Consider this more of a personal rant.
Carmelo scored 62 points on 23 of 35 shooting from the field against the Charlotte Bobcats. Kobe Bryant has jaded me, and for some reason, I just wasn’t as impressed.
Carmelo and Kobe Bryant lead different career trajectories. Kobe was on a talent-laden team early on, fortunate enough to be taught by one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, learned how to play defense in pick and roll situations from Gary Payton during an All-Star break, and the rest was history. He was defending point guards, sharing the basketball with Shaquille O’Neal, and winning championships all the while. Even when things were uncertain in Los Angeles, whether it was the relationship between him and Shaq, off-the-court troubles, or health issues, Laker fans were spoiled by outstanding performances and were always confident that the Lakers would be able to compete at a championship level.
Carmelo is on the flip side of things. He played for the Nuggets, a strong playoff team that the Lakers seemed to meet every year. He was dominant in isolation situations within the halfcourt set. He was consistently on 50-win teams for Denver, but couldn’t get over the hump. It can be argued that Denver had more athletic talent than the Lakers back then, but didn’t know how to exploit it so well. Still, of those Denver teams, there was little interest in improving defense, making teammates better, and becoming more of a playmaker.
Instead he went back home to New York, where hopefully, the hometown feeling could help light a fire within. While he had a great season on a 54 win team for the Knicks last year, he’s overshadowed by LeBron James and his team. His 3-point percentage went up, but in terms of overall improvement, he’s still the same player, taking the same shots, and not facilitating to the team like he should. Once in awhile, he’ll give fans a glimmer of hope with the occasional 8-assist game, but otherwise, it’s nothing to write home about.
Carmelo Anthony is in his NBA prime. He needs the right coaching. He needs the right team around him. He isn’t as adaptable to other rosters in terms of blending in. Kobe Bryant went from a 6th man, to starting as a SF, to an elite shooting guard, to blending in with names such as Gary Payton and Karl Malone for #1 in the Pacific Division, despite all of the injuries of that season. Carmelo never had to adapt, and the one time he had a chance to among Linsanity, he sulked, and wasn’t the same player.
The Chicago Bulls may be a better destination. Tom Thibodeau is exactly the kind of defensive coach that is reminiscent of the 90’s Knicks teams. The Bulls team plays above their talent level with hard work and defense, and their wins show up for it. It’s understandable why Chicago would be ranked over Los Angeles as a possible destination, but for me, I’m holding out for a player that is continuously trying to improve; a guy who won the 3-point shooting contest during the All-Star break, a guy who lost over 20lbs. to get into better shape and become among the league’s leading rebounders, a guy who understands what it is to be a Laker player, and it shows through his own development, a guy who shoots better from the field and behind the arc.
His name though, is Kevin Love.