10 All-Star appearances, four-time Olympic medalist, six All-NBA appearances, the 2013 NBA scoring title, and 2003 NCAA National Champion. Over the past few years, one of the most hotly debated topics around the sports interweb is Carmelo Anthony’s Hall of Fame resume. The current debate is mainly constructed around the blemishes of Melo’s career, such as the train wreck that was the Melo-Phil Jackson beef, the caboose of that train wreck also known as the Oklahoma City experiment, or the well-documented 10-game stint with Houston.
After 17 relatively successful seasons in the league, Carmelo Anthony has played in 1,064 career games while posting career averages of 24.0 PPG, 6.5 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.0 STL, and 45%/35%/81% Shooting Stats. Even with Melo’s most recent struggles, just eyeballing his career numbers it is clear Carmelo Anthony should be a lock to make the NBA Hall of Fame.
I am fully prepared to take heat in the comments section, I know Melo wasn’t the “golden boy” the Nuggets thought they drafted with the third overall pick, but from the very young age of 19, Anthony delivered on his draft position scoring 20+ points every season until he joined the Thunder for the 2017-18 season, as he averaged “only” 16.2 per game. Not a terrible average, but when you consider his FG% and the team’s performance now that he’s moved on, Melo seems like a negative-impact player in his later seasons. Perhaps the biggest flaw I find with Melo’s career was his head-scratching push for a trade out of Denver at the deadline of the 2010-11 season.
Ah yes, 2011. It was a hectic time that included the infamous “Dwightmare” and “Melodrama” aliases for their respective front office debacles. Whether by chance or choice, New York City did not prove to be Melo’s fantasy franchise destination. Melo wanted out of Denver because he knew players such as J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Marcus Camby were all soon-to-be free agents the following season. Whether it was his wife’s idea or his own, Anthony went on to have four relatively efficient years with the Knicks. Though he put up franchise-caliber player numbers, Carmelo Anthony only lead the Knicks out of the first round once (2012-13), while making the playoffs three times out of the seven seasons he was a member of the team.
Was Melo able to carry the Knicks to a contending team? No.
Was Melo thrust into a system where a scoring wing would flourish? No.
Was Melo surrounded by supreme talent in The Big Apple? No.
Did Carmelo Anthony waste his NBA prime in New York? Absolutely.
Just two seasons ago, it was evident that Carmelo was still “the man” when it came to offense. Though there was a healthy Kristaps Porzingis at the end of Melo’s tenure, that didn’t stop Anthony from putting up solid numbers with 22 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 3.1 APG in his 13th year in the league.
Even though Melo found success in the 2016-17 campaign, it was clear Kristaps Porzingis was the face of the franchise and Melo was on the way out. On September 25th, 2017, Melo was moved to Oklahoma City in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick. Prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, a reporter asked Melo how comfortable he was with coming off the bench in some instances. Melo responded with a coy laughter, little would he know his response would ultimately shape the rest of his career path.
In his lone season with the Thunder, Melo averaged 32 minutes per game while starting every game he participated in (78 games). Anthony posted career-low averages in points (16.2), assists (1.3), and PER (12.7). The PER league average is 15.0, the rating of a rotation player. After performing at such a high level in Denver and New York, Anthony found trouble fitting in in OKC along the All-NBA tandem of Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
The timetable of Anthony’s trade didn’t help matters either, being dealt to a team halfway across the country just two weeks before the start of the season is quite the adjustment to a team, and as Anthony would call it, the 25th hour.
Whether or not Melo finds a team this season, the bottom line about Carmelo Anthony is he was (and still sometimes can be) one of the most dominant and aggressive scorers of all time. Anthony proved to be a matchup nightmare- he could drive, was lethal from midrange, and could hit with efficiency from deep. However, the black mark on Anthony’s HOF resume will always boil down to two things: his lack of playoff success and his unwillingness to accept a bench role on a contending, playoff, or title favorite.