The Portland Trailblazers needed to make their move before the season slipped out of their reach. What they did was grant NBA Twitters wishes and gave Carmelo Anthony a new home. Melo has been without a team since he was waived by the Rockets after just 10 games.
Since then the internet and social media have maintained a weird obsession with Melo’s status. Whether it be his trainers posting workout videos or rumors of teams interested in signing him, the fandom has been maintained for over a year now.
With Portland signing Melo to a one year deal, the peoples wish will finally be granted. They get to watch Melo play again. But what does this mean for Portland, who has started the year off pretty miserably going 5-9 and looking lackluster even in their wins after finishing last season in the Western Conference Finals.
While Damian Lillard has been his incredible self to start the season, leading the team in scoring and assists with 28.6 PPG and 7.1 APG, the team has failed to rise to a high level of play.
CJ McCollum is off to a slow start averaging a career low 35.6 percent from three-point range. The team is still without Jusuf Nurkic and most recently lost Zach Collins for a few months to a shoulder injury.
Where the issues might stem from is Portland’s lack of improvement in the summer. The team signed very few impact players and lost multiple role players to free agency. Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Canter, Seth Curry and Jake Layman all left for other teams this summer leaving the Blazers specifically weak at the forward position.
While the team did make some moves to address their needs like trading for Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside and drafting Nassir Little, these have not been enough to make up for the lack of depth the roster now has.
With the signing of Melo, the Blazers now have an experience and extremely accomplished forward on the roster who is a strong offensive threat. But that is not where the Blazers will need Melo most.
With the loss of Collins, the Blazers lack strong defensive presence with both Collins and Nurkic out for the forseeable future. If Melo wants to make an impact on this team they need him to be a reliable defensive player as well as a productive offensive one.
The Blazers rank 23rd in opponent’s points per game, 25th in opponent’s turnovers per game and rank in the bottom five for oppopents made free throws a game, opponents free throw percentage and opponents rebounds per game. Right now, the Blazers foul too much and can’t get boards.
While not a tremendous rebounder Melo has consistently averaged 5-6 rebounds a game throughout his career and can most likely rise to the challenge of getting more boards. What Blazer fans should worry about is the fouls.
Melo is just below 3 fouls a game for his career. Most of the years he averages more than 3 were during the prime of his career and when he was his most athletic.
Now that he is older and not as quick or explosive my worry is that he will only further the Blazers problem of giving easy points away at the line.
What I believe is working the Blazers favor is that Melo knows this is his last shot. There is no other option after this. No team wanted to sign him for a whole year. He now realizes that he will have to make sacrifices that are necessary for the betterment of the team.
If this is the case, he could make a huge impact on this team. If he is the same old Melo it will be time for the Blazers to pack their things, put Lillard on the load management train and tank for a good pick because the Blazers are in the same situation as Melo. They have no other option. They can’t risk trading a player like McCollum or a young prospect like Little and Afernee Simons but they have too much talent to sit and tank. The next month might be one of the most important months for the future of Blazer basketball because it will tell the fans, the organization, the players if this team has a chance to win or if we should all buckle up and prepare for some bad basketball to be played in Portland.