How Carmelo Anthony Has Blurred the Definition of NBA Superstar

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterAugust 1, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of United States goes after a loose ball against Tunisia during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's more complicated than "overrated." Over the course of his career, Carmelo Anthony offered overvalued production, but he's done so with skills that speak to an ability to do so much more. 

This is confusing, this is hard to process. This is especially difficult to wrap our heads around when "superstar" means a bit more than just on-court production. The title speaks to a certain cachet, a fame that stretches around the world.

By representing New York's team and by representing Team USA in a third Olympics, Carmelo Anthony is certainly augmenting his star power. If he plays well against international competition (easier to do than playing well against NBA competition), all the more so.

Anthony further confused the debate over his status by showing flashes of efficiency last year. When Amar'e Stoudemire went down with a back injury, Melo was inserted into the lineup as a power forward. From there, a discovery: Carmelo Anthony is a power forward (as ESPN's Beckley Mason put it). 

Going against paint-bound bigs unleashed Anthony's talent. He's already power forward size, with some perimeter quickness to go with it. Against small forwards, Melo would often take contested outside shots. Against power forwards, Anthony would take it to the hoop. The latter strategy helped the Knicks nab a playoff spot. 

We now know that Anthony's shot-efficiency issue is a fixable problem. He doesn't always have to trundle on as someone hated by the advanced-stats community. He has demonstrated the talent to be productive in a tangible way.

But will he carry that through in the future, especially with Amar'e returning to play so much at the 4? 

Anthony remains an enigma, nearly impossible to categorize. He has the power to force Mike D'Antoni out of New York. He lacks the power to win without stars surrounding him. He might not have the kind of game that jibes with stars surrounding him. 

I once joked that Carmelo couldn't criticize Jeremy Lin for making bank off a month of basketball because Melo had been making bank off 2003 March Madness for a decade. That's hyperbole, but I believe it to a certain extent. His awesome college run solidified superstar status before Anthony even scored an NBA point. There was a presumption that Melo was already superstar, or at least on the path to superstardom.

The Nuggets cooperated by winning more games upon Anthony's arrival, but they plateaued in the late 2000s. Since then, Melo's superstar status has become blurry.

He doesn't play defense and doesn't pass well. He scores especially well, but not efficiently at his main position. He's the best player on his team. He's holding his team back with strong arm power coups.

In the coming years, Carmelo Anthony will define himself. As of now, there is much to clarify.