Under The Hood: What Carmelo Anthony Brings To OKC


In an offseason driven by shocking trades and free agent signings, the Oklahoma City Thunder arguably made the most impactful additions, as they bolstered their roster with two all-star forwards. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti fleeced the Pacers in the Paul George trade, then followed it up by acquiring Carmelo Anthony. Trade talks between the Knicks and Rockets had stalled, as Houston was reportedly unwilling to give up 2016-17 Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon. Presti swooped in and worked his magic, as he landed the perennial all-star in exchange for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott. The initial impact of these trades is obvious, as the Thunder once again have an elite big three, and appear ready to compete in a loaded Western Conference.  

Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook now has two all-world talents at his side to help him on his quest to dethrone the Warriors and ultimately reach the NBA Finals for the second time. George’s role on offense seems somewhat clear, as the Fresno State product will operate in a way similar to how Kevin Durant did during his time in OKC. George brings elite scoring ability and athleticism from the wing that the Thunder sorely missed after Durant’s infamous departure. 

Surprisingly, the Carmelo Anthony trade brought some criticism from around the league as many people wondered how exactly the Thunder planned to utilize him. The thought that Melo would have trouble finding his rhythm within the Thunder offense doesn’t seem to make much sense. Despite Westbrook tying his career high with 10.4 assists during an MVP campaign, many remain skeptical that he can effectively run the offense. “Westy” proved he can do so with an average supporting cast, and he should have no trouble integrating his new teammates in the 2017-18 season. The hole in offensive production that Kanter left, will be easily replaced by what Carmelo brings to the table. Melo will slide into the power forward spot, a role that is only new to him on paper. While he has traditionally always played at the small forward spot, today’s NBA has shifted much more towards a position-less type of game. Although both George and Anthony are thought of as small forwards, this should not be expected to slow down the Thunder's offensive production in any way. 

Carmelo's Shift to Power Forward

It is important to not fall into the media narrative that Carmelo was simply a ball hog who didn’t help create for his teammates. During his tenure with the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony was often forced to carry the load offensively, which naturally led to a very high level of volume. However, Melo was surprisingly good at distributing the basketball, as he was able to find his teammates for open looks when needed. Despite often facing double teams and playing without much help offensively, Melo proved he was more than capable of handling the pressure. Even with opposing defenses keying in and doubling him during isolation and post up situations, Anthony was able to remain effective. In the table below, it is easy to see that “Hoodie Melo” was proficient as both a scorer and distributor when operating from the post.

Post-Up - Derived Offense

% Time

Poss

Points

PPP

Rank

Rating

FGm

FGM

FGA

FG%

aFG%

%TO

%FT

%SF

%Score

Overall Post Up - Derived Offense 17.20% 343 327 0.953 59% Good 153 115 268 42.90% 45% 8.20% 15.70% 15.50% 46.90%
Post-Up Player's Offense 82.50% 283 260 0.919 63% Good 125 91 216 42.10% 42.10% 8.80% 16.60% 16.30% 46.60%
Post-Up Player's Passes 17.50% 60 67 1.117 51% Good 28 24 52 46.20% 56.70% 5% 11.70% 11.70% 48.30%
To Spot-Up 73.30% 44 46 1.045 51% Good 24 16 40 40% 53.80% 4.50% 6.80% 6.80% 40.90%
To Cut 26.70% 16 21 1.312 60% Good 4 8 12 66.70% 66.70% 6.30% 25% 25% 68.80%

Offense Including Passes

% Time

Poss

Points

PPP

Rank

Rating

FGm

FGM

FGA

FG%

aFG%

%TO

%FT

%SF

%Score

Isolations Including Passes 22.80% 456 466 1.022 83% Excellent 210 177 387 45.70% 49.40% 4.80% 12.50% 12.70% 48.20%
Pick and Rolls Including Passes 23.10% 462 401 0.868 37% Average 226 161 387 41.60% 46.10% 11% 7.40% 6.70% 39.80%
Post-Ups Including Passes 17.20% 343 327 0.953 59% Good 153 115 268 42.90% 45% 8.20% 15.70% 15.50% 46.90%

With "Hoodie" being asked to man the power forward spot in OKC, we can expect much more of the same moving forward if the Thunder want to maximize their potential. Andre Roberson and Steven Adams will not be asked to do much offensively; their contributions on the defensive end will represent their true value to the team. Roberson will need to knock down an occasional three and Adams will be counted on to be a force on the offensive boards. This will allow the big three to all play to their strengths, without sacrificing what makes them great. Carmelo won’t have to wait long to get his revenge on his former team, as the Thunder open up the regular season with a home game against the Knicks on October 19th. Despite a cloudy picture being painted by much of the media, an exciting season is on the horizon for the Thunder. It's pretty clear how the starting lineup will look, although Melo surprisingly faced a question about coming off the bench during a recent press conference. The reporter should've known better than to question whether or not Hoodie Melo would crack the starting lineup. 

On Court Chemistry & What To Expect

Russell Westbrook is reportedly ecstatic about the new additions of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, and rightfully so. We can expect a big season from Carmelo Anthony, as he should offer the same kind of all-star impact as he did in both New York and Denver. With this trio having prior experience playing together with Team USA, chemistry may not be nearly as big of an issue as many people expect. This season will certainly be must-see-TV in Oklahoma City, as the Thunder look to shock the world and bring home a title to their loyal and deserving fans.

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