For an idea of how Carmelo Anthony’s debut with the Trail Blazers went last night, look no further than this tweet from former-fellow-exile Nick Young:
Indeed, Carmelo was not eased into anything. In his first NBA action since November, 2018, he started (and even nailed his first 3-pointer) before taking on the persona of his suddenly sad and stuck new team.
The game ended in a 115-104 loss to the Pelicans, dropping the Western Conference finalists of a year ago to 5-10.
‘Melo’s final line:
10 PTS | 4 REB | 0 AST | 5 TO | 4-14 FG | Minus-20 | One failed attempt at posterizing Jaxson Hayes
[Watch: Carmelo Anthony's full lowlights]
As talented as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are, the ball-stopping style they promote hasn’t been helping. Per NBA.com’s advanced stats, Portland makes the second-fewest passes per game (235.7, down from 281.7 last year) and is last in the league in assists (18.7).
Houston, the team with the fewest passes per game (235.2), also has perhaps the greatest isolation player ever in James Harden, and another good one in Russell Westbrook.
Right now, Harden is averaging 16.2 points per game in isolation plays, which leads the league by more than 10 points.
Lillard is third, at 5.1, and McCollum is 11th, at 2.9 per game.
As a team, Portland is scoring 11.2 iso points per game, a distant second to the Rockets’ 22.1.
So, unlike Houston, Portland, without its play-making big man, seems stuck between styles, over-committing to an iso-heavy offense without much gumption or belief. 2009 Carmelo would have been a perfect remedy for that; 2019 Carmelo, though, is not.
The Blazers are also only 21st in defensive rating, which has helped lead to some confounding losses to other average or bad teams like San Antonio, Golden State, Sacramento and New Orleans.
The clock’s already ticking for them; Carmelo was only ever going to be a stopgap, but perhaps someone like Kevin Love could help jumpstart Portland.
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