After what felt like an eternity of “will they, won’t they,” the New York Knicks finally traded Carmelo Anthony. The 33-year-old now finds himself in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform alongside reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and four-time all-star Paul George.
Melo has the ability to take over games in iso but he has never worked with so much talent around him. Yes, the 2008-09 Denver Nuggets had great players in Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups but Westbrook and George are undeniably two of the 15 best players in the NBA.
With that many ball-dominant players in the starting lineup, it’s fair to wonder just how Anthony will do in OKC. Anthony has never averaged less than 20 points per game during his 14 seasons in the NBA. But that can’t possibly continue, can it?
We’ve seen Westbrook work with other superstar offensive players before in Kevin Durant and James Harden. Westbrook is plenty capable of driving the lane and kicking it outside for the open look but he is also capable of stopping the ball and making the offense all about him. It will likely take some time to adjust to having other threats in the lineup following last season’s one-man attack on the record books.
Of course, George will also be eating up some of the looks. However, if any of the new big three in OKC is going to alter their game it is likely PG13. He is a better defender than both Westbrook and Anthony while also being a bigger threat from outside the arc. If anyone is going to get the Klay Thompson treatment in OKC, it is George.
So that brings us back to Anthony. What is he going to be asked to do in Oklahoma City? Anthony isn’t the spry chicken he used to be and his footwork has been getting slower. He has seen his number of shots drop off the past two seasons with Kristaps Porzingis becoming a bigger focal point for the Knicks. He seemed relatively OK with this but Anthony has always battled with indifference and seeing another decrease in his looks might not go over well.
Oddsmakers seem to think Anthony will see a decrease in his looks and scoring with the O/U for his points per game set at 17.5 (-130/-110) entering the campaign.