It was made official on Monday. The Houston Rockets have inked Carmelo Anthony with a one-year, $2.4 million deal — the Orange Roundball League’s veteran minimum contract. But does the addition of Anthony truly make the Rockets a better team?
With James “The Bearded Wonder” Harden and Chris “CP3” Paul already dressed in Red, Silver, Black and White, does Melo’s presence truly give this roster a Big Three?
Or, are the Rockets simply trying too hard to uproot the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Western Conference? In my opinion, the answers to these questions are simple.
We’ve already seen what the trio of Russell “The Roadrunner” Westbrook, Paul “PG-13” George and Anthony brought to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Although they’re all perpetual All-Star players (Carmelo is a 10-time NBA All-Star) individually, the dynamic of these three on the floor together created major problems in OKC. Westbrook wants the orange in his hands, and rightfully so with his blazing athleticism. I still believe he’s the fastest player with the basketball in his hands in NBA history. Beep, beep. George wanted the rock as much as humanly possible as well. I completely understand, Paul.
Then, there’s Mr. Anthony still in the fold. And Melo wants the round goodness in bulk. Taking the ball out of Anthony’s hands is like ignoring a newborn when their diaper needs to be changed. He’s going to cry without that orange in hand. Not only that, he’s a ball stopper — meaning that he rarely passes. Instead, Anthony can completely drain the 24-second shot clock while trying to drain a jumper, or drive to the tin. What happened to ball movement, ladies and gentlemen? The Warriors certainly have it. Maybe that’s why they’ve won three championships in four seasons. Duh. Not only that, they most definitely have the players to get it done as well. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant. Should I keep going? That’s okay. I think you get the point.
Now, the Rockets have decided to add Melo to their fold. Don’t get me wrong, Anthony is a tremendous offensive talent. He has averaged 24.1 points per game throughout the entirety of his career. From the Denver Nuggets, to the New York Knicks, to the Thunder. But you have yet another scenario that has Harden, CP3 and Melo all wanting the basketball in Houston.
Head Coach Mike D’Antoni loves to continually use his isolation style on offense. The problem with isolation is that a lack of ball movement creates one-on-one situations. And the Rockets have purposefully put the orange in either Harden or CP3’s hands, and have tried to create mismatches that put the offensive player in a favorable spot. But how do you distribute the rock equally to Melo, CP3 and Harden throughout the course of a 48-minute contest? Well, you can’t. Not only that, you’re relying solely on your offense to carry you to an NBA title.
I really don’t understand why you’d choose to let one player represent five guys on one play. If you decided to utilize these three studs in a ball movement oriented type of offense, deep space could be the Rockets’ destination. And if jump shots are being missed within the concept of isolation hoops, long rebounds will most certainly lead to easy transition buckets on the other end of the floor.
Let’s talk defense. Houston won’t be able to replace defensive specialists Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. Both signed free agent contracts during the summer. Ariza will be a welcome piece to the Phoenix Suns’ puzzle to become contenders quickly. As for Mbah a Moute, he will be playing in Tinseltown for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Houston couldn’t afford to lose these two guys to free agency, and think that the signing of Anthony would heal the wound. Many think that the Rockets will be even better than a year ago with Melo aboard, but I believe their chances of making a title run in 2018-19 have actually dwindled.