COMMENTARY | In a recent interview with Bravo TV, Carmelo Anthony's wife, La La, had this to say about their time in the Mile High City: "Listen, I used to live in Denver with him. If I can live in Denver, I can live anywhere. I just want him to be happy."
This remark was made in the context of a discussion about Carmelo Anthony's pending free agency. Apparently, La La wants to let every franchise know that Melo's open to playing anywhere.
For his part, Carmelo indicates that the only thing that truly drives him is a quest for a championship.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of evidence to back up that statement. Anthony forced his way out of an excellent situation in Denver to play for the Knicks. In doing so, he forced New York to give up the best parts of its roster as well as multiple draft picks.
It's hard to fathom that Anthony believed he was entering a situation where the odds of earning a ring were much higher. Even the league's most elite talents need a complementary cast.
Regardless, the bridge was burned in Denver, and given Anthony's expressed eagerness to pursue free agency, it looks like the bridge is at least smoldering in New York. All but a small handful of NBA general managers are probably now asking themselves whether it's worth it to make a play for Melo.
Taking a closer look at the numbers, it appears as if Anthony is having one of his best seasons. Specifically, he's doing two things better than he ever has before: rebounding (almost 9 per game) and three-point shooting (43%). On the other hand, his defensive rating is as weak as ever and his assists are paltry given how much he has the ball in his hands.
But there's a deeper lesson to be learned from these statistics, and Anthony's recent record-setting performance against the Charlotte Bobcats helps illustrate the point. On January 24, Melo lit up the floor for 62 points and 13 rebounds in a blowout 125-96 win. The more telling number? Zero assists. Not once during this dismantling of the Bobcats did Melo find a teammate for a jumper or an easy layup.
There's a difference between being an elite player and being an elite scorer. The truly great players, the ones who you want to hitch your championship hopes to, will make others around them better. Melo has never shown an ability to do that.
At times, he'll be an unstoppable one-on-one player, as he was against Charlotte a few weeks ago. But you can't rely on performances like that every night. Shooting is a streaky endeavor inherently linked to chance. Defense and team play are effort-based and can be expected night after night even when the shots aren't falling.
It may be that Melo will one day win a championship. But if he does, it's likely as a supporting player when he is past his prime. Teams looking for the cornerstone of a championship-caliber team should probably look elsewhere in free agency.
Because while the individual statistics may be gaudy, there's more to the game than scoring.
Doug Brockwell grew up in Denver and has been following the Nuggets religiously since the Doug Moe era. He regards the Carmelo Anthony trade as one of the greatest GM feats in NBA history.
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