When the Oklahoma City Thunder added Carmelo Anthony to a team with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, they expected a stellar offense.
Anthony has instead put up a career-worst mark for points per game and the team has struggled to outscore their opponents. Perhaps one reason why the former Knicks star scorer has been unable to succeed is that he is playing a different style than ever before.
During the 2013-14 season, Anthony dribbled 2.25 times per touch and averaged a remarkable 27.4 points per game. He was injured the next season but when he returned for a full campaign, he dribbled 1.90 times per touch. Last year, his dribble rate dropped to 1.75 times per touch.
Anthony now averages less than one dribble per touch (0.98) so far this season.
As he has gotten older, he has controlled the offense less often and he is now relegating the way he once dominated the game. Many were excited to watch the next chapter of his career as a pure shooter.
This might be because the 33-year-old basketball player is no spring chicken and wants to run with the ball less often. It may also be due to the fact he now must share the ball with two other star-caliber players and has tried to find a niché.
Regardless, this has corresponded to him becoming more reliant on catch-and-shoot (6.8 per game) attempts for 41.9 percent of his total shots. For comparison, Anthony took catch-and-shoot attempts on 24.1 percent of his total shots during the 2015-16 season. Last year, that increased to 28.1 percent of his field goal attempts.
It’s no surprise his signature one-dribble pull-up shot has suffered since he was traded to the Thunder. Defenders are able to lock in on what he will do as his game has become less dynamic. When he is more predictable, he is easier to guard.
Because he plays with Westbrook and George, he’s no longer the leader of his offense. Unfortunately for his team, it has not translated to him becoming the third-option shooter they would have wanted.