Three reasons the Portland Trail Blazers need Carmelo Anthony in Orlando

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) /

Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony is questionable on his involvement when the NBA returns. Why do the Blazers need him on court in Orlando?

Several NBA players have questioned the viability of the NBA returning in August at Disney World in Orlando. It’s not that they don’t want to play, but that the details and questions surrounding the return have meant that some of the more senior players don’t feel safe with the proposal. Among these is Portland Trail Blazers forward, Carmelo Anthony.

Melo, as one of the senior players not just on this team, but in the league, has every right to be concerned about the details around the league’s return. For example, there are still uncertainties around the amount of players a team that can bring in its squad to Orlando.

It’s possible that Melo is just waiting for more details to emerge before he commits, but for now, he is uncertain about making himself available.

The Blazers need Melo when the season resumes, what are the three main reason they need him to be there in Orlando?

Veteran leadership

This team isn’t stacked full of experience like some of the other Western Conference contenders. They obviously have Damian Lillard, who has been part of numerous playoff runs, but outside of him they really only have Trevor Ariza who has serious playoff experience.

Melo has played in over 1100 regular season NBA games while also playing in 72 playoff games. His nous and veteran leadership will be needed in what is effectively a seven-game stretch of regular season games that will have a playoff like atmosphere.

Guys like Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic have played in playoff series, but the experience of Ariza and Melo of over 10-plus years in the league and multiple playoff runs will be massive down the stretch.

Dame commented earlier in the year how Melo took control of the team huddle a few times when he joined the team, this is exactly the type of leadership this team craves alongside follow-me leader Dame.

Floor spacing

Though Melo is a streaky shooter, we all know how he can heat up quickly and give you strong shot creation in either the starting unit or off the bench. Though his overall career numbers aren’t great from three, since 2010/11 he has shot 36.5 percent from three in the regular season.

Though the Blazers defense will be shored up now with the return of Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic, both centers in Nurkic and Whiteside aren’t floor spacing options, so the three-point shooting at the four spot of Melo and potentially Collins will be vital.

Surrounding Dame with at least three shooters so he can run high pick and roll is key. The below breakdown shows how well Dame and Melo played together offensively.

Dame running high pick and roll with Nurkic, with the floor spaced by Ariza, Melo and McCollum, could be lethal. We haven’t seen this yet, but Nurkic’s superior screen setting could open up things a bunch more.

Melo is still good enough to get his own shot against bench units. So even if Coach Terry Stotts has to alternate his lineups so he can get Melo against weaker players or mismatches with smaller lineups, then this would work in this end of season run.


Prior to the return of Nurkic and Collins, Melo was the second tallest player in the Blazers rotation behind Whiteside. This was a massive problem all season when it came to rebounding, defending bigs or even defending the biggest wing players like Paul George or Jayson Tatum.

Prior to the Kent Bazemore for Ariza trade, Bazemore was playing the four at times, while Melo sometimes had to play the five. Compounding the issues this team already had with size.

Melo isn’t a plus defender but playing with one of the smaller backcourt’s in the league in McCollum and Dame, the rest of the rotation is required to rebound and defend at a higher level to make up for this lack of size.

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It’s not likely that Melo will play the three in Orlando, but he will still be needed to provide production on the wing as there aren’t a dearth of options on this roster.

Melo has been a saviour in a lot of ways for the Blazers this season. After a year away from the game, he came in with very little notice and started all 50 games that he played. He may not be an All-Star anymore but on and off the floor he is still a respected player.

After only one playoff appearance in the last six years, maybe we will see some vintage Melo performances in Orlando if he can be convinced to play!