Carmelo Anthony is fast solidifying as a real candidate for the sixth man of 2021-22.
This was unthinkable a few years ago, but it has now become a reality as the veteran star continues to thrive after accepting his role-playing future.
Anthony’s story is well told. Torn from NBA secrets by the injury-ridden Portland Trail Blazers a few seasons ago, Anthony was desperate to return to an NBA floor, even if that meant ditching the lead role he has played throughout his career.
Two seasons with the Blazers led Anthony to a Lakers roster that was inundated with some of the brand names the game has had to offer over the past decade. Rather than trying to get into a fight about where or how he gets his touches, Melo has simply fitted himself into the second unit, taking whatever gets in his way on an offensive that has often spat elsewhere.
The veteran blew off the bench for 24 points defeating the Cavaliers, knocking six triples from eight attempts to the ground.
“He’s one of the best in the league. He’s been a professional goalscorer throughout his career,” said head coach Frank Vogel.
“You have to credit him for really turning into an elite catch-and-shoot guy who is a good size and can shoot in the face with one hand. 6-for-8 out of three, lots of huge buckets, a lot of the profit. “
As it is proper to play alongside players like LeBron, Russ and AD, Melo finds his shot attempts in open space, which is good for his continued success on this offensive.
When Anthony got into the game against Cleveland, he tried 5.0 catch-and-shoot threesomes per game and knocked down a very respectable 40 percent. Anthony shot 40.2 percent on those 2019-20 attempts and 39.8 percent last season.
Perhaps more importantly, NBA.com’s tracking data shows that 5.0 of its 6.0 3-point attempts per game are classified as wide or wide open.
“I just find my place, find my position on the pitch,” said Anthony after the game. “LeBron does a great job reading the square, seeing where everyone is and knowing where the guys are in the square. Today he did a great job finding me. “
Averaging 15.7 points per game through six, Anthony’s scoring average is the highest since his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017-18.
The outbreak against the Cavs marks the second time Anthony has beaten six triples in one game this season, with the first instance taking place on a 28-point night against Memphis. The Lakers won that game against the Grizzlies, and much like today’s game against Cleveland, they needed every single one of his three to the dome celebrations.
Melo recently overtook Moses Malone on the all-time goalscorer list and is in ninth place. It’s been a messy couple of years for Anthony, but there are only eight players in league history who have scored more points, with Shaquille O’Neal likely to be skipped at the current pace this season as well.
Anthony is a weapon off the bench on this offensive and should only get more as the Lakers build chemistry with the rest of the squad.
Most importantly, we should appreciate the way Anthony is extending his career in a role he has never had to fulfill in his entire basketball life.