The Houston Rockets and Carmelo Anthony are discussing his role within the organization as the team is off to a concerning, slow start.
While some have blamed Anthony for their issues and his roster spot is now in question, others believe he is being mismanaged.
Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen believes that Anthony needs to spend more time on offense near the basket in order to get easier buckets (via The Jump):
“You look at those shots Carmelo is shooting, they’re very low percentage shots. He has to get in the paint and get himself going, get a better rhythm.
Pippen was correct in his observation: Anthony has just 12 paint touches, equivalent to 3.7 percent of the times he has had the ball so far this season. The first year this was tracked back in 2013-14, nearly 5.0 percent of his total touches were in the paint.
The following season, although he only appeared in half of the games due to injury, that rate jumped to 5.9 percent. While the Rockets have used Anthony most often on the perimeter, it’s clear he has been far more effective for them when playing closer to the basket.
Anthony is averaging 1.41 points per possession when posting up so far this season. According to Synergy Sports, that ranks as the best overall among all qualified players so far this season. The forward has barely missed when he is posting play type, shooting 15-for-19 (78.9 percent) through 10 games.
Only four others in the league (minimum: 10 attempts) are shooting at least 70 percent when posting up.
But he is getting just 2.2 possessions per game on post-ups, equivalent to just 15.7 percent of his possessions. For comparison, Anthony has been used as a spot-up shooter on more than 25 percent of his offensive finishes even though his efficiency on spot ups has ranked average in the league.
You can see his frequency dip when playing for current head coach Mike D’Antoni on the New York Knicks from 2010 until 2012. And then when Mike Woodson and then Derek Fisher took over in New York, Anthony was posting up on more than 20 percent of his possessions for four consecutive seasons. Several times during his career, he has been among the best when posting up.
But his frequency has dropped over the last couple seasons as the league has moved away from this type of offense. Houston has posted up on 3.4 percent of their offensive possessions through eleven games. That’s lower than every team in the Western Conference except the Utah Jazz.
They ran post-ups on just 2.4 percent of possessions last year, which ranked third-lowest in the NBA. The first season D’Antoni was the head coach of the team in 2015-16, the Rockets ranked last (2.1 percent) in post-up frequency.
D’Antoni has always been a vocal critic of a post-up offense, so it was unlikely that he would allow Anthony to use this play type more often than he was.
Should the Rockets waive him, as reported by Stein, his new team should allow him to play the style that works best for him.
For what it’s worth, the 76ers have an open roster spot and post up more often than any team in the Eastern Conference except the Detroit Pistons. Regardless of where he ends up if he is waived, it’s absolutely worth monitoring the frequency the offense runs post-up possessions.