Is Carmelo Anthony the missing piece for the Houston Rockets?

The Houston Rockets had a phenomenal season under first-year head coach Mike D’Antoni, who jump started the team’s offense by inserting superstar James Harden in the point guard position. Who would have thought that a team that was the eighth seed at 41-41 would transform into a third seed that recorded a 55-27 season. It did help tremendously that the team were able to add sharpshooters Lou Williams and Eric Gordon, who both boast 6th man of the year awards and were offensive juggernauts. These players combined for 35.6 points, 5.8 assists, and shot over 41%. Every time these two came off the bench, they provided the offensive spark needed especially when Harden was off the floor, knocking down essential three-pointers. Both players thrived under Coach D’Antoni’s, which focused

Both players thrived under Coach D’Antoni’s, which focused its attention on a motion offense and pick-and-roll sets. James Harden used pick-and-roll plays with other three point shooters such as Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson, which forced opposing teams to pick their poison. They can either face the wrath of Harden driving through the lane for a high percentage shot, or an open three-ball with one of his teammates.

The team got even better by adding the best point guard in the NBA in Chris Paul. Harden will always be seen as the face of the franchise, especially after signing a whopping $228 million extension through the 2022-23 season. His uncanny ability to set up open teammates in traffic and attracting defenders like a magnet will continue to propel the Rockets to great heights. However, there is one true ingredient that Harden is missing: transcendent leadership. He has not been proven to be the player to lift his team up to the next level and make sure his entire team is prepared for the task at hand, especially during the playoffs. Harden was a choke-artist in game six against the San Antonio Spurs, despite the injury to all-star Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. He offered little explanation for his poor play and displays signs of surrender. Paul is the total opposite.

Paul is a bulldog who will fight until the very end of a ballgame and ensure no one around him gives up. Though his own resume does not include a single game past the second round of the playoffs, he is known to hold himself and his players accountable. His in-your-face confrontations on the court and tongue chewing will make sure the offensive-minded Rockets concentrate on both ends of the floor. Championship teams need to be all-around teams, not just highly-efficient on the offensive end.

With a transformative NBA, that is witnessing players form Big Three teams, are a superstar duo of Chris Paul and James Harden enough to overcome teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors? Will adding a premier offensive threat like Carmelo Anthony provide the extra boost towards winning a title?

Is Carmelo Anthony the missing championship piece for the Rockets?

Carmelo has been seen by the league as someone who has taken the biggest bite financially out of the big apple. He has soaked up every beam of light that shines down on the court in Madison Square Garden putting up 24.5 points, 3.25 assists, and 6.91 rebounds in his six-year tenure. At 33 years old, does Carmelo have enough value to provide to the Rockets to get them over the hump of beating one of the greatest teams of all-time? Though he has never shown an inclination to play defense, Carmelo has the ability to change that with a championship contender. Carmelo has shown during his Olympic basketball play that he knows how to play both ends of the floor and blossom as the defensive leader. According to Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski, he’s stated that Carmelo’s been “sensational really as a leader and as a player.” This type of endorsement speaks volumes from a Hall of Fame coach, who sees Carmelo’s ability to impact not only through his offensive skill-sets but through his veteran experience.

Surrounding himself with highly motivated and skilled players such as Paul and Harden will allow Carmelo to elevate his game and spread the floor. Carmelo will eat alive any defender put in front of him in isolation situations, as he is used to having the ball in his hands. In 2016-2017, Carmelo was ranked in the top five in frequency in the league. He always felt obligated to put the team on his back and take on even the most elite defenders by himself. With other playmakers such as Paul and Harden, the floor spacing will open up significantly. This would result in 3-point and jump-shot opportunities. Also, there is a tremendous value to Carmelo’s coaching tips that can be relayed to younger players and prospects on the team.

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