Carmelo Anthony recently appeared on First Take with Stephen A. Smith to discuss his career choices and his current state. From watching the interview, it definitely seems like Melo is willing to accept a bench role. Quite a few teams in the league could use a skillset that Melo possesses. From his last full season in the league, 2017-18 with the Thunder, Melo shot 35.7% from 3, and 37% in spot up situations. Teams that need a spacing wing could use a guy like Melo.
Carmelo Anthony told Stephen A. on First Take that "I was going to Chicago" in 2014 free agency. But then he started hearing whispers….. https://t.co/TM54aODRmT
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) August 2, 2019
The biggest knocks on Melo have been his ego and his defense. Melo’s release from the Rockets and subsequent tenure on the free agency market with no takers has absolutely cured the former. Admittedly, his defense isn’t up to par, but there are definitely worse wing defenders according to some more advanced metrics. FiveThirtyEight’s DRAYMOND statistic has Carmelo as a below-average, but not horrible on-ball defender. BBall Index’s PIPM (Player Impact Plus-Minus), has him as about the same in their evaluation of the 2017-18 season. The same metric had him as an above average offensive player however. Defensively, there’s reason to expect slight regression as well, since next season would be an additional two years of age taking away from his athleticism. Attached below is a compilation of his most recent season, you can see plenty of mid ranges and iso shots, but a lot of value in open looks:
All of this taken into account, it does seem apparent that Melo should be on the roster of a team that needs offense from their wings. There are a few teams that come to mind, and each of them are in different situations in which Melo could provide minutes and an offensive boost.
1: Golden State Warriors
With the departure of both Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, the Small Forward spot is a vacuum, waiting to be filled by 7 minute-per-game Alfonzo McKinnie, and potentially Alec Burks, who is really more of a guard. With how many open shots the Warriors generate, Carmelo could come off the bench behind McKinnie (He fills a defensive vacuum), to put up points against bench units. If willing to take a minimum salary to fit in the Warriors last roster spot, he could help boost a Golden State team which could still make big noise come playoff time
2: Orlando Magic
The Magic would be a good place for Carmelo to take a bench scoring role. This also depends on how much of a playoff push that Orlando wants to make. Here, Melo would take the backup 3 spot behind Jonathan Isaac. He could provide spacing on the floor during minutes when him and Aaron Gordon are on the floor. Currently, Wesley Iwundu is slated to take most of these minutes, and in his first two seasons, has make a minimal impact. Iwundu is a very good defender, but offers virtually nothing offensively. To take another step towards the playoffs, the Magic could take a chance on Melo at minimum salary to add bench scoring.
3: Miami Heat
The Heat seem to be stocking up to make a playoff run, making a sign and trade deal with the 76’ers for Jimmy Butler. This fit depends on how Justice Winslow is used, potentially as starting small forward next to Butler at the two. Alternatively, they may opt to start Dion Waiters (or Tyler Herro if he shows that he’s capable), and move Butler to the forward spot, leaving Winslow as likely the backup point guard behind Dragic. Either way, there’s a very big need for bench scoring. No one on the current projected bench posted more than 8 PPG last season. For a team aiming for a playoff spot, there needs to be more offense in the second unit, and Herro, while very good, is still a rookie and somewhat of a risk. Currently slated as backup 3 is uber-athletic Derrick Jones Jr, who is a good defensive piece, but adds little outside of dunking offensively. Fortunately, with Jones, he has a lot of positional versatility, capable of playing anywhere from the 2 to the 4. If Miami decided that they need more bench offense (Which they do), then they have the flexibility to slide Melo in at the three, and play Jones elsewhere depending on matchup.
4: Detroit Pistons
The Pistons, last year’s Eastern 8th seed, are gunning for another playoff run this year, acquiring Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, and Tony Snell. The latter of this group is expected to start at the small forward, coming off of a year posting 6 points per game, with about average defense. Their starting rotation is projected to change slightly, with last year’s starting 3, Luke Kennard, sliding to start at the shooting guard position. This team is one on which Carmelo could even theoretically start, with Tony Snell not having much over him in any category. Snell shoots at a slightly better pace, but in significantly less volume. Last year, the starting two for the Pistons was Wayne Ellington, a sharpshooter with mediocre defense. If they want Kennard to be in the starting lineup, placing Melo to start at the three spot would be a great replacement for the shooting lost in Ellington, which keeps good spacing for their top tier frontcourt.
Any team which needs bench wing scoring could use Carmelo Anthony, even accounting for his lackluster defense. These four teams have the most demand for his skills. An aging Carmelo can still produce in the NBA, and contribute to a roster in the playoff mix.
Head of The Talk Sports Media.