Carmelo Anthony: Why He's in the Same Class As Kobe, Le Bron, and Dwayne Wade

Zach AmburgeyCorrespondent IMay 21, 2009

DENVER - MAY 13:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets is welcomed off court by head coach George Karl late in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 13, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 124-110 to advance to the Western Conference Finals. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Over the last couple of years, the only names you hear in the talks of being the best player in the NBA, and in the world, has been LeBron James, whom I believe is the best, and Kobe Bryant. Dwayne Wade had his name sprinkled in at times during this season, his best to date in the NBA.

But what about the one man who has always been on the outside looking in?

Carmelo Anthony deserves to be in the same talks as Bron Bron and Kobe. His game has improved rapidly since coming into the league out of Syracuse in 2003-2004. It's fair to say that Melo has been the dark horse in the running as the best player in the NBA.

I mean, I won't get around the fact that his running mates, Bryant and James, are among the greatest players to ever play the game. But it's also hard to get around the fact that Melo is making a strong charge at those two global superstars.

As his career began in '03-04, the young star hit the ground running with the Denver Nuggets. He played in all 82 games, starting in all 82.. He averaged 21 points, six rebounds, and close to three assists. He was beat out, but not by much, by the chosen one, the King, LeBron James for Rookie of the Year.

As a rookie, Melo has many highlight games for the Nuggets, who won 43 games and made the playoffs. He had 41 points against the Sonics, becoming the second youngest player in NBA history to score over 40 in a game. His rookie season set the standards for Melo, and still today he is reaching those standards.

In 2004-2005 Carmelo put together another very solid campaign. He averaged 20.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. He went down a few games from his rookie season, only playing and starting in 75 of the Nuggets 82.

He did become the third youngest player in NBA history to reach 2,000 points. The only two ahead of him, who else? Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Melo helped the Nuggets to a 49-33 record, but failed to get out of the first round against the San Antonio Spurs. Still things were looking bright for the former Syracuse star.

Things took off for Carmelo in 2005-2006. He played in 80 games, starting all of them, and helped the Nuggets to a 44-38 record, and another playoff birth. Yet again, the Nuggets saw defeat in the first round of the post season, something that wasn't making the Denver fans happy, or Melo.

Even though the playoff failure continued, Melo still had an outstanding season. He put up 26.8 points, eighth best in the NBA, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. It was his best season in Denver yet, and things would only get better for the star.

In 2006-2007 things did get better for Melo. He put up 28.9 points, six rebounds, and 3,8 assists. Anthony had another stellar season as a Nugget. The bad thing, of course, was the Nuggets inability to get out of the first round of the playoffs.

Yet again, after a solid year, the Nuggets fell to the Spurs in the first round. The hopes were high for the following season, that maybe, just maybe, they could make it past the first week of the playoffs.

In 2007-2008 Melo's numbers took a slight decrease, but they were still very solid. Anthony averaged 25.7 points, 4th in the NBA, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. The Nuggets put together a 50-32 record, but yet again it fell apart in the first round of the playoffs. Anthony was quickly becoming, "a great player who can score, but can't get his team over the hump". Anthony didn't take liking to that, and would hopefully change the minds of NBA fans in '08-09.

As the 2008-2009 season came, many Nuggets fans wondered if Iverson and Anthony could stick it out for one last season together and make a playoff push. Anthony had seen five straight great seasons flounder in the post season.

Mid way through the year, the Nuggets dealt away the high scoring Iverson to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups. This move would be the biggest trade in the 2008-2009 season, and the biggest move in quite some time. Billups ignited the Nuggets on both sides of the ball, and helped Carmelo's play.

Even though he had his lowest points per game total since 2004-2005, Melo and the Nuggets put together a 54-28 record, which was good enough for a No. 2 seed in the conference. the Nuggets highest since Melo had been there.

They would finally break the hump and make it past the first round of the post season, and then defeat the Dallas Mavericks in five games, going to their first Western Conference Finals since 1985.

Carmelo has put up solid numbers over his career, 24.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. His numbers stack up with the best, even LeBron and Kobe. Also he has proven he can lead his team past the first week of the post season.

Melo's game is special. From his shot, to his attacking the basket, it's very special. Now let me break down Melo compared to the two superstars of LeBron and Kobe.

Melo vs Kobe

Kobe is known as the greatest player in the world to most, and the closest thing to Mike Jordan. I'm sorry, I completely disagree with that. Moving on, Kobe is the better ball handler, and can handle more pressure from the defense.

They are pretty equal when it comes to shooting, and they can both get their shots whenever they want it. Kobe has benefited with stellar big men play for most of his career, Melo has not. I don't care what some will say, that has something to do with it.

They both attack the basket well, and Melo is just as good of a pure scorer as Kobe. Yes Kobe has the rings, Melo doesn't. I know that. Give Melo a dominant big man, I'm sure he would have a couple by now too.

All in all, I'll give Kobe an edge as the better overall player, but honestly not by much. Kobe has had the better career, obviously, but don't count Melo out from having the type of career Kobe has had, and will have.

Melo vs LeBron

Melo is the better scorer of the two. Obviously LeBron is stronger, and can get up much higher. LeBron attacks the basket like nobody I have ever seen. His ability to get his at the rim is amazing.

Melo is the better shooter. He can get his jumper off at any time, while LeBron has to sometimes work for his off the dribble or coming off a screen, or falling back to the corner from an in-and-out with the post.

They both rebound the ball very well, and can get their team involved in the offense. They are both good motivators, and that definitely has something to do with it. LeBron is the better defender of the two, but Melo isn't to far behind.

LeBron can alter shots and get big blocks, while Melo is a good on the ball defender. Melo is the more clutch player of the two. They are very similar, but then different players, if that can make sense. I give the edge to LeBron, and it's a bigger edge than Melo vs Kobe.

All three guys are amazing talents who have been, and always will be, a treat to watch. They all have their own aspects of the game which they are better than the other. Kobe does have all the hardware that these two youngsters don't, but give them time and they will.

Melo and LeBron has been known as a little rivalry over the years, but things are just starting to heat up. These two still have a many of NBA seasons left, and a many of head-to-head match ups.

Carmelo Anthony deserves to be mentioned with Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Howard, whoever you want to say is the best. He has proved he is an elite NBA player, and he will continue to do so.

Anthony is on a path to greatness, and he will stay straight on that path and it will take him as far as he wants to go.


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