What's even harder for a basketball player to become an NBA pro? To get back into the league when you were in, but then flew out. It does not help if you've been considered a superstar for a decade.
There's hardly a basketball pro who knows that as well as Carmelo Anthony. Anthony, 35, was one of the greats in the industry for years, then he was out. Now, after a long wait, the Portland Trail Blazers have signed him, during the night on Wednesday, against the New Orleans Pelicans, he could celebrate his debut (2 clock, Stream: Dazn).
It's been 375 days since Anthony was last on an NBA pitch. At that time he played for the Houston Rockets, in the match at Oklahoma City Thunder in November 2018, the small forward completed about 20 minutes. He met one of his eleven litters. It was only his tenth assignment for the Rockets, and it was to be his last.
Nobody wanted to have Anthony
After the match, he officially belonged to the team, but was no longer in the squad. Later, the Chicago Bulls agreed to a trade, but did not use Anthony once. He was released in early February to look for a new employer. But nobody wanted to have Anthony.
Now he has found a new club, the Trail Blazers, who were in the semi-finals last season - and now after 14 games of the season in twelfth place in the Western Conference. In view of the false start and several failures, the obligation can be regarded as a act of desperation. "Melo" has become an emergency solution from the superstar.
A classic individual artist
Despite his class, Anthony had little success in his career with his teams. His statistics and individual highlights gave him prominence and highly paid contracts. But while other superstars such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade celebrated titles and individual accolades, Anthony's sporting climax remained a club record set at the New York Knicks: 62 points in a game.
Five years ago today, @carmeloanthony scored 62 PTS ... the most scored points in the current MSG (since 1968)!
Last night, @ JHarden13 (61 PTS) tied @kobebryant for the 2nd-most points scored at the current MSG. #NBAVault pic.twitter.com/iOaMW4bufc
Anthony's great strength has always been the one-on-one. For smaller players, he played with his back to the basket, where he helped his beefy physique. Larger opponents were usually not quick enough to stop Anthony. Often, he only slightly twitched his foot in medium basket distance or tried it with Wurffinten, then abruptly squeeze off like a gunslinger.
However, his game has never been free from mistakes even at his successful times. Anthony was rarely able to influence the game defensively. His throwing rates were not outstanding, he was not very good at playing. Early in his career Anthony was attached to the reputation of a one-dimensional scorer who reluctantly relinquishes the ball.
Fallen out of time
It's exactly this type of player that teams do not want anymore. Statistics have proved the inefficiency of the middle distance throw, Anthony's specialty. Team play is more important than individual class. Unselfish and versatile on offense, NBA coaches nowadays expect that from their players.
HELLO PORTLAND pic.twitter.com/q5lf3e8UM3- Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) November 15, 2019
Nevertheless, his commitment to the Blazers makes sense. In Anthony's position, there is little quality in Portland anyway, plus long-term failures. In addition, the team does not take a high risk due to the unilaterally cancellable contract, it can replace Anthony any time, should the experiment fail.
With his 2.03 meters, Anthony can also be used as a power forward, and there is also the possibility that he has reconsidered his style of play in his involuntary break from the basketball. The challenge for him will be to play a smaller role than usual. That was not easy for him during his time in Oklahoma City; When he was asked at his presentation if he would come from the bank, he laughed and asked, "Who?"
The hierarchy in Portland is clear: Point Guard Damian Lillard is the best player and leader of the team, the number two is CJ McCollum. For years, the team has been offensive to the best, the most important factors in this: game flow and distance throw. Ideally, Anthony adapts, passes the ball quickly when he is not free, and struggles in defense. In the worst case, he slows down every move. Then Anthony could quickly lose his place in the NBA again.
In recent months, several NBA professionals have expressed their lack of understanding that no one offered Anthony a contract. "Of course he can still play in this league," said Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors in the summer, he was finally still "Melo".
Maybe that's the problem.