The Houston Rockets are trying to load up their team this offseason by surrounding James Harden with other star players. They’ve already completed a deal for former Clippers point guard Chris Paul. They’ve made it known that they’re now going after New York Knicks star, Carmelo Anthony.
When the Rockets made the move to acquire Chris Paul, I had questions about how he’d fit along side James Harden. Now that the Rockets are trying to acquire Carmelo Anthony, I once again have questions about this fit.
The reason I’m unsure about the Chris Paul and James Harden fit, is because both guards are ball dominant. They’re used to being the guy who has the ball in their hands. What if you throw in another ball dominate player?
Carmelo Anthony is used to being the star player. He’s always been the guy who has the ball in his hands. Earlier in his career, Carmelo Anthony was able to help his team win as the primary ball handler. Recently that hasn’t been the case. In seven seasons with the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony has led them to an overall record of 249-309 (44.6%). In those seven seasons, the Knicks have been to the playoffs three times. Those three playoff appearances came in the first three seasons. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs in four straight years. The style of basketball Carmelo likes to play just doesn’t work anymore.
If he became part of this Rockets team, Carmelo Anthony would have to change the way he plays the game. Anthony has always been a good offensive player. He’s never averaged less than 20 points per game, but he’s done that as a player who dominates the ball. He would often creating his own shots, which resulted in a lot of bad looks and a lot of losses.
If you put Carmelo on the same team as Chris Paul and James Harden, they can create shots for him. Anthony shot 43.3% from the field and 35.9% from behind the 3pt line last season. With Paul and Harden creating the shots, it will only make things easier for Anthony. Let the two All-Star guards take all the attention, and then get your shot. Anthony could still be a 20+ point scorer, but he’ll need to do it in a different way than he’s used to.
I trust Chris Paul and James Harden as primary ball handlers. They’ve proven they can win like that. I don’t trust Carmelo Anthony as that kind of player. If Anthony goes to the Rockets and tries to play the same style of basketball he’s currently playing, things won’t turn out well for this team. All three of these stars would have to learn to trust each other.
Look at the Warriors for example. They have three offensive stars in Curry, Durant, and Thompson. They work so well together because they don’t care who’s taking the shot. They trust each other. They create for each other. They shoot when it’s their turn to shoot, and they pass when it’s not. The only way a roster consisting of Chris Paul, James Harden, and Carmelo Anthony would work out, is if they can play a similar style of basketball.
Trading for Carmelo Anthony has the potential to be a great move for the Rockets, but it also has the potential to be a disaster. Can he learn to change the style of basketball he’s played throughout his entire career? Could these three ball dominant players coexist? It may take some time to adjust to playing with each other, but in the end I see them making the right adjustments to be successful.