Carmelo Anthony’s Mindset Should Be The Most Important Aspect To The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Season

Earlier today, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported that the New York Knicks agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder; for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and Chicago’s 2018 second-round draft pick. Although Carmelo joining the team seems like a move that would help them; reach the conference finals to compete with the Warriors, that is not necessarily the case as it depends on what mindset he brings to Oklahoma City.

Throughout last season the Thunder implemented an offensive system that is centered around the post up as well as the pick and roll. For instance, Russell Westbrook would bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes the ball to one of the big men in the low post. If the big man only sees one defender guarding him, he would attempt to back down the defender with one of his shoulders until he reaches a spot where he would try a jump hook, layup or dunk. However, if there is more than one defender on him, he would pass it back out to the perimeter which is what the other team wants. This is because the Thunder are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league thus opposing teams will put themselves under the three-point line which encourages them to shoot.

Occasionally Billy Donovan would tell the team to run a pick and roll where Russell Westbrook brings the ball up to the three-point line and then a big man setting a screen. Once the screen is established Russell Westbrook would pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Russell Westbrook would go over the pick and take the wide open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Russell Westbrook would go over the screen as well and drive towards the basket where he would score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not. However, in most instances, the defender will go underneath the screen because the opposing team is aware that the Thunder are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league. As a result, Russell is forced to make a difficult decision on whether to shoot a three that he is most likely going to miss or take a heavily contested shot near the basket.

As a result of this, the mindset of Carmelo Anthony should determine how successful the Thunder’s season will be. If he refuses to change his style of play, the team would be in a similar predicament to last season. This is because Carmelo likes to receive the ball in the mid to low block and proceed to shoot a turnaround jumper, or he faces the defender to shoot over him. Although on occasion he will back down the defender onto the edge of the paint and perform a spin move to create space for a layup. However, the post up would restrict the movement of the ball handler. For instance, if the ball handler got past the screen, the defense wouldn’t have to collapse on him because Carmelo’s defender can easily rotate over to him. As a result, the ball handler would have to take a mid-range jumper or hope that the defender can’t get back to Carmelo before a pass gets to him.

Therefore it would behoove the team to convince him into becoming a spot-up shooter that is in charge of making wide open shots when his defender is collapsing on the ball handler. If he is successful, the defender will have to stay close to him which gives the ball handler more open space to attack the basket and score. However, if he is unhappy or unable to be effective in the role, the team will most likely transition him into a sixth man role where he will be the primary scoring option for the second unit thus he can shoot whenever he wants while the starters are resting.

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