A 10-time All-Star and former scoring champion, Carmelo Anthony is viewed as one of the greatest players of his generation. However, the former Syracuse standout was away from the NBA for roughly one year following an abbreviated stint with the Houston Rockets in the 2018-19 campaign. He was itching to get back into the league, to be sure. So when the Portland Trail Blazers offered him a one-year deal in November, he accepted.
So far, Portland’s acquisition of Anthony has paid off — maybe even more than team management had expected. With a chance to revitalize his career, the 35-year-old is making the most of this opportunity.
“I always kept my eye on Portland,” Anthony said shortly after joining the Blazers, via KGW News. “It just didn’t work out at other times, but now it seems like a perfect opportunity.”
Anthony has played well for the Blazers thus far, and he’s proven that he still has the ability to drain clutch shots. In fact, Melo knocked down a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line with four seconds remaining in Tuesday night’s game to give Portland a 101-99 victory over the Raptors. It was the 17th go-ahead shot of his career, which is the most of any player since 2003-04.
Anthony’s numbers are up from seasons past, though they aren’t what they were when he was the focal point of a team’s offense. Still, he’s been a solid contributor. In his 23 appearances with the Blazers, he’s racked up averages of 16.5 points on 43.5 percent shooting from the field (41.1 percent from beyond the arc), 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 31.9 minutes per outing.
Damian Lillard (26.9 points per game) and CJ McCollum (21.9) are leading the Blazers in scoring, but Anthony is right there in third (16.5). Notably, Melo is leading Portland in steals, and he’s second in rebounds. Furthermore — and maybe more importantly — he seems to be enjoying his role in Portland.
“We’re seeing a different Melo,” Bulls legend Scottie Pippen recently said on ESPN’s First Take. “We’re seeing a better Melo. We’re seeing a guy that’s more mature, and his game has come full circle. I think he’s a better teammate.”
The revival seems to be in motion for Anthony, who admits that he almost detached himself from the game during his one-year hiatus. Once he got the call from the Blazers, he flipped the proverbial switch:
“I had almost detached myself from the game a little bit – just to get myself some sanity and not think about it,” Anthony said, via Fansided. “But, once I got that call, the challenge was for me to just flip that back mentally.”
The Blazers are being viewed as a playoff contender by most experts, but there have been a few bumps in their path this season, including a recent five-game losing streak. They’ve racked up a 16-22 overall record thus far, which is currently ranked 10th in the Western Conference standings.
Portland will be back in action on Thursday night, when they’ll face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip-off inside the Target Center is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Blazers are 5-3 when Melo scores 20 or more, according to ESPN. Let’s see if that’s what it takes to keep his team on the right track.