Carmelo Anthony Doesn't Make Sense for the Houston Rockets
Just two weeks ago, the Houston Rockets traded for superstar point guard Chris Paul and, with the acquisition, effectively announced their intentions to dethrone the World Champion Golden State Warriors.
But according to Vegas, that move alone won't be enough to take down the Dubs. Though the Rockets' championship odds doubled from 30/1 to 15/1, the Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites at 5/11.
But the Rockets might not be done.
According to reports, general manager Daryl Morey would look to create a big three in Houston. The Rockets have yet to land their third stud, though, and are now limited to one guy. With Paul George and Gordon Hayward now in, respectively, Oklahoma City and Boston, Carmelo Anthony is Houston's best option.
But is it?
Failure to Land?
In recent days, the New York Knicks have made it clear they don't envision a future with Anthony and, since David Griffin dropped out of the running for the team's general manager position, are working toward trading him. Even Anthony is confident that he'll end up in Houston.
This all begs the questions, does Melo-to-Houston make sense, what effect will his presence have on the roster, and does Anthony fit coach Mike D'Antoni's offense?
In terms of bringing the 10-time All-Star on board, it could be quite complicated. If the Knicks and Anthony can't agree to a buyout of Anthony's $26.2 million contract, a trade would more than likely require a third team to make it happen.
At $114.4 million in cap allocations (according to Spotrac), the Rockets are $15 million above the cap and are roughly $4 million below the luxury tax threshold. They've been offering Ryan Anderson's $19.6 million cap hit, but the Knicks have said that they're not interested in taking on his contract. All of which is why a third team might need to be brought in to facilitate the transaction.
In the case of a buyout, Anthony could join the Rockets on a few shekels while receiving money from the Knicks. For that reason, Houston might not have to move Anderson...or, for that matter, any other player on the roster.
Either way, Houston would be home to three players with a combined 24 All-Star appearances and 18 All-NBA performances. Talent won't be the issue, but to make it gel, either the Rockets or their additions would have to change their approach.
We've already touched on how Chris Paul's mid-range game clashes with the three-point oriented Rockets, but Anthony is even more reliant on the mid-range. This past season, 36.4% of his scoring came from there as he accumulated just 27.3% of his points from beyond the three-point line.
Here's how that compares to Houston players who played at least 20 minutes in 2016-17.
|Player||% PTS MR||% PTS 3PT|
In case you didn't catch it in the prior piece, 29.7% of Paul's points came from the mid-range while 33.7% came via the three-ball. So it's clear that the Rockets are willing to sacrifice some of their three-point potency for some midrange goodness.
Only One Ball
With the addition of Paul and the potential acquisition of Anthony, the Rockets would own three players who averaged at least 3.0 isolation possessions per game a year ago. Anthony himself averaged 5.3 such possessions, ranking third behind Harden (6.8 possessions) and Russell Westbrook (6.4). That constituted 23.1% of Anthony's offensive possessions with which he yielded 5.2 points per game on an effective field goal percentage of 46.8%.
Outside of Harden, the rest of the Rockets' team averaged just 5.2 isolation possessions and 4.5 points per game in those situations. For reference, they averaged (with Harden) 28.8 spot up possessions with 29.1 points per game on those types of plays.
Based on isolation and mid-range data alone, Anthony doesn't really mesh with what is (or at least was) the Rockets way of offense, avoiding inefficient mid-range shots and hitting threes. But usage rate shows that the Rockets would now have two very ball-dominant players where they had just one -- Harden -- over a 25% usage a year ago.
|2016-17 (Tm Rk)||Player||Usage||2017-18 (Tm Rk)||Player||Usage|
|1||James Harden||34.1%||1||James Harden||34.1%|
|2||Lou Williams||24.4%||2||Carmelo Anthony||29.0%|
|3||Eric Gordon||22.0%||3||Chris Paul||24.3%|
Paul's usage, nearly identical to that of Williams in 2016-17, would rank third on the team. In fact, in putting together the trio's usage rates, the combination (87.4%) would be 2% higher than the combined rate of the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love (85.4%).
But the numbers might not tell the whole story. We're well aware of the dysfunction within the Knicks organization, so maybe Anthony's value and efficiency would improve in a positive environment. For now, we'll have to wait and see if the opportunity presents itself. On paper, though, bringing on Melo doesn't make much sense for the Rockets.