Despite successfully replacing Trevor Ariza with Carmelo Anthony, most people have doubt if the 10-time NBA All-Star will make the Houston Rockets a better team in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. Anthony has failed to make himself fit playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the result is expected to be the same now that he will team up with two other NBA superstars, James Harden and Chris Paul, in Houston.
Like his role in OKC, Carmelo Anthony is set to become the Rockets’ third scoring option next season. Anthony admitted that he had a hard time making adjustments with his new role which is proven by the huge drop in his statistics last season. In 78 games he played with the Thunder, Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
However, the Rockets have no plan to make the same mistake as the Thunder. More than a month before the 2018-19 NBA season, the Rockets already have an idea on how to maximize Anthony’s effectiveness on both ends of the floor. Unlike in OKC where he defended multiple positions, the Rockets are reportedly planning to play Anthony “exclusively at the power-forward position,” according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic.
“The Thunder did not do themselves any favors by playing Anthony at small-forward as much as he did. During the 2017-2018 season, Anthony spent only 44% of his time on the floor defending power-forwards, while 23% against small-forwards and 16% against centers. Sources told The Athletic that the Rockets will play Anthony exclusively at the power-forward position. This puts him in an optimal position defensively and somewhere he is used to from his time with the New York Knicks.”
According to David MacKay of Rockets Wire, exclusively playing at the power forward position will be beneficial for Carmelo Anthony. At 34, the veteran forward remains a reliable contributor on the offensive end of the floor, but he has already shown some signs of slowing down. Playing as a power forward will enable Anthony to be matched against larger and slower opponents, unlike when he plays as small forward where he will be guarding more agile players.
Pairing Carmelo Anthony with Clint Capela or Nene Hilario in the frontcourt will also help the Rockets address his defensive issues. However, as of now, it remains unknown whether Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni will include Anthony in their starting lineup or use him as their sixth man next season.