Carmelo Anthony’s first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder is turning out to be one of the worst years he has ever had as a professional basketball player. The 10-time NBA All-Star has so far fallen short of all expectations as he is becoming nothing more than “a bench guy,” an anonymous league executive said.
When the 33-year-old was traded by the New York Knicks to the Thunder in September of last year, Anthony knew that he would have to yield and become the team’s third option behind Russell Westbrook and Paul George. However, despite embracing the role, he still has not been a “perfect fit” to the squad, per Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.
Fans and analysts alike had high expectations on the former NBA scoring champ as they imagined him to play like “Olympic Melo,” which is said to be Anthony’s “devastating version” that played a key role in Team USA’s Olympic gold medal wins in 2008, 2012, and 2016. That has not been the case so far.
In 71 games this season, Anthony averaged career-lows of 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.6 steals in 32.2 minutes per game for head coach Billy Donovan. His less than stellar production has reportedly kept OKC from asserting itself in the West, although the team is currently fourth in the standings behind the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Portland Trail Blazers.
Bontemps cited an unnamed NBA executive as saying that even at his best, Anthony has now become more of a substitute player than a regular starter.
“I just don’t think he (Anthony) fits. Carmelo now at his best, and this isn’t taking anything away from his prior accomplishments, he’s a bench guy.”
What is even more shocking are the emerging rumors that Donovan might eventually opt to bring Anthony off the bench in the playoffs, something which Anthony has not yet done in his whole 16-year career.
Having a bench role is expected to annoy Anthony, especially after he laughed off the possibility of it actually happening in one of his interviews prior to the season.
In a separate Washington Post article Josh Planos said that “it would be in Oklahoma City’s best interest to consider bringing Anthony off the pine.” Looking at his statistical history, the former Syracuse standout’s game has actually been declining since the 2012-2013 season, and it may have just been so evident this year that the idea of him becoming a substitute player has already surfaced.