Portland Trail Blazers: One statistic to define each frontcourt starter’s 2019-20 season

Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /
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Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

No. 4: Carmelo Anthony

The statistic: Portland is 18-7 when Anthony shoots over 40 percent from the field, and are 4-19 when he shoots under.

It serves as a testament to both Anthony’s offensive longevity as well as how dire the straits had become in Portland. But nearly two decades into his career, teams are living-and-dying on the inked right shoulder of future first-ballot Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony’s status as an all-time top-shelf bucket maker should never have been a dispute; even now, he’s scoring at a rate that are mostly uncharted waters for players in their 17th season. In doing so, he’s rewritten his career arc, going from an aging basketball vagabond to a player who knows where his career will end.

Even so, efficiency — the same word the media attached to that cornrow-rocking 19-year-old phenom from Syracuse — continues to tell a part of the story, fair or unfair.

In 50 games with the Portland Trail Blazers, Anthony is averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, on 42.6 percent from the field, and an especially welcoming 37.1 percent from 3-point range and 84.3 percent from the charity stripe.

All things considered, that’s special. The only food for thought comes here: in 50 games, Anthony has shot above that 40 percent landmark in 25 games, and, as you might have guessed, has shot under 40 percent in 25 games as well.

Viewpoints that rely solely on efficiency are problematic. Anthony’s gravity, and offensive resumè command respect, and there have been nights where he’s off, and makes a timely bucket that allows Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum borrowed time to rest for a possession later down the line. He’s also always been underrated as a passer and help defender, and little-to-no teammates have agreed with the media, as it relates to the idea of him being a bad teammate.

This number just correlates. In the games in which Anthony passes his routine marks — shooting above that 40 percent — the Blazers are 18-7. Over an 82-game season, that would make them the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and a 59-win team. On the flip side, the Blazers are 4-19 when he shoots under.

This doesn’t mean it’s time to shot track when action resumes. Just as efficiency has done historically, it devalues everything else. Though he’s no longer a Most Valuable Player candidate, he’s valuable because of his penchant for the little things that make teammates better.

Think back to the Blazers-Rockets game on Jan. 29, where Anthony’s flamethrower was off, but he made up for it with intangibles, grabbing 13 rebounds, dishing out five assists, and putting any starter that wasn’t Russell Westbrook in basketball prison.

3½ games currently separate the Blazers from the No. 8 seed. Should they sneak in, it’ll likely have been done because Anthony created some separation of his own between these two statistics.

And in great irony, he’ll probably use his patented jab steps to do so.