There’s been a lot of speculation this offseason about where newly acquired Carmelo Anthony will fit in with the Houston Rockets. Many point to his unwillingness in years and with teams past to come off of the bench as a sign that the Rockets better include him in their starting five if they want a happy Melo.
Others rely on the fact that he seems to be a better fit with the Rockets’ second unit, which would allow Houston to keep stout defender P.J. Tucker in the starting five and give Melo the opportunity to essentially shoot at-will as the primary scorer off the bench.
Well, at this admittedly very early stage in training camp, it appears the latter group have the edge in Melo watch. According to the Athletic’s Kelly Iko (subscription required for link), Anthony was working with the bench group in yesterday’s first practice.
So that would mean James Ennis at the starting small forward slot, right?
Wrong. The group of five that appeared to be working together as the top unit were Chris Paul, James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela, as expected, except with Eric Gordon actually stepping in as the fifth piece.
According to Iko:
“On the left side of the court, there was Harden, Paul, Gordon, Tucker and Capela running through drive-and-kick drills, pick and pop routines, all overseen by coach Roy Rogers... On the opposite end, Gerald Green, James Ennis, Marqeuese Chriss, Isaiah Hartenstein, Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo Anthony worked with coach Brett Gunning, mainly on catch and shoot opportunities and rolls to the rim.”
That starting group of five was used occasionally last year in the regular season (and more in the postseason), and used to a great deal of success. And after one training camp practice (one that admittedly didn’t seem to include any live scrimmaging), that seems to be your starting five for the moment.
Now, plenty can (and often does) change as training camp moves along, the practices get more lively, and the preseason game schedule kicks into gear. But just on Monday at Media Day, Melo gave a very team-oriented answer when asked about coming off the bench.
It’s one of the main questions we’re anxiously awaiting an answer on this training camp. But perhaps the good news is that with Gordon, Ennis, Tucker, and Anthony all capable of fitting somewhere into the starting group, head coach Mike D’Antoni has a plethora of options available to him, depending on matchup. That is definitely only a good thing.