No Bench for Melo…Yet

Carmelo Anthony has started all1,054 games he’s played in during his 15-year career. He has never considered coming off the bench, even if it would help his team. He is a starter and still considers himself a starter. Which is why his answer to the question “will you be willing to come off the bench” for the Houston Rockets is “no, not yet.”

Last April, when Royce Young of ESPN.com asked Carmelo is he was willing to come off the bench to help his team (at that point, the Oklahoma City Thunder) win, his response was simple:

“I’m not sacrificing no bench role, so that’s out of the question.”

And his response remained fairly similar when asked about coming off the bench for Houston. As per Jemele Hill of The Undefeated, this was Melo’s response to the infamous bench question:

“I know how to play this game of basketball. I’ve been playing it for a long time. When I feel like I’m ready to take that role, then I’ll take that role. Only I know when it’s best for me to take that role. I’m not going to do that in a situation where I still know my capabilities and what I can do. And at the end of the day, the people who really matter know my capabilities and what I can still do. You start getting to the media and debates, it’s going to always be kind of back-and-forth.”

Melo no question can still provide an offense with explosive talent and knockdown jump shooting, as he’s been doing for 15 years. But it’s no doubt that his production has tanked since last season. During his tenure with the Thunder, he shot a career-low 16.2 PPG (the first time in his whole career he’s averaged less than 20 PPG in a single season) to go along with a career low 40.4% from the floor. He also averaged a career low 1.3 SPG, and shot a career low 76.7% from the free-throw line. So the numbers tell a different story than what Melo said in his interview, and maybe it is time for him to at least consider that role as a 6th man, or the leader of a bench unit, especially if it’ll help him finally win that elusive ring he’s been chasing since 2003.

Whatever the Rockets executives believe is best for the team is what they will do, and if that means having Melo come off the bench, then they will press him to at least try it out. His mindset is very linear: he believes he is a starter and will only accept a bench role if he’s comfortable with it. But sometimes, players must do things that they aren’t familiar with or used to in order to help their team win. For example, LeBron James will be playing center in one possible lineup for the Lakers next season. Magic Johnson played center during game 6 of the 1980 NBA finals, despite being a point guard, and went on to win the championship in that very game. If the Rockets want any chance at competing with the defending champion Golden State Warriors next season, it may be in Melo’s best interest to listen to the staff and follow as they say, and if that means leading the bench unit, he should consider doing it.

My name is Matthew Geyman. I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Baltimore Ravens, but really just enjoy watching and playing any sports (although I'm best at golf and basketball). I play electric guitar and my genre of choice (both for listening and playing) is heavy metal. In my free time, I like to read and play video games. My favorite books tend to be those of Greek mythology, although any book that is captivating is certainly going to interest me. As for video games, I delve into a wide spectrum, from sports games to adventure games to racing games. I also have a great passion for American history and enjoy reading primary documents or sources whenever given the opportunity.

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