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Your nameplate says Mike D’Antoni, 2017 NBA Coach of the Year. So tell us Mr. D'Antoni, if Carmelo Anthony were to join your squad, what role does he play to give your team its best chance to win it all?
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David Aldridge: An enhanced Ryan Anderson role. Anderson has been the starter at the four for the Rockets most of the last two seasons, though that was reduced significantly last year. With Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute gone, Houston is in flux at the forward positions and likely to take a step back defensively. If that's the case, starting 'Melo at the four is a reasonable counter; strengthen the team's strength, which is scoring. If this has been in the works as long as it seems it's been, D'Antoni knows that there's not much difference defensively between Anthony and Anderson; neither is a shutdown guy. So, which guy would be better suited temperamentally to come off the bench? The guess here is Anderson. So start 'Melo, give him some midpost touches/catch and shoot threes with James Harden and Chris Paul creating open looks for him, bring Anderson and James Ennis off the bench and hope for the best.
Steve Aschburner: I’d say to Carmelo, “Do you remember that role you filled for Team USA, when you were both highly effective and highly praised as a teammate for your willingness to defer to the accomplishments and reputations of the others? Do you remember how well things went for everyone when you came off the bench with a green light to score? That’s how you we want to use you -- as our sixth man -- because that’s the best thing for us (frankly, it’s the only way you’ll actually help us) and it’s the best thing at this point in your career for you.” Then I’d wait to find out if Anthony really, truly wants to slog through the 2018-19 season for $2.4 million.
Tas Melas: You think the Rockets iso’d a lot last year? Mike D’Antoni showed he’s fine letting guys show their skills one-on-one because his coaching style is to adapt to the strengths of his team. A starting unit with Chris Paul, James Harden, and Carmelo Anthony will look for their own plenty. In a perfect world, Melo is the team’s first-and third-quarter sniper, allowing Harden to save more of his energy for the fourth quarter, where he didn’t execute in the postseason, and to also save Chris Paul’s aging legs. Let’s call 'Melo "The Ziploc Bag" because he keeps James Harden fresh (everything is rosy, perfect and hasn’t failed in the summer). The other end is the bigger issue and I wonder how many games 'Melo will close out. I’d guess D’Antoni relies more on Harden and CP3 late and goes with more of a defensive-type -- maybe James Ennis – in Melo’s place.
Shaun Powell: Carmelo has only played one role in his basketball life and we're not sure he can do that at a high degree anymore. Also, consider that he largely failed in OKC when paired with a ball-dominating guard, and guess what? In Houston he has another ball-dominating guard! As a secondary option, 'Melo's ego and fading skills can't cope. Until last season, he has never not been "the guy" since age 10 and we saw what happened when asked to adjust. The hope for D'Antoni -- who didn't get along with 'Melo in New York -- is Chris Paul. He is close friends with 'Melo, can rewire 'Melo and get him to accept being No. 3 without allowing that to infect his energy and outlook.
John Schuhmann: Whether he starts or not isn't too important. He's probably not a part of my most used or most dependable lineup. When we need a defensive stop, he's not on the floor. He's a play finisher and not a playmaker or a ball-stopper, fourth on the team -- behind James Harden, Chris Paul and Eric Gordon -- in regard to creation. The percentage of his jump shots that are catch-and-shoot jumpers and the percentage of his jump shots that are 3-point attempts don't need to be at Trevor Ariza levels (79 percent and a league-high 98 percent, respectively), but they need to be much higher than they were for Anthony last season (53 percent and 49 percent). That being said, he will be able to bail us out of the occasional late-clock possession more than any of our other forwards did last season.
Sekou Smith: Let's put to rest all of the drama of before, 'Melo. New York. Oklahoma City. Your reluctance to come off the bench and your supposed penchant for all things 'Melo over the greater good. I want to show you this highlight tape from London in 2012. Who is this monster, this scoring machine coming off the bench for the US Men's Senior National Team, turning games upside down in a matter of minutes? That's you, big fella. This is what you can do for us in Houston. You can be the spark that lights our flame off the bench, the guy who proves to be the final piece to our championship puzzle playing exactly the way you did in London. It's still in you. I believe it. And you have to believe it, too. You bring that focus and determination and we're going to be riding in a parade in June.