The Rockets swung for the fences with the Carmelo Anthony signing, but they weakly grounded out.
Anthony was a Rocket for ten games before Daryl Morey decided that the experiment had reached its conclusion. In that time, Melo averaged 13/5 on 41% shooting and 32% from deep. Every advanced statistic tells you that he was fairly poor all around, and the eye test proved that. At the time of his last game as a member of the Rockets, Houston’s record was 4-6.
In most regards, Melo was a disappointment. Morey envisioned him as a tertiary scorer and creator that could help Chris Paul dominate bench lineups and step up if and when Paul or James Harden got injured. In that regard, Melo’s inability to shoot well or score in bunches limited his usefulness to the Rockets.
However, to just wrap things up by saying “Carmelo sucked and good riddance” would be incredibly unfair to Melo, who showed that he desperately wanted the situation to work out.
Remember, Anthony was coming off a tough season in Oklahoma City where he was the scapegoat for the Thunder underachieving and getting booted from the playoffs in the first round. He took on the brunt of the blame and was constantly berated by OKC fans for not being willing to take a bench role. He sounded frustrated at the end of the season and lamented not having a defined role with the team. It should be mentioned here that in their first post-Melo season, the Thunder went from the fourth seed in the West to the sixth seed.
So viewed in that light, you would have expected Melo to refuse to come off the bench for Houston. Yet, for the first time in his entire career, Melo didn’t start. He didn’t start Houston’s first game of the season against New Orleans. He didn’t start their second game of the season against the Lakers. In fact, in his ten games with Houston, he only started twice and those came in games where Harden was out with an injury.
Oh, and his 4-6 record with Houston? The Rockets went 7-8 in their first 15 games without him. To blame him for Houston’s early woes would be rather harsh and would do a disservice to the Rockets’ general malaise and poor overall defending at the onset of the season. Again, part of that falls on Melo, but certainly not more than anyone else. Everyone had a hand in the 11-14 debacle to open the year.
For the last few years, many have wondered if Melo’s game translated to today’s NBA. In that respect, it’s abundantly clear that Melo wanted this to work out in Houston. He adjusted his game. He took a higher percentage of shots from behind the three-point line (53%) than ever before. He took a lower percentage of long twos (13%) than ever before. He put forth an effort that NBA fans thought he couldn’t or wouldn’t. He was a grand experiment intended to help take Houston to the NBA mountaintop.
Unfortunately for the Houston Rockets and Carmelo Anthony, the experiment failed.