3 is on the court with him.
Anthony absolutely can win Sixth Man of the Year — even if that’s not what motivates him — but he’ll need to change his role ever so slightly from what he was doing with the Portland Trail Blazers the last two seasons.
Standing ovation made Anthony feel at home
Part of the explanation for Anthony’s Opening Night shot selection could be the adrenaline he felt from the Lakers’ home crowd. When he checked in for the first time, he received a massive standing ovation from the fans.
Anthony spoke about the warm welcome. “I felt right at home. I felt comfortable coming right in playing and just hearing the fans cheer for me the way they cheered and stand up and give that ovation. That always makes me feel good, it makes you feel comfortable, makes you feel confident.
“Especially coming from Lakers fans because I battled with the Lakers so many times for many years, so for them to be cheering for me wearing a Lakers uniform, it’s a different feeling.”
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