PORTLAND, Ore. — How good have the Portland Trail Blazers been with Carmelo Anthony?
Let's get a couple disclaimers out of the way first: The data we have to look at with Anthony and the Blazers is a small sample size — just six games — and Portland has played some bad competition of late. But this is the data we have right now, so let's roll with it.
Anthony is averaging 17.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and shooting 46.2% on field goals and 37.0% from the 3-point line in six games with the Blazers. Portland has won three in a row and during that stretch, Anthony has increased his production to 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 57.4% from the field and 45.5% from 3. It's safe to say that up to this point, Anthony has outperformed everyone's expectations (expect perhaps his own).
During the Blazers' poor start to the season, their offense has been worse than expected, their defense has been bad, and they've had trouble rebounding the ball. Though Anthony isn't likely to help the Blazers' defense, the offense has been much improved and the team has rebounded at a better rate since Anthony arrived.
BEFORE ANTHONY (14 games)
- Points per game: 112.5 (11th in NBA)
- Field-goal percentage: 44.1% (24th)
- 3-point percentage: 35.2% (18th)
- Defensive rebounds per game: 35.8 (12th)
- Rebounds per game: 46.4 (10th)
AFTER ANTHONY (6 games)
- Points per game: 116.2 (5th)
- Field-goal percentage: 47.7% (3rd)
- 3-point percentage: 40.5% (1st)
- Defensive rebounds per game: 38.0 (2nd)
- Rebounds per game: 47.5 (6th)
During the Blazers' three-game winning streak, Portland has been even better, ranking third in points per game, first in field-goal percentage, ninth in 3-point percentage, first in defensive rebounds per game and first in total rebounds per game.
The starting lineup with Anthony, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood and Hassan Whiteside is now the Blazers' third most-used lineup this season (a testament to how much roster instability this team has experienced early on). In the 50 minutes those five have shared the court, the Blazers have outscored teams by 13 points per 100 possessions, an elite mark.
The Blazers have yet to be tested with Anthony. But this week brings games against the Clippers (15-6) and Lakers (17-3), which will give the new-look Blazers an idea of where they stand among Western Conference contenders.
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Here's a look at how the Blazers fared in this week's batch of power rankings:
ESPN: Blazers rank No. 15 (up 6)
What they wrote: The Blazers have stabilized a bit, winning three of their past four. He did it! Carmelo Anthony saved their season! (Well ... also, Damian Lillard returned from injury exactly four games ago.) And the three wins have been against the Bulls, Thunder and Bulls again. But that's not to dismiss Melo's positive impact. He has been excellent in his role thus far, and that's kind of the point: With Lillard back, Melo can fit how he is supposed to and complement Portland's dynamic backcourt as a spacer and sometime-iso scorer. This week will tell us a lot more about the fit, though, with games against the Clippers and Lakers looming. — Royce Young
The Athletic: Blazers rank No. 16 (up 4)
Positive takeaway: They have been an absolute mess so far and they're still very much in the mix. In fact, the Carmelo Anthony low risk, medium reward signing has been a huge plus for them. The Trail Blazers can't make a move that fixes their defense this season. So the alternative is trying to outgun every team they face. If Melo keeps playing like this, he can absolutely help Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum do exactly that. Their offense was a solid 13th in the NBA before the Melo debut. Since then, they’ve been fourth in offensive rating. Probably doesn't hold as-is, but McCollum getting on track with everybody could help it plateau around that mark.
Negative question: If the offense doesn't stay high-octane, will they be able to play any kind of defense to help them push ahead? I know Hassan Whiteside just had a double-digit block game, but their [defense] is still highly mediocre. They're not getting Zach Collins back for a long time, and a trio of Dame-Melo-CJ is going to be a buffet defensively for opponents. Does Terry Stotts have anything up his sleeve?
Why did the Blazers rise four spots this week? Granted, they didn't play good competition this week with two wins over Chicago and a win over OKC at home, but these are the kind of wins the Blazers need to correct their path this season. Some of this is believing they’re turning the corner into being good enough again, but I liked the way they rebounded against bad competition. — Zach Harper
Sports Illustrated: Blazers rank No. 16 (up 3)
What they wrote: Good for Carmelo Anthony. 22.3 points per game in his last three outings and a trio of Portland victories. Some shooting regression is likely, but Anthony doesn't look out of place as a quality rotational cog. Portland is receiving a facsimile to OKC Anthony, who was a useful regular-season player. The Blazers have been rewarded for their chance. — Michael Shapiro
CBS Sports: Blazers rank No. 18 (up 8)
What they wrote: All hail Carmelo Anthony, savior of the Portland Trail Blazers! Well, maybe not quite, but both the Blazers and Carmelo played well in a much-needed 3-0 week. Playing the Bulls twice helps, but those are games the Blazers were losing in the not-too-distant past. After a rocky start to his Blazers tenure, Anthony has averaged 22.3 points on 57% shooting and 46% 3-pointers during Portland's win streak. It's an incredibly small sample size, but so far this season the Blazers are a plus-4.4 in defensive rating and a plus-14.5 in overall net rating when Anthony is on the floor. — Colin Ward-Henninger
NBA.com: Blazers rank No. 18 (up 7)
What they wrote: The second week of Carmelo Anthony (22.3 points per game on an effective field goal percentage of 63% and a team-best plus-56) was much better than the first (13.0 on 40%, minus-19), the Blazers are 3-0 with their new starting lineup, and they've scored almost 120 points per 100 possessions in 89 total minutes with Anthony, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on the floor together. On Wednesday against Oklahoma City, Anthony took advantage of the Thunder's switching by posting up their guards (though his friend Chris Paul did get him with the 'ol pull-the-chair trick) and shooting 8-for-8 inside of 16 feet. He already has more catch-and-shoot 3-pointers (10) than Mario Hezonja (eight) or Nassir Little (four), and his final bucket against Chicago on Friday was an empty-side pick-and-pop with Lillard that looks like a go-to set going forward. The schedule gets tougher this week, with the Blazers having their first meetings with the two-star Clippers (Paul George missed the first game) and the Lakers. — John Schuhmann
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