Fans of the Houston Rockets were abuzz Wednesday, either positively or negatively, as one of the NBA’s prized free agents, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, arrived in town to be schmoozed by Rockets brass hoping to bring the star to Houston.
There were promises of a good chunk of change and a new “big three” to rival the Miami Heat’s star power.
Rockets guard Jeremy Lin and his loyal followers got their feelings hurt on Twitter because of a gigantic graphic at the Toyota Center showing Anthony wearing Lin’s number.
The welcoming party treated Anthony to a swanky lunch and it was over.
Now the speculation, anticipation and analysis are underway and will continue until Anthony makes up his mind.
Hopefully, he does it fairly quickly like last year’s top free agent, center Dwight Howard.
So far, I have heard plenty of arguments against bringing Anthony aboard the Space City’s pro hoops squad.
He isn’t known for playing strong defense — a big need for the Rockets — and he compounds that fact by jacking up a lot of shots.
He dominates the ball on offense, often turning to an isolation-style attack, which would conflict with current star guard James Harden, who does the same.
His primary position, small forward, is not one of need for the Rockets, and they would be better served with upgrades at point guard or power forward.
All are solid points, but if the Rockets do land Anthony (far from a sure thing as my gut says he stays in New York for the most money and on good faith new team president Phil Jackson can build a winning team), there are encouraging signs he could be the key piece to returning Houston to NBA glory.
In Anthony’s NBA career, he’s never really played along another superstar, let alone the two he would be paired with in Houston.
The closest he’s had is an injury-riddled, past-his-prime Amare Stoudamire.
When watching Anthony, he’s played his most impressive basketball in the few chances he has had to play among other superstars.
The performance that sticks out to me the most was his showing in the 2012 Olympics.
Albeit a small and somewhat skewed sample size, Anthony played much more efficiently when he had stars to support him in the Olympics.
A 45.5 percent field goal shooter in his NBA career, Anthony shot 53.5 percent in the Olympics.
He averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in only 17.8 minutes per game in the Olympics. If given his NBA career minutes per game average of 36.5, Anthony would have been on pace for 33.4 PPG and 9.8 RPG with his Olympic-level of efficiency.
In seven career NBA All-Star Games (yes, I know they are mostly glorified shoot-arounds and dunk contests), Anthony has also consistently been among the best of the best, with career All-Star Game averages of 21.1 PPG and 8.4 RPG.
Anthony’s offensive presence could also help other Rockets players focus on ramping up their defense.
Even Harden, who was widely criticized for his lack of defense, hustled on defense during his days with the Oklahoma City Thunder when he had Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to help carry the load on offense.
On offense, Anthony would likely be the go-to guy with Harden as the most dangerous second option in the league.
And teams will still have to worry about the inside-outside dual threats of Howard and, if he returns, forward Chandler Parsons.
There’s no doubt the Rockets would need to add some other smaller pieces to build a complete team, but Anthony’s versatility and talent could make for an intriguing lineup that could be a nightmare for opposing teams next season.