Does Carmelo Anthony fit as a Laker? The answer cuts both ways.
But, let’s talk about the NBA Finals.
The San Antonio Spurs are slicing up the Miami Heat. People will say that it’s because Dwyane Wade has a bad knee and Chris Bosh isn’t playing like his franchise-self. Still, LeBron James is the best player in the planet, but even he alone, can’t recover the Miami Heat in the Finals.
How are the Spurs doing it?
The Spurs have great talent across the board. LeBron James can take them all one-on-one. He can’t take them all one-on-five. Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard both have the height and length to keep up with LeBron James defensively. He may get his points, but the rest of the team is shut down.
Have you seen the ball-movement? Scoring off-the-dribble is one of the lowest percentage shots on the floor. The greatest percentage shots are points underneath the basket or catch-and-shoot situations. People who pay attention to the NBA Finals, will see that almost every 3-point shot is a catch-and-shoot situation. Shots, such as floaters or pull-up shots from midrange, are rarely taken. That ball movement is prided on teamwork. Every Spur player has had a chance to shine, and no one player has stood out from the team.
Kobe Bryant can be a ball-stopper. So can Carmelo Anthony. The difference between the two, is Bryant is capable of creating plays for teammates. Kobe Bryant, plays defense. The half-court offense of the Lakers isn’t as fluid, dynamic, and disciplined as the current Spurs team, but Bryant is willing to do it. Carmelo Anthony had his chances in Denver. He had his chances in New York. There are a few games where he’ll have seven assists in a game. That effort isn’t consistent.
Both Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are deadly from mid-range. But, mid-range shots are considered low percentage shots. It’s useful to have an isolation player from mid-range when the offensive play is broken and a decent shot at the basket needs to be created. Two isolation players from that range may be too much. Scottie Pippen facilitated to Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant facilitated to Shaquille O’Neal. Pau Gasol facilitated to Kobe Bryant. Who is going to facilitate to Carmelo Anthony? Kobe Bryant? Who is going to facilitate to Kobe Bryant? Carmelo Anthony?
The Lakers are in need of a franchise-talent scorer. In order to make that work, the team needs to be built around that particular player. People overlook how mindblowing Kobe Bryant was in the 2010 Finals against Boston. Boston had Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. Each of them, at one time or another, were considered franchise talents. The Lakers had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. The rest of the players were role players that succeeded in what they did best. Shannon Brown added team speed to get into transition. Metta World Peace added toughness on both ends of the court. Andrew Bynum added solidarity in the paint on both ends of the floor. Lamar Odom became the stretch-four for the Lakers, and was a key defensive player.
In order to make Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant work well as a duo, someone on the team has to be a consumate playmaker. The 1972 Laker team did it. They had ran a simplified version of the triangle offense with Wilt Chamberlain as a defensive player and playmaker. Gail Goodrich and Jerry West were the leading scorers. Both of them averaged 26 points per game. Both, averaged 20 shots per game. Wilt, on the other hand, averaged 15 points per game and 19 rebounds per game.
Carmelo Anthony would fit as a Laker. The Laker team just needs to find the third guy to make it all work. That kind of player must be completely unselfish, create plays for teammates naturally, and have 3-point range just to maintain spacing for Bryant and Anthony in the halfcourt. That guy needs to be a total defensive anchor, with passing abilities in the half-court set.
That guy isn’t a Laker. I can’t see Anthony being a Laker, either.