Resume: 22.6 points (6th in league), 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 34.1 minutes, 295 free throws made (9th in league), 43% FG, 34% 3PT, and 80% FT… Team record in games played: 29-26 (7-4 without)… Playoffs: 27.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 42% FG, 76% FT, 1-4 record… All-Star, 3rd Team All-NBA
Back in January I imagined that the Team USA roster was under my control (yes, a bit ambitious for someone with the limited credentials that I have), and with that control I made the executive decision to leave Carmelo Anthony off of the USA Olympic Basketball team. It was somewhere around his 6th three pointer against Nigeria I realized how incredibly idiotic it was to leave off one of the best international players in the entire world; someone who would feast when he was dealt a size mismatch and knock down a whole bunch of wider than wide open threes. In retrospect I was incredibly stupid and I like to think I wouldn’t make a mistake like that again.
Something that my friend Corey Edwards and I briefly talked about after the Olympics were over and I had cooled down from my Team USA Basketball craze was if the play of certain guys in the Olympics was going to impact their rank on this top 50 list. For example, I became a huge Alexey Shved fan during the Olympics (slightly anti-American, but I couldn’t help how I felt), but at no point in time did I ever get so irrational about how well he played that I even considered him for the top 50. He didn’t even come close to making the list of guys I considered. However, seeing as how Carmelo Anthony always seems to play huge for Team USA, and 2012 was no different, we discussed Melo’s ranking and where it should rightfully be. Yes, I know I factored how the Gasol brothers played a bit into each of their respective rankings. But their situation is vastly different than Carmelo’s. I did my best to not use too much of Carmelo’s offseason in his ranking.
The one thing I am going to take into consideration from the offeseason is the workouts Carmelo is having with Hakeem Olajuwon. It seems as if the thing to do if you are an NBA player and you want it to be known that you are serious about your career is now to work out with Olajuwon. Kobe Bryant set the precedent. Dwight Howard and LeBron both went to The Dream for expert tutelage. Now it’s Melo, who already possesses a great post game of his own, who will pay a visit to Olajuwon, giving us even more of a reason to put the pressure of winning a title on his shoulders.
I’ve called Carmelo Anthony out for years, and I’m calling him out again right now. I’ve gone on record saying that Carmelo couldn’t be the best player on a title team, and I’m sticking to those guns. I need more from a superstar player than Carmelo Anthony has given me. As someone who is often characterized as the best scorer in the NBA, Melo has never won a scoring title and has finished in the top 3 in the league only three times in his career. But really, that’s fine. It’s not like the best player on a championship team needs to lead the league in scoring. The problem with Carmelo is, what else does he do for you at an elite level? He rebounds reasonably well, but he isn’t elite. He doesn’t make his teammates better. The majority of the time he looks not only like a poor defender, but a poor defender that doesn’t even care to be playing defense. Are you going to win a championship with that kind of guy as your best player? Does that sound like a Kobe Bryant/LeBron James type of player? What about Michael Jordan? Are you going to win a title where you best guy and leading scorer shoots 43% from the field, and doesn’t do anything else at an elite level? We are foolish to put Melo in a similar class as these players since he is seemingly so far from that mold. At the same time, it’s unfair to Carmelo that he’s constantly being compared to all-time greats.
What will Carmelo’s legacy end up being? If you had to bet your life on one of the following two choices, which would you pick?
A.) Volume scorer who will be mentioned in the same breath as George Gervin and Dominique Wilkins- Someone who can score brilliantly in stretches but will never win the big one or be remembered as a truly elite player.
B.) Great player who will be mentioned in the same breath as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant- Someone who can do whatever it takes to win the big one and will be remembered as a truly elite player.
Frankly, I’m rooting for Carmelo and option B. As I said with Andrew Bynum a couple of days ago, I’m never going to root against more great players in the NBA. Maybe Carmelo will prove me wrong and thus take my life into his own hands and hypothetically end it in a very violent fashion, but I’m betting on option A and feeling pretty confident about it.