Carmelo Anthony is one of the NBA's most polarizing players. As a member of the New York Knicks, he's been criticized heavily for his defense and volume shooting. However, even the most staunch Melo detractors wouldn't deny that he was deservingly in the MVP discussion last season. From Syracuse to Denver to New York, he's made his fair share of friends and enemies along the way.
Melo has a 81 percent HOF Probability according to Basketball Reference, but if the perennial All-Star were to hang up his J's tomorrow morning, would he be a lock for the Basketball Hall of Fame?
The six-time All-Star just won his first scoring championship this season, but it can be argued that Melo's been the best scorer in the league for years. According to MySynergySports (subscription required), Carmelo ranks in the top 100 in seven of Synergy's nine offensive criteria (isolation, pick and roll, post-up, spot-up, off screens, hand-offs and offensive rebounds).
However, for all of his offensive capability, Melo has never been able to deliver points with efficiency nor, until last season, the volume of his scoring rival Kevin Durant.
Last season, Durant fell a few decimal points short of the scoring title but shot a historic 51 percent from the field, including 14.6 percent from beyond the arc and 90.5 percent from the free-throw line. In comparison, Melo scored 0.6 more points per game with shooting splits of 44.9-37.9-83.
All in all, Melo's scoring ability has run the same course as his career: supernatural gifts that have never fully translated themselves as effective to long-term winning.
Melo may not have any championship hardware yet, but he has no shortage of individual accolades. Since entering the league in 2004, Melo's played in six All-Star games. Not to mention, he has four All-NBA Third Team honors and two All-NBA Second Team honors. Truth be told, a player of his stature should've made the All-NBA First Team by now, but it's important to remember Melo has the unfortunate task of being third to LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He was top five in MVP voting last season when he won his first scoring title.
Melo has an impressive set of hardware, but unfortunately none of it screams transcendent the way the resumes of other likely Hall of Famers do. He's produced consistently year in and year out, and that's been enough to keep him in the discussion for years.
Still, being enshrined with the best of the best requires more. As a scorer, Melo is supremely talented, but he's never unanimously been considered the best scorer in the league. He's been considered a below-average defender throughout his career despite having the athletic tools to succeed on that end.
Similarly, his propensity for volume shooting has damaged his passing game. Over the years, Melo has been labelled as a ball hog, a one-trick pony and most disparagingly, a career loser. That same consistency follows Melo in the postseason in that he's never missed the playoffs. Yet he's never made a lasting splash past April: His claim to postseason fame is a lone conference finals appearance.
Say what you will about Anthony's NBA career, but he pulled off a few truly immortalizing achievements in college. Though he spent just one season at Syracuse, his 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game were enough to lead the Orange to their first NCAA title. After the tournament, he was named the NCAA's Most Outstanding Player. As if that wasn't enough, he was also named the Big East Rookie of the Year. Melo's No. 15 is now hanging in the rafters of the Carrier Dome.
When you compare him to other players with a similar Hall of Fame probability, all retired players save for Jo Jo White have been inducted. He ranks in-between Adrian Dantley and James Worthy. It’s important to remember, though, that the other two finished their careers with 15 and 12 seasons, respectively, under their belts. This article is meant to decipher whether or not Carmelo would be enshrined in Springfield, Mass. if his career ended today.
Melo’s plight is probably most similar to former Knicks player Bernard King, who was just inducted. He was another player with infinite offensive potential who never excelled in any other field as much as he did with putting the ball into the basket. In his eighth season, he led the NBA in scoring with 32.9 points per game. A knee injury forced him to retire with just 874 games under his belt, which then delayed his entry into the Hall of Fame.
In conclusion, Melo's scoring ability, college career and overall consistency would give him borderline Hall of Fame consideration if he were to retire today. However, his lack of playoff success, below-average defense and failure to realize his potential prevent him from being an absolute lock.
If Melo were to retire today, he’d still be over 150 games short of King’s 874. King eventually made it to the Hall, but he was far from being a lock, so Anthony would likely have the same fate.