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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Carmelo Anthony's Inefficient Season Debut is Not Surprising

It is not easy to return to the NBA after an extended absence, regardless of the reason for that absence. Michael Jordan shot just 7-28 from the field in a loss to the Indiana Pacers in his first game back after he retired (the first time) from the NBA to play minor league baseball. The main thing that he showed during that game is that he still had the necessary stamina and skills to take a high volume of shots against NBA competition. Jordan soon regained his efficiency, reasserted his dominance, and teamed up with Scottie Pippen to lead the Chicago Bulls to three straight championships during the next three full seasons.

So, it would be premature and unfair to offer a definitive assessment of Carmelo Anthony's current capabilities after just one game back. Nevertheless, it must be said that his season debut with Portland on Tuesday night should not surprise anyone who has followed his career closely. New Orleans beat Portland 115-104 as Anthony scored 10 points on 4-14 field goal shooting in 24 minutes. Anthony had a -20 plus/minus rating, by far the worst in the game (next was C.J. McCollum's -9). Anthony had four rebounds, no assists and a game-high tying five turnovers. He did not attempt a free throw.

This has been the Anthony story for quite some time, and even more so in recent years: he provides little contribution other than scoring, but he no longer scores efficiently, and his team not only loses but his team performs significantly worse with him on the court than it does when he is on the bench. Anthony has never been a good defensive player, and he was never exceptional as a rebounder or passer, but those limitations mattered less when Anthony could consistently score 25-30 ppg at a reasonably efficient clip. Now, Anthony is not a volume scorer, and he is less efficient than ever, which makes it difficult to justify putting him on the court for extended minutes when he is also not going to contribute much as a defender, rebounder or passer.

Apparently, Portland plans to keep Anthony in the starting lineup, which is not only baffling but also a sign of just how desperate things have become for a team that made the Western Conference Finals last year. Unless Anthony discovers a Fountain of Youth that enables him to regain his form from several years ago, it is difficult to picture Anthony as a rotation player for a playoff team, let alone as a starter playing significant minutes.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:40 AM



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