LeBron James Decision: Carmelo Anthony Is Key To Beating Miami Heat

Brian ChappattaCorrespondent IIJuly 9, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - APRIL 30:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets stands on the court during their game against the Utah Jazz in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on April 30, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The summer of 2010 is over. All the big free agents have their destinations.

And three of the top five picks in the 2003 NBA Draft will be teaming up in Miami. The second pick of 2003, Darko Milicic, signed with Minnesota.

So who is the only top five pick in 2003 who wasn't a free agent this summer?

Carmelo Anthony.

And you better believe he is going to be courted just as hard next summer as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were this year. It's not just because he is extremely talented, or because he may want to flee a smaller market.

It's because he can neutralize the powerful team forming in South Beach.

There has been talk of the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls saving cap space to target Carmelo next season. It's a slippery slope. How long do you continue to sacrifice with the hope of eventually landing a star?

Yet for teams like the Bulls in particular, it just might make sense. Carmelo could be the player that a good team needs to become great.

Prolific Scorer

To beat the Miami Heat, teams are going to need to score points.

A lot of points.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Heat led the league in points per game next season.

After all, it's basically an All-Star team. I expect the "Miami Thrice" to average 85 points a game. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James should get around 30, and Chris Bosh will get 25.

To win against a team like that, you almost have to be able to score on every other possession.

Carmelo can help a team do that.

He can post up small forwards because of his size. He can drive to the hoop with a quick first step. He can stroke jumpers better than most players in the NBA.

The only players who can score like he can are James, Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant. That's good company.

For a team like the Bulls, who have Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer as primary scorers, Anthony would be the missing piece to notch 30 points per game.

The same applies for the New Jersey Nets, who are pretty much the same as the Bulls, only slightly worse.

Fellow Olympian

Carmelo has practiced with Wade, James, and Bosh extensively as part of Team USA. They were all buddies in Beijing, so he probably knows what they are like off the court as well.

He also played with them in pressure situations, so he knows a little bit about how the three of them function when faced with adversity.

All of that knowledge can be used against the Heat, which are nearly a smaller version of Team USA.

Every little bit counts—and knowing certain traits about the opponent can never hurt.

Anthony might not be the greatest defender in the NBA, but I'm confident he can handle LeBron as well as anyone else out there. He has a strong body to battle him, similar to Ron Artest.

Not a ball hog

One of the knocks on Rose, Wade, and James was that they all were essentially the same player. They all need the ball in their hands to create for themselves and their teammates.

That's not the case with Carmelo. Which is why he would fit so nicely on so many teams.

Anthony can be a catch-and-shoot player coming off a screen. He can also isolate his man one-on-one when his team needs a basket or when the offense is not running smoothly.

Basically, he can be "The Man" when he needs to be. But he can also play in a system. That means a team does not need to structure its entire offense around him.

So for a team like the Bulls, he would be a perfect piece. Rose can do the ball-handling, and Carmelo can flow through Rose and the rest of the offensive game plan.

Will Carmelo leave Denver?

Hard to say, especially with the new collective bargaining agreement looming over the NBA. He might take the money from Denver now.

However, the Nuggets have seemingly plateaued, and as LeBron proved Thursday night, it is possible to walk away from a top-seeded team.

If he chooses to either be traded or become a free agent, many teams will seek his services. If the "Miami Thrice" come together as well as they say they will, then only the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers could even put up a fight against them.

Throwing Carmelo into the mix changes all that. At this point, he is the only top-five player who will be moving teams anytime soon. James and Wade just signed, Kobe will remain a Laker, and Durant just got an extension with the Thunder.

He is the key to neutralizing the enormous power that is gathering in Miami. If Anthony does not join forces with another superstar or two, the Heat will win championship after championship, relatively unchecked.


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