It didn’t take long for Carmelo Anthony to make his presence felt with the Lakers.
Just weeks into his nineteenth NBA season, Anthony has smoothly transitioned into a new role with a new team, averaging 16.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in efficient divisions.
Even at 37, Anthony is still finding ways to fill it up on offense, a reminder that you don’t become one of the top 10 scorers of all time without the natural ability to land a bucket. And you don’t win a pick as one of the top 75 players in league history if you can’t adapt.
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As Carmelo looks to play a major role in the Lakers’ quest for their 18th NBA title, three relatively sustainable statistics define his strong start to the season.
16.7 points per game
As mentioned above, Anthony is a born scorer, as evidenced by his career average of 22.9 points per game over 19 seasons.
Be that as it may, Anthony stepped back as a scorer once he was traded 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 three-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 adjustment in Los Angeles. With several talented playmakers and players demanding 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.
Since his scoring average isn’t a major increase from previous years, it looks like Anthony will be able to keep up.
50.0 percent of shots
While Anthony’s scoring average is the highest since the 2016-17 season, his efficiency is the highest of his career. Going into this season, Anthony had not shot better than 48.0 percent from the field since the 2007-08 season, in which he shot 49.2 percent from the field, the best of his career.
With age and experience comes wisdom, and Anthony’s efficiency seems to be the product of his smarter work, not harder.
Anthony’s talent gives him the ability to be a tough shooter, but his experience is what keeps him from relying on such hard looks to get his offense. The 50.0 percent mark may seem high, and the number itself is not what needs to be maintained.
As long as Anthony maintains the same focus that has led to this efficiency, the percentages will remain high and the Lakers’ offense will reap the benefits.
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20 triples to catch and shoot
Small sample size alert!
Take a snapshot of Anthony’s first seven games and you will see leads the NBA with 20 catch-and-shoot triples, which is down 50.0 percent. It’s early, but that number places him among the likes of Stephen Curry, Joe Harris, and Buddy Hield, among others.
A closer look shows that of those 3, Westbrook (8) and James (6) have helped 14 (or 70 percent) of them, adding to the idea of sustainability moving forward. Given their ability to go downhill and make defenses 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, according to NBA.com statistics, which means there were no defenders within four feet of him in the attempted shot.
Anthony shooting above 50.0 percent from 3-point range this season is probably not sustainable, but if he continues to get such high-quality looks, he will continue to connect at a high rate.
Having a takedown shooter is a key component to any successful LeBron-led team and that’s what they have in Anthony. Your ability to score in other ways serves as an added bonus.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.