Carmelo Anthony is rapidly advancing as a true sixth man candidate for the 2021-22 year.
This might have been out of the question a few years ago, but it’s now becoming a reality as the veteran star continues to thrive after accepting a role-playing future.
Anthony’s story is well told. Pulled out of NBA obscurity by the injury-ridden Portland Trail Blazers two seasons ago, Anthony was desperate to return to the NBA floor, even if it meant he had to give up the iconic role he had played throughout his career.
Two seasons with the Blazers led Anthony to the Lakers roster flowing with some of the notable names the game has had to deliver over the past decade. Instead of trying to get into a fight where and how to get his touch, Milo simply entered the second unit, taking what came his way in an attack that often fizzled out elsewhere.
The veteran exploded for 24 points off the bench in the win over the Cavaliers, defeating six three of his eight attempts.
“He’s one of the best players in the league,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s been a professional goalscorer all his career.”
“To his credit, he’s really gone on to be an elite guy who picks and shoots and has a good size who can shoot with a hand in the face. 6 vs 8 out of three, lots of massive bulldozers, big part of the win.”
As is the nature of playing alongside players like LeBron, Ross and AD, Milo finds his attempts to shoot in open spaces bode well for his continued success on this offense.
Entering the game against Cleveland, Anthony was attempting 5.0 catches and shoots in one game, resulting in a 40 percent loss. Anthony shot 40.2 percent of those attempts in 2019-20 and 39.8 percent last season.
Perhaps most importantly, NBA.com Tracking Data 5.0 out of 6.0 shows his 3-point attempts per game rated as wide open or wide.
“I just found my place, and I find my position on the court,” Anthony said. “LeBron did a great job reading the field, seeing where everyone was and knowing where the players were on the field. Today he did a great job finding me.”
With an average of 15.7 points per game through six, Anthony’s average scoring is the highest since his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017-18.
Fury against the Caves is the second time Anthony has hit six triples in a game this season, with the first game in a 28-point night coming against Memphis. The Lakers won that game against the Grizzlies and like tonight’s game against Cleveland, they needed each of their “three to the dome” celebrations.
Milo recently beat Moses Malone on the all-time scoring list to finish ninth. It’s been a chaotic few years for Anthony, but there are only eight players in league history who have scored more points, and Shaquille O’Neal is also likely to jump this season at the current pace.
Anthony is a weapon off the bench in this offense, and it should only become more of that as the Lakers build chemistry with the rest of the players.
More than anything, we should appreciate watching Anthony extend his career in a role he never had to do in his entire football career.