Carmelo Anthony is going to the Chicago Bulls. Well, not really, at least not yet; however, how would that sound? It’s not exactly fitting in an immediate way, mostly because Melo isn’t exactly tailor-made to fit the Bulls picture of winning the championship, but a case can be made for Melo to blend in well. Perhaps Melo signing with the Bulls could save him from wasting away on the New York Knicks, but will it save Chicago?
Anthony will opt out of his contract by the end of the 2013-2014 season, giving him the chance to choose where he’s headed to. Maybe he’ll choose to stay a Knick by way of an amazing plan by the Knicks’ front office, or he could go to the Los Angeles Laker, Phoenix Suns, or the Chicago Bulls, just to name a few options. It seems that Chicago might be one of the most attractive choices; we definitely know he’s not pining to head to the Milwaukee Bucks. For Bulls fans, this might seem like a very shaky move on paper, but if you wrap your mind around the details of just how Melo would fit in, the idea is not as bad as it may seem.
Let’s take a look at all the positives that Melo could bring to the Bulls. Obviously, he’s a scoring juggernaut, and that really goes without saying. At this moment, as the regular season is winding down, Melo is averaging 28 points per game, which puts him at the runner-up spot on the leader board for scoring in the league, placing him right behind Kevin Durant. His shots are falling pretty steadily, as he has a field goal percentage of 45.3 percent. From downtown, he’s shooting a very serviceable 42.4 percent. He’s pretty much a threat anywhere on the offensive side of the hardwood.
The next big thing about Melo is his clutch factor. For his entire career, he’s shot an impressive 41.8 percent in crunch time aka clutch time. The Chicago Bulls are definitely in need of a second go-to player and Melo fits the bill in that sense. At the end of games with the Bulls, when Derrick Rose is healthy of course, everyone knows who’s going to have the ball. It’s essential to have that second option that’s proven and not afraid to take big shots under pressure. Melo definitely doesn’t shy away from the moment, and he’s always willing to be the man to make the buzzer-beating bucket. Aside from that he pulls down boards well, averaging 8.5 rebounds a game, and his money from the charity stripe. The biggest reason that Melo could work on the Bulls is that they need a second scoring All-Star to lead the running of the Bulls.
So, why not Melo? In a nutshell: he’s a liability on defense. The problem is that he doesn’t play defense, and Tom Thibodeau lives and breathes defense. It’s not quite an open and shut case because players like Carlos Boozer, who isn’t particularly a lockdown defender, works well in Thibodeau’s system. Some of Melo’s teammates, like Iman Shumpert, have gotten on Melo’s case for some of his brain farts or laziness on the defensive end. With his current cast, Thibodeau’s Bulls rank number two in defensive rating in the NBA, according to basketball reference. If Melo makes the move to Chicago, he needs to shake the rust of his shield and play some D.
Another pretty loud complaint about Melo’s game is his lack of team play. He averages just under three assists per game, and he takes 22 field goal attempts per game. Many argue that he’s a pure scorer, but you do have to share the ball. Anthony is so used to having control of the ball and taking a hearty amount of shots, but how will that work in Chicago if he has to share the ball with D. Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and the rest of the team? Rose is definitely not a selfish player, but he does need his touches. Melo has never really played with another high-scoring All-Star in their prime, so this may be an issue. Yes, Melo can create his own shots, which is a plus for the Bulls, but he lacks the skill to distribute or at least he lacks the motivation to dish out some dimes. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook work well with each other, and they both put up big scoring numbers, but then again Melo isn’t Durantula.
At the end of the day, if Melo decides to trek over to Chicago, it could definitely work out for the best; however, if he doesn’t, it’s not going to be the end of the world, and Chicago definitely still has a chance at winning it all in the near future.