The idea of playing with the Blazers dynamic backcourt duo should be enough to recruit New York Knicks‘ Carmelo Anthony to Portland.
One thing that Carmelo Anthony has always been able to count on during his tenure with the New York Knicks is a lackluster supporting cast. It’s why playing with an elite backcourt should be enough to entice Melo to the idea of playing in Portland.
Portland’s star guards, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, made their recruiting pitches to Anthony this week. Lillard illustrated while speaking at his camp in Portland (via Kevin Spain of USA Today Sports) that he and McCollum seem to think they have a shot at talking Anthony into coming to Rip City.
McCollum said of Anthony, “I think he’s interested” and told Sirius XM NBA Radio, “If we add Carmelo Anthony, we’ll be a top-three team in the West immediately.” This comes after the shooting guard posted a picture on his Instagram of Anthony in a Blazers jersey. Needless to say, McCollum wants to play with Melo.
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While the Knicks have been publicly trying to dump Carmelo all season, Portland’s dynamic duo are desperately trying to do the opposite. It must be nice for Carmelo to feel wanted; it’s been a long time since that’s been the case. But Carmelo’s potential reason for considering Portland is about more than that. Let’s take a look at the stats. They never lie.
The Knicks have played 18 games without Anthony in the past two seasons. They dropped 16 of 18. In that same span, the Portland Trail Blazers played 14 games without Lillard. However, they were able to tread water going 7-and-7. That stat is the most telling of any in the Carmelo era in New York. His teammates have been lackluster, and that’s putting it nicely.
According to NBA.com, Lillard and McCollum shared the court for 1,807 minutes last season during which they outscored opponents by 3.7 points per 100 possessions.
Anthony shared the court with nine players for more than 500 minutes in 2016-17 and didn’t register a positive net rating with a single one. In fact, he didn’t come anywhere close.
The difference in consistency is astounding. Portland had 22 five-man lineups that shared the court for fifty-plus minutes, while New York had just nine.
Anthony had his best seasons alongside top point guards Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd. Granted, Kidd was a shell of his former self at 39, but he helped Anthony win the scoring title in the 2012-13 season.
Kidd assisted on 67 of Melo’s makes during the ten-time All-Star’s best individual season while the duo outscored opponents by 7.4 points per 100 possessions in 1,300 on court minutes. Outside of a very brief run with Raymond Felton (which was nothing like what happened with Kidd), Anthony hasn’t developed that type of rapport with a point guard since.
Derrick Rose was supposed to be that guy. The former MVP came in with pomp and circumstance, but the two stars didn’t click. Rose wasn’t looking to share the ball, and instead wanted to numbers hunt for his next payday. A lot of good that did him, right?
The former MVP was a star once, but he is nowhere near the level of Lillard and McCollum. Anthony would have to consider the fact that both guards would be the best players he’s ever teamed up with.
Lillard (27.0) and McCollum (23.0) both averaged over 20 points per game last season. In 14 seasons, Anthony has had a teammate average 20 points per game just three times. Allen Iverson did it twice in Denver and Amar’e Stoudemire did it with the Knicks in 2010-11.
Melo has had incredible inconsistency in New York and remarkable chaos. He’s played for five different head coaches and four different general managers.
Portland’s widely regarded as one of the best-run organizations in the NBA. In ESPN’s annual forecast panel ranking every team’s owner, basketball decision-maker(s) and coach from 0 to 10, Portland ranked 11th. New York was dead last.
Head coach Terry Stotts and general manager Neil Olshey have been in Portland for five seasons, and the team has made the postseason in all but one. Owner Paul Allen has as much respect as any other owner in the Association. The co-founder of Microsoft also owns the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL and Seattle Sounders in the MLS.
The Trail Blazers are the antithesis of the Knicks. Dame and C.J. should be enough to sway Melo to Portland, but if for some reason he does need more; their organizational stability should be icing on the cake.