Carmelo Anthony, contrary to popular belief, isn’t dead yet. It is easy to get so caught up in arbitrary stats, ruminating about the three-point percentage shots of one Russell Westbrook, or if you’re like myself, the disappearing act known as Paul George. Some folks have gone as far to say that Steven Adams should be the definitive third option on the Oklahoma City Thunder. I get it, this team is one huge conundrum.
Just don’t forget about ‘Melo.
The path to success is one paved with failure, and the nascent Thunder have certainly gotten their fair share of that this season. As I sat down and analyzed the statistics in disappointing losses such as the loss to the Kyrie Irving-less Boston Celtics Tuesday night, or the unlikely victories against the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, I literally could not see how in the world this inconsistent team is going make a deep post season run. Then all of a sudden, an unequivocal idea came to me.
Last night, Westbrook shot three three-point shots in the last 5 minutes of the fourth quarter and missed all of them. He is shooting an abysmal 29% from three-point land for the season, and historically has never been good in that category, despite the high volume of shots that he takes. But you know who is a pretty good shooter, especially in clutch moments?
Let’s be real here. Who do you trust more to close a game with seconds left on the shot clock,
Westbrook or Anthony?
I’ll bet my check on Anthony any day.
Sure, Anthony has been relegated to the tertiary scoring option behind Westbrook and George, but the two of them combined don’t have enough clutch DNA to measure what Anthony has.
Sure, he missed two crucial free throws against the Celtics, but that was an aberration. But also, he honestly hasn’t gotten many chances, comparatively speaking, to get to the free throw line in the last 5 minutes.
Just as recent as last season, no player has hit more go-ahead field goals in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime than Anthony since 2003-2004, according to ESPN Stats & Info. He shoots an outstanding 34 percent in those situations, while the league average is 23 percent. He is the most clutch player of his generation.
For the basketball junkies and old heads, don’t forget Anthony once led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship. He is very confident when the pressure is at its apex.
The barometer for the Thunder is not gauged by teams such as the Denver Nuggets, Kyrie-less Celtics, or the Los Angeles Lakers. OKC plays down to their competition, which is well documented, and is a nascent “Big Three” characteristic flaw as previously demonstrated by the 2010-2011 Miami Heat Big Three. When it matters most, trust and believe that the worldly talent of Westbrook, George, and Anthony will eclipse all of those bottom feeders. No, this team has bigger fish to fry in the Warriors, Houston Rockets, and Portland Trailblazers.
Speaking of, we will see all of those teams again very soon, starting with the Trailblazers, this Sunday.
Now I know many of you are going to come at me and try to tell me I’m wrong, but deep down you know it’s true. The Thunder need Anthony late in games. Give me all of your refutable statistics, and I’ll point you to the court. I know what I see, and he is the only person I trust to get the job done on this team when the team needs buckets. George isn’t the man, and Westbrook as evidenced by the last five minutes of last night’s game isn’t that guy either. Don’t get me wrong, those two are highly paramount and critical for this Thunder team. But when the pressure is on, and you have ten seconds on the shot clock and possession of the ball, I don’t trust those two. Anthony on the other hand? Because of his shooting prowess, that’s your best shot at winning, no pun intended.
But just know, if you forget about ‘Melo, especially late in games, you can forget about any chance of going deep in the playoffs.
Hey guys, Mark here! This is my debut column for Welcome to Loud City! Very excited to cover Russ, PG, Melo, Steven Adams, and the crew this year! In the modified words of Drake, what a time to be a fan!