To his fans he's one of the league's best players, period. To his detractors he's a one-dimensional player who shoots too much, doesn't defend with enough intensity and hasn't won a ring.
Both camps probably agree that Carmelo Anthony is a fantastic scorer.
How does he do it? Night in, night out, few players in the NBA can be counted on to score nearly 25 points a game for almost a full decade, yet that's what Anthony has done.
Nine NBA seasons. A low of 20.8 points per game in his second season and a high of 28.9 a night in his fourth year. Add it all up and you've got a nine-year career and a 24.7 points-per-game average.
What's the secret? In a word, "versatility."
Anthony has some physical gifts. Yes, nearly all NBA players are unusually tall, some almost to the point of being modern-day giants.
Anthony is 6'8". That's tall enough to play almost anywhere on the court. As luck would have it, Anthony can score from almost anywhere on the court.
Back to the basket? Anthony can back his defender down into the low post.
If the defender is taller, Anthony has a series of up-fakes and moves to get around him.
If he's shorter? That's a massive mismatch. Anthony can easily turn and shoot over him, or he can try and get all the way to the rim, where he's one of the league's better finishers.
Unlike many of the big men who normally operate in the low post, Anthony is an exceptional free-throw shooter. This can't be taken lightly. It's the threat of Anthony drawing fouls that makes him so tough to defend.
Young players should take note. Hitting your free throws is important. Anthony nails 80.5 percent of his free throws and while that might not put him in the Larry Bird-zone, it's above the league average and better than many of his other top-scoring peers. It's why Anthony doesn't get hacked every time he goes to the rim or receive many double teams, in spite of a reputation for not being the most willing passer in the league.
Last season, Anthony was seventh in the NBA in attempted free throws per game with 6.7 per contest
There's more to Anthony's game though. He's not a bad athlete. Okay, he won't be winning or even participating in a slam-dunk contest, but he's still a very tough guy to stick with. He can jump, has very good body control and is deceptively strong in spite of a lanky build. Anthony doesn't just get to the free-throw line, he gets there with chances to finish three-point plays.
Anthony has the wingspan of a 7'0" player. Those long arms allow Anthony to effectively get the ball over taller defenders. They also force defenders to leave their feet in an attempt to block his shots, and once a defender is off his feet it is only a matter of a slight shift to draw enough contact to get to the free-throw line.
He's not going to go down in NBA history as a great three-point shooter, but defenders can't just leave him open from long range either. Anthony is a 32.2 percent three-point shooter. Not great, but he hits just enough three-pointers that defenders are forced to take him seriously when he's left open.
When you sum up all the factors that contribute to Anthony's scoring, it ultimately comes back to versatility. Put simply, Anthony can put the ball in the basket from too many places on the court to be consistently defended well.
Inside or outside, long- or mid-range, Anthony's ability to score is always present, and he's certainly not afraid to use it to his advantage. You can't foul him because he's too good at the line, an opposing team's best bet is to hope Anthony doesn't stay too hot for too long, or he can, and will, win a game on his own.
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