Carmelo Anthony’s long anticipated and overdue return to the NBA has been a success story that the league and their fans have been rooting for, although it has not necessarily led to success for his team. After his struggles in his season debut, which I admit to being critical of (click here to read), he has seemed to have grown into a comfort zone on the court. The Blazers have not hesitated throwing Melo into the mix in his short time in Portland. In his 12 game span with the team, he has averaged 16.3 points per game to pair along with 6 rebounds per game as well while playing over 30 minutes a game.
Before he joined the roster, they were 5-9 and were looking for another reliable scorer to pair along with their all-star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. They have certainly found that in Anthony, however not much has changed now since he has joined they are 5-7.
What is most intriguing about his scoring numbers as well as the rest of the team, is how balanced their scoring has been this season. Melo is tied for third on the team in scoring with another new addition Hassan Whiteside. Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are both averaging over 20 points per game. With 4 players on the roster averaging over 15 points a game, one would assume they would be having a successful season. Especially when the only other teams that have 4 players averaging over 15 points a game playing in at least half of the season’s games are the Clippers who are 2nd in the West and the Heat who are 2nd in the East. However, that is not the case in Portland.
However, that is not the case in Portland. The Trail Blazers have followed their Western Conference final appearance with a disappointing 10-16 start this season, which has them sitting at 12th in the West. Their defense has been far from strong and has slightly regressed from last season. They are 22nd in the league in points per game and 21st in defensive rating. Although their balanced scoring amongst their starters has gotten their offense to sit at 10th in the league, their bench scoring has dropped 9 spots since last season and is sitting at 27th in the league and took a huge blow with Rodney Hood’s season ending Achilles injury. Hood was leading their bench in scoring averaging 11 points per game. Although they have some young players developing on that bench such as Anfernee Simons and Zach Collins, they have some veterans that are not making the impact they were anticipated to make. Kent Bazemore has struggled since he joined the team this offseason, averaging in the single digits for the first time in his career since his 2014-15 season. His 2-point field goal percentage is sitting at 35% which is the worst percentage of his career by a landslide. Mario Hezonja, whose whole career has been pretty disappointing considering he was a top-five draft pick in 2015 and has yet to average over 10 points per game, is only averaging 4.4 points a game, which is a 4-point decrease from last season in over 17 minutes played per game.
With this year’s current regression from last year’s great season, it is hard to imagine that Neil Olshey will be done making moves this season. Their alarmingly weak bench is an issue and is currently holding this team back from being the formidable opponent that we grown accustomed to seeing. Although there is still plenty of season left, the clock is ticking on the Blazers to right the ship if they even want to make the playoffs.
Check out some of Melo’s Blazers highlights below: