It didn’t take long for Carmelo Anthony to make his presence felt with the Lakers.
Just weeks into his 19th NBA season, Anthony has transitioned seamlessly into a new role with a new team, averaging 16.7 points and 3.9 rebounds on efficient splits.
Even at 37, Anthony is still finding ways to fill it up on offense, a reminder that you don’t become a top-10 scorer of all time without a natural ability to get a bucket. And you don’t earn a selection as one of the 75 greatest players in the history of the league if you can’t adapt.
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As Carmelo looks to play a big role in the Lakers’ pursuit of their 18th NBA title, three relatively sustainable stats define his hot start to the season.
16.7 points per game
As mentioned above, Anthony is a natural-born scorer, evidenced by his career average of 22.9 points per game over 19 seasons.
Be that as it may, Anthony took a step back as a scorer once he was traded away from the Knicks in 2017. Before joining the Lakers, Anthony appeared in a total of 215 games with the Thunder (78), Rockets (10) and Trail Blazers (127), a span in which he averaged 14.9 points while shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from 3-point range.
That said, Anthony increasing his scoring average to 16.7 points per game early on is less of a surprise and more of a product of his fit in Los Angeles. With a number of playmakers and talented players that demand the attention of the defense, Anthony has been able to reap the benefits of being the teammate of Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
Because his scoring average isn’t a major spike from years past, it feels like something Anthony will be able to keep up.
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50.0 percent shooting
While Anthony’s scoring average is his highest since the 2016-17 season, his efficiency is the highest of his career. Entering this season, Anthony had not shot better than 48.0 percent from the field since the 2007-08 campaign, in which he shot a career-best 49.2 percent from the field.
With age and experience comes wisdom, and Anthony’s efficiency appears to be a product of his working smarter, not harder.
Anthony’s talent gives him the ability to be a tough-shot maker, but his experience is what keeps him from relying on said tough looks to get his offense. The 50.0 percent mark might seem lofty, and the number itself isn’t what needs to be sustained.
So long as Anthony maintains the same approach that has led to this efficiency, the percentages will stay high and the Lakers’ offense will reap the benefits.
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20 catch-and-shoot 3s
Small sample size alert!
Take a snapshot through Anthony’s first seven games and you’ll see he’s leading the NBA with 20 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, which he’s knocked down at a 50.0 percent clip. It’s early, but that figure places him among the likes of Stephen Curry, Joe Harris and Buddy Hield, among others.
A closer look shows that of those 3s, Westbrook (8) and James (6) have assisted on 14 (or 70 percent) of them, adding to the idea of sustainability moving forward. Given their ability to get downhill and cause defenses to converge, James and Westbrook can continue to set Anthony up for 3s.
Adding to that point, 40 of Anthony’s first 46 (87.0 percent) 3-point attempts were considered open or wide open, per NBA.com Stats, meaning there were no defenders within four feet of him on the shot attempt.
Anthony shooting above 50.0 percent from 3-point range this season is probably not sustainable, but should he continue to get such high-quality looks, he’ll continue to connect at a high clip.
Having a knockdown shooter is a key component to any successful LeBron-led team and they have just that in Anthony. His ability to score in other ways serves as an added bonus.