Carmelo Anthony might be one of the most maligned players in recent memory. The only player from the Top 5 of the famed 2003 NBA Draft class that doesn't have a championship ring, Melo has been labeled as an empty stats superstar who isn't capable of getting his team over the hump.
Last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder was a disaster for Anthony, as he had the worst stretch of his career. He was inefficient and didn't seem to mesh well with the domineering style of Russell Westbrook, he seemed lost and disinterested on defense, which could possibly be the reasons why he was shipped to Atlanta where he was subsequently waived.
The Houston Rockets promptly picked him up to help boost their lineup and chances to compete in an almost comically stacked Western Conference. Even before the signing was official, fans have already called this a bad move for last year's Western Conference runners-up.
But what if it isn't?
Melo may not be what he once was in his prime with the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks, but he is still one of the most gifted scorers the league has ever seen. He's also still a capable and willing defender when engaged and motivated.
That "when motivated" caveat has always been a part of the perception for Melo, although we must not forget how dominant he was not too long ago. His career and reputation may not be as good as LeBron James or even Dwyane Wade, but he can lay claim to being the third best player on an acclaimed draft class.
Anthony now has the chance to play with two incredible playmakers in Chris Paul and reigning Most Valuable Player James Harden. Those two are walking offensive cheat codes with the ability to make and create shots, and he will be able to feast on opportunities afforded by the unselfish duo. Anthony can also be a one-on-one threat, whether from the post or perimeter. That means that Houston has three players who can create their own shots in the half-court.
To be fair, Anthony might be a downgrade from the low maintenance defense-first games of Ariza and Mbah a Moute but that doesn't mean he will sink Houston. A lot of things have to break right for him and the Rockets, but the potential is there. And when they reach their potential, they may still be able to challenge the Golden State Warriors for Western Conference supremacy.