4 Potential Carmelo Anthony Lineups With the Houston Rockets
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks grabs the ball before the opening tipoff against the San Antonio Spurs at Madison Square Garden on February 12, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

A Carmelo Anthony trade to the Houston Rockets would produce some unique lineups. This is how the high-powered combinations will look.

If and when a Carmelo Anthony trade to the Houston Rockets finally happens it will be a relief to everyone around the NBA. We’ve heard all the rumors, so all we need to see is the final product. We’ve heard all the hypotheticals. The only question left to answer is how exactly Melo would look with that vaunted squad.

The offense that Mike D’Antoni, Daryl Morey, and James Harden put together with the Rockets last season was unlike anything the league had ever seen before. They launched threes at a record setting rate and finished with the 10th best offensive rating and 11th best effective field goal percentage in NBA history.

According to NBA.com, Houston had two of the three best five-man rotations in the NBA by offensive rating (minimum 100 minutes) and four of the 20 best by net rating. These lineups all consisted of players who were traded for Chris Paul.

Paul should be able to replace nearly all of the production lost in his trade, but Houston must not feel like it has enough to compete with the Golden State Warriors. Carmelo Anthony would add even more firepower to some incredible Houston lineups.

It’s always fun to think about the potential lineups that a coach would throw together with a star player. Especially a coach like D’Antoni. Considering Anthony is reportedly dead set on being with the Rockets next season; this is a realistic possibility.

What will D’Antoni cook up for his former nemesis? I analyzed these four lineups as some good examples. Two current Rockets, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza, were taken out of the equation as both are likely to be moved in any deal.

Lineup #1: Starters?

  • Point Guard: Chris Paul
  • Shooting Guard: James Harden
  • Small Forward: P.J. Tucker
  • Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • Center: Clint Capela

There’s a lot of power forward Melo on this list. Houston’s probable starting lineup is the first taste. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of that in New York.

The jury is out on whether or not Paul and Harden are going to work. The so-called experts love using a cliche when describing the match of the two star guards saying both “need the ball in their hands” to be successful.

The same experts conveniently forget to point out that Harden and Paul are 36.4 percent and 37.0 percent three-point shooters respectively during their illustrious careers. Paul is widely regarded as one of the best mid-range shooters of all time. The point is that both guys can spot up and score.

Melo has morphed from one of the greatest scorers in modern NBA history to one of the best spot up players in the NBA. He’s one of the five best mid-range players in the league, still lethal from the mid post, and above the league average from three-point range.

Capela had the best year of his career last season averaging a career-high 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. His absurd field goal percentage (.643) was top ten in the league. He finishes in the fast break at the rim as good as any big man in the league. Capela and Chris Paul should hook up on many a lob pass.

The starting lineup is rounded out with P.J. Tucker. He’s been a thorn in Melo’s side each time New York has matched up with Tucker’s Phoenix Suns. Houston got Tucker at the bargain price of $32 million (not being sarcastic) and he should be a big help in picking up Anthony on defense.

Lineup #2: Bombs Away!

  • Point Guard: Chris Paul
  • Shooting Guard: James Harden
  • Small Forward: Eric Gordon
  • Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • Center: Clint Capela

The number of threes that this lineup could, and should chuck up in just a short amount of time is immeasurable. Mike D’Antoni is drooling just thinking about it.

Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Award Winner Eric Gordon was fourth in the league in threes made last season. Harden was third, and Anthony was 25th. If Paul had played more than 61 regular season games, he would’ve been significantly higher than 55th.

Houston averaged over 40 three point attempts per game last year. They want to take 50. With this crew, they could make that number a reality.

Capela will be in there to clean up the glass as usual. Last season he averaged 2.7 offensive rebounds per game and finished 9th in offensive rebounding percentage. The Rockets will have plenty of second opportunities as long as he’s out there.

Lineup #3: No CP3

  • Point Guard: James Harden
  • Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon
  • Small Forward: P.J. Tucker
  • Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • Center: Clint Capela

Chris Paul isn’t going to play the entire game, right? At some point, he will get hurt too. Whenever this happens, Harden will slip into that point guard role and run the show.

You’d have to think that things will run just as smoothly with Harden as they would with Paul. This lineup has all the makings of lineup two except with lesser three-point shooting sans Paul.

P.J. Tucker is certainly no Chris Paul from the outside. For his career, Tucker is a perfectly average 35.1 percent.

When you like to run and shoot as many threes as Houston does it’s important to have as many unique small ball lineups as Houston can have if they bring in Carmelo Anthony.

That’s another thing that Anthony gives the Rockets: Versatility.

Lineup #4: No Harden

  • Point Guard: Chris Paul
  • Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon
  • Small Forward: Luc Mbah a Moute
  • Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • Center: Nene

One of the reasons Houston sought out Chris Paul was so James Harden could get a little rest. He’s missed only two regular season games in the last three seasons combined and led the league in minutes (2015-16) before finishing in the top ten again this season.

Gordon slides in next to Paul and becomes what we saw last season with Harden, a mad bomber next to a phenomenal playmaker. For the second straight season, Eric Gordon will be in the top five in three point makes and takes. Count on that.

Luc Mbah a Moute was known as more of a defensive stopper before this season. Then he exploded as a three-point shooter with the Los Angeles Clippers. That’s what the Rockets needed. Another shooter. Mbah a Moute was a career-high 39.1 percent from downtown on 1.4 attempts per game (43 of 110).

Like Tucker, Mbah a Moute should be able to help Anthony when he struggles on defense. Houston has loaded up this team with so much talent that Anthony won’t have anything to complain about anymore.

Another free agency home run for the Rockets was the Nene contract. They were able to lock up one of the better veteran big men for just $11 million. He proved in the playoffs that he can still get it done on offense when he made over 70 percent of his FGAs while dominating the much younger Oklahoma City frontcourt.

Melo has already played with Nene in Denver, so the rapport is there. In fact, Nene has already campaigned for Anthony to come to Houston by doing what else an Instagram post.

Carmelo Anthony can be at the center of one of the most prolific offenses in NBA history next season.

He will be playing alongside a Hall of Fame point guard, an MVP candidate, and perhaps most importantly he’ll get a shot at redeeming himself with the coach he vanquished five years ago.

It’s impossible to blame Anthony for wanting to leave and even more impossible after you take a look at the lineups he has the potential to be a part of.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for EliteSportsNY.com. I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: chip.murphy@elitesportsny.com Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.