Is Carmelo Anthony Worthy of the Hall of Fame?
In many ways Carmelo Anthony’s legacy is already solidified. After all it is safe to say that Anthony, now entering his 14th season, has many more years of basketball behind him than ahead of him. At age 32 Anthony is already a lock to make the hall of fame. Some might question his place in the hall because of his perceived lack of team and playoff success, but he more than matches up with his peers. Even if Anthony were never to play another NBA game, it's hard to argue that he is less worthy of the HOF than other prolific wing scorers like Alex English, George Gervin, Bernard King, Dominique Wilkins and Adrian Dantley. All five of these players managed to enter Naismith despite little team success.
Anthony is one of the best scorers the game has ever seen. Anthony led the league in scoring with a career best 28.7 PPG for the Knicks in 2012-13. Anthony is already in the top 30 for total points, and his 24.9 PPG career average is 13th all-time. Not many people question Anthony’s scoring prowess, but they do question many other facets of his game. Anthony’s defense and passing are usually the two most criticized aspects of his game. Throughout his career Anthony has suffered from spells where he doesn’t look for his teammates and plays too much iso-ball as well as times where he appears to lack defensive effort and intensity. Anthony clearly doesn’t pass or defend on a high level consistently, but fans that have really watched him throughout his career know he can do both in the right situation. When Carmelo’s head is in the right place he generally does a good job on defense. Look no further than his head to head matchups with LeBron which he always seems to step up for. Melo is often a ball hog when he needs to be, but when he has had solid teams around him he is a strong and willing passer. The problem is many times a contested shot by Carmelo has a better chance of going in than an open shot by one of his teammates. If you read through the list of Anthony’s teammates throughout his career you can more than understand why he shoots a lot.
Now to the “lack” of team success, the main calling card for Anthony’s critics. If you base a player’s career off whether he wins or reaches an NBA Finals, then yes, Anthony has been a failure. But this is an absurd way to judge a player. Other than never reaching the finals, Anthony has had a lot of team success. In 13 seasons Anthony has made the playoffs 10 times, including all 7 seasons he was a member of the Denver Nuggets. Anthony has only advanced past the first round twice, but his playoff numbers are just as good as his regular season totals. Anthony did lead the 2008-09 Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals, but reaching the NBA Finals is a difficult task in today’s game. We have now had 16 championships won since the turn of the century, and 14 of them had at least two hall of famers in their prime. The only two that didn’t were the 2003-04 Pistons who had 4 All-Stars and the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks who had Dirk Nowitzki playing out of his mind. Anthony has never had another hall of fame caliber player to play with, which makes it hard to criticize him for not winning a title.
Anthony has also had a lot of team success outside of the NBA, proving that he can play on a winning team. Anthony is arguably the most decorated Men’s Olympic basketball player of all time with 4 medals, including 3 Gold. In addition Anthony won the NCAA national title in 2003 as a freshman in his lone collegiate season at Syracuse.
Anthony has never been the perfect player like LeBron James , and his game certainly has its flaws. Nonetheless, Anthony has unfairly been one of the most overly criticized superstars in league history. As Anthony reaches the latter stages of his career, fans should start appreciating everything Anthony has been able to accomplish rather than pointing out what he hasn’t.