Blogtable Archive

Blogtable: Would the Oklahoma City Thunder benefit from shifting Carmelo Anthony into a bench role?

From Staff

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The Thunder would be better with Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench. Agree, or disagree?

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David Aldridge: Of course they would be, but the chances of that happening are roughly equivalent to that of Gigli II: This Time, It’s Worse. Someone e-mailed the same question to me in the Tip this week, and I recalled the story of Michael Jordan’s second and final year with the Wizards, in 2002-03. The year before, he’d gotten worn down and ultimately injured by playing too many minutes. As his second year began, everyone — including him — thought he’d be used best as a sixth man. It made all the sense in the world. Jerry Stackhouse was in his prime and he’d start at the two, get the other team into the penalty, and MJ would come in and clean up against reserves who couldn’t handle his…game. Again, everyone agreed on this, starting with Jordan. It lasted exactly 15 games. Coaches coach, Pat Riley used to say. And starters start.

Steve Aschburner: Said this at the start of the season, so put me down for “wholeheartedly agree.” Just as with Dwyane Wade in Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony from Day 1 in OKC was ripe for a role off the bench. Such a move would thin the herd of ball dominators out there to start each night and give him a green light to shoot and score in the minutes he does play. It wouldn’t hurt at this stage of his career to be playing against second-unit defenders, either. If we can’t get Olympics ‘Melo when he’s sharing the Thunder court with actual Team USA guys, we ought to be able to get Retro ‘Melo in the squint-a-little relative world of backups basketball.

Shaun Powell: That seems like the easy “let’s make a move for the sake of making a move” decision but I’m not sure what is accomplishes, other than bruising ‘Melo’s ego. Besides, the problem isn’t the start of OKC games, it’s the finish, when ‘Melo, Paul George and Russell Westbrook haven’t figured a way to make it work together and potential wins manage to slip away from them. That should be the focus, not bringing ‘Melo off the bench and into the game at the eight-minute mark of the first quarter.

John Schuhmann: Short answer: Yes. The Thunder have been at their best (plus-9.1 per 100 possessions in 196 minutes – not a huge sample size, of course) with Paul George and Russell Westbrook on the floor without Anthony. Still, Anthony doesn’t necessarily have to be on the bench at the start of the game to get that look for extended minutes. If that’s what they’re going for, the Thunder can just sub him out a few minutes into the half, and bring him back late in the first and third quarters to anchor the second unit. But for the last few weeks, George (not Anthony) has most often been the All-Star on the floor with the other two on the bench. Billy Donovan has also gone to a five-man bench unit for a few minutes here and there. In the seven December games that OKC has had all three All-Stars, Anthony has played less than seven total minutes with neither George or Russell Westbrook. But no matter how many All-Stars are on the floor, the Thunder need more ball movement and player movement if they’re going to climb out of the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency. Though they’re 7-3 this month, they’re far from finding a rhythm and still rank 24th offensively over those 10 games.

Sekou Smith: I think the Thunder would be better off with Carmelo working off the baseline and taking advantage of cross matches during games. He should be used differently no matter what, be it as a starter or otherwise. I think his spot in the starting lineup on this Thunder team is hardly the biggest issue and I can’t figure out why he should be the one to pay for a larger issue, which is a lack of sound structure for three All-Star talents to operate in on a consistent basis. There are clearly chemistry issues with OKC’s hoops holy trinity of ‘Melo, Paul George and Russell Westbrook. ‘Melo is is the easy target for scorn in this situation, same as he was in New York in a bad situation. The responsibility to straighten it out, however, is in Billy Donovan’s hands. He’s the man responsible for pulling this thing together, same as every coach who has been gifted a super team in recent seasons.