Thunder's Carmelo Anthony 'accepting' new off-the-ball role

NBA.com Global on Dec 24, 2017 07:50 AM
Thunder's Carmelo Anthony 'accepting' new off-the-ball role
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 9: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots a free throw against the Denver Nuggets on November 9, 2017 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Bart YoungNBAE via Getty Images)

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As ESPN's Royce Young wrote after the Thunder escaped with a three-point win over Atlanta on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), OKC is trying to make Carmelo Anthony more efficient by making more of his shots off the catch and from beyond the arc:

"I think for me it's just a matter of accepting that role. That's all it is," Anthony said. "Realizing that's what it's going to be, these are the type of shots I'm going to get, this is the type of offense we're going to be running and accepting that, and working on that role. That's something that I've kind of been doing over the past week, is allowing myself to accept that role and do whatever I gotta do to make this team win."

Anthony's seven made 3-pointers and 12 3-point attempts were both season-highs.

"I felt like during the course of the season, those opportunities were there," Donovan said, "but we didn't have a good enough recognition or awareness of them, and I think we're really more mindful of locating him on the break, in penetration, to create those shots for him. And he's as good as anybody in the league when he's shooting behind the line. He's just a great, great shooter from behind there."

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A focus for Donovan has been to reduce "nonpaint 2s," as he likes to call them. That has meant trying to break some of the habits of Anthony, who had made a Hall of Fame career primarily in the midrange. But the Thunder saw Anthony as a stretch option, playing alongside George and Westbrook as a floor-spacing marksman. It has been a work in progress for Anthony, and he has talked often about "sacrifice," intentionally making extra passes and seeing his scoring and attempts go down, but it's something he said he is gaining more clarity on.

Anthony's effective field-goal percentage is 59 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers and 39 percent on pull-up jumpers. That's a much bigger difference than there is with the league as a whole (about 54 percent vs. 43 percent).

His catch-and-shoot three-point attempts have been worth 1.15 points per shot. His pull-up two-point jumpers have been worth 0.66. So having him shoot more off the catch would certainly help the Thunder, who have had two of their more efficient offensive games of the season this week.

But it will take a lot of work to get Anthony to change his shot chart. He has still taken 45 percent of his shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line) this season. That's the third highest rate among 167 players who have taken 200 total shots, behind only those of Dirk Nowitzki and Evan Turner. Only LaMarcus Aldridge has attempted more total mid-range shots than Anthony.

And Anthony's decrease in efficiency (his true shooting percentage is a career-low 50 percent) is about more than just mid-range shots vs. threes. He's actually taken a higher percentage of his shots from 3-point range (36 percent) than he ever has, but he has seen a greater reduction in shots from the paint than from mid-range. Of his 473 shots, only 55 (12 percent) have come in the restricted area. That career-low rate goes along with a career-low free throw rate (22 attempts per 100 shots from the field).

No matter where the jump shots are coming from, layups and trips to the line are better.

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