Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, who was out of the NBA for 12 months after he and the Houston Rockets parted ways in November 2018, said on The Encore on Jumpman's Instagram Live Monday that "the game has changed" for him in the year since.
"Well, I think mentally, mentally for me the game has changed. Because I was in Houston under a different mentality. So to be able to step away from the game and see it from a bird's-eye view, that changed. You got one year, people don't understand how much goes on within one year. I mean, study and preparation, team, ups and downs, all of that stuff comes into play."
Anthony was interviewed on Jumpman's IG Live by ESPN's Sage Steele, who referenced comments Melo had made in the past about the game changing over the past year.
He spoke about that soon after his Blazers debut in mid-November:
Anthony noted that he had to be "prepared for...this new game," referencing its "faster pace" and greater level of athleticism (2:35 mark).
Anthony wasn't kidding when he said the NBA has played at a faster pace over the past year than he's previously seen.
Basketball Reference defines the pace statistic as the number of possessions a team has per 48 minutes. The average pace from 2003-04 to 2012-13 (the first 10 years of Anthony's career) stayed in a range between 90.1 and 92.7.
Those numbers jumped in the mid-2010s, but they took a massive leap forward between 2017-18 (97.3) and 2018-19 (100.0). Last year's pace stat marked the first time the league average was in triple digits since 1988-89.
Anthony played for some fast-paced Nuggets teams when he starred for them in the 2000s and early 2010s, with the team finishing anywhere from first to sixth in pace during his tenure. But Denver's fastest-paced team during that time (2007-08) was at 99.7, or below the current league average of 100.2.
Anthony also referenced the need to take care of himself physically during the interim period away from the game to be ready upon his return, in part because he needed to be ready for that increased pace.
But he's done well adjusting for the Blazers (12th in pace), averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game. His 37.1 percent three-point shooting rate is also his highest mark since 2013-14.
Anthony also helped the Blazers stay alive for a Western Conference playoff spot. The team was in ninth in the West and 3.5 games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies for the last West postseason berth when the league was suspended March 11 following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert's positive COVID-19 result.