The beauty of painting a portrait is found in the possibilities of color. The artist paring random dark and light shades and textures of paint against a white canvas board and bending them to the will of every brush-stroke until the end result is at best, a beautiful landscape to adorn the walls of a home or the table of a gallery in some upscale art district. Or at worst, a vivid and colorful glob serving as a humbling reminder that painting is an expensive hobby.
The difference between a masterpiece and a piece of trash is the addition of one shade, and the Western Conference runner-up Houston Rockets has reached that point with their imminent acquisition of Carmelo Anthony.
The Rockets painted a damn good-looking picture last season. The artistry of league MVP James Harden, Chris Paul and GM Daryl Morey turned the canvas of their team into a 67 win season and first seed in the conference. The highlight of their portrait was taking the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
Sometimes in art as well as basketball, you have to leave well enough alone. But on the other hand, beautiful basketball and art are often about taking the risk. For the Rockets, landing Anthony is a bold risk.
Why It Won’t Work
Make no mistakes about it, ‘Melo, once he retires is a lock for the hall of fame. We’re talking about a player who is a 10-time all-star , scoring champion and gold medalist.
However, Anthony’s a fraction of the player he used to be, and it seems as if everyone knows it but him. He scoffed at the notion of coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year when it was probably better for the team. Anthony started in 78 games for OKC . However he averaged a career low of 16.2 points per game on 40 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from deep as he struggled to play off ball with Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Anthony also proved to be a liability on defense, as the Jazz exploited him in the pick and roll during their first round series. The Thunder recorded a defensive rating of 110 with Anthony on the court. With Anthony Off the court, the Thunder posted a rating of 98.2.
The Rockets are a switch heavy team on defense and with the departures of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, defense at the wings is vital. Unfortunately, Anthony isn’t that guy that can play the solid defense that’s needed to compete.
Offensively, the Rockets play at a deliberate pace. The same pace that Anthony butted heads with coach Mike D’Antoni during their time together with the Knicks. The relationship between the two came to a fiery climax when the coach resigned amidst an ultimatum.
Again, Anthony can keep up with D’Antoni’s tempo. Granted Anthony can still score but his penchant for ISO ball is a detriment to ball movement.
Why It Will Work
If Anthony comes into Houston self-aware and humble, it is possible that the gamble could pay off. He could take the lessons he learned from playing off the ball in Oklahoma City and apply it to his approach in playing with two ball dominant stars in Harden and Paul. He wouldn’t need to waste time in a possession with his excessive jabs and drives, because Harden for better or worse, can take care of that. Anthony can also be an effective roll man in a pick and pop situation with Paul.
D’Antoni can have Anthony either split time with P.J. Tucker or bench him. Anthony could be a stabilizing player for the second unit. Without that pressure of being the main option, Anthony can focus on playmaking as a point forward. Setting up other for the assists while looking for his own opportunities.
Defensively, Anthony must buy in and prepare to switch. What really helped the Rockets against the Warriors was their ability to switch multiple times on defense and baiting the Warriors into an ISO fest. If the Rockets want to remain competitive in the west, they must convince Anthony to stick to the system. Granted he probably won’t be as effective as Arizia but there is no reason why Anthony could not be at least solid.
What do you guys think? Is Anthony a great fit for the Rockets? Will Anthony adapt his game to mesh with the team? Let is know in the comments and on twitter.