Los Angeles Lakers: How Carmelo Anthony has turned back the clock

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his three pointer to take a 103-89 lead over the Charlotte Hornets (Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE.)

Many questioned just how much Carmelo Anthony had left in the tank when he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this past offseason.

Well, the 37-year-old has certainly silenced those concerns early on as he continues to be a bright spot for the Lakers amidst a very slow start. Anthony has averaged 17.6 points per night while shooting 50 percent from the field and a scorching hot 52 percent from 3-point range.

Although 11 games is a small sample size, the 10-time All-Star is playing his best basketball in years, and he looks like he will be a massive piece for the Lakers off the bench this season.

Taking a closer look at Carmelo Anthony’s hot start with the Los Angeles Lakers

The biggest reason why Anthony has meshed so seamlessly with the Lakers is that he knows his role. When switching teams previously, Anthony expressed his displeasure with coming off the bench and playing a lesser role in the offense. On the Los Angeles Lakers, he has fully embraced being one of the first players off the bench and providing a second-unit spark.

Offensively, the Lakers have not needed Anthony to be the dominant isolation scorer he once, even though he has still shown flashes of being that guy. Instead, they have utilized him in a catch-and-shoot role, where 51.5 percent of his shots have come from this season, per NBA.com/stats.

For reference, 28.9 percent of Anthony’s shots came on catch-and-shoot opportunities in 2019-20, followed by 29.6 percent in 2020-21. He is letting it fly with no hesitation this season, and the results speak for themselves.

Taking a closer look, 47.8 percent of those looks have come from deep this year, compared to just 3.7 from 2-point range. Anthony is shooting an incredibly impressive 33-of-65 (50.8 percent) on his catch-and-shoot triples this season, lighting it up from distance.

This has been a life-saver for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are currently trying to piece together the puzzle with Russell Westbrook. Of course, Westbrook is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to shooting, so having a player like Anthony to complement him has been a welcomed boost.

This Westbrook-Anthony pairing has been clicking early this season, with the pair thriving off one another on the floor. First off, Anthony has received 91 passes from Westbrook this season, by far the most he has gotten from any teammate. Anthony is helping Westbrook rack up his assists by shooting 23-of-46 (50 percent) from the field off of those passes, giving the guard 18 total assists on the year. While Westbrook has caused some concern early on, his chemistry with Anthony, whom he played with on the OKC Thunder in 2017-18, has been a bright spot.

All in all, Anthony’s transition to Los Angeles has been nothing but smooth sailing to this point in the season. The forward looks rejuvenated in his new environment as he is playing his best ball in years.

Perhaps playing on a team at the forefront of title contention has given him that added chip on his shoulder, as the veteran would love to add a championship to his list of accomplishments. It is hard to argue against Anthony being the way-too-early favorite for Sixth Man of the Year after a hot start for the Los Angeles Lakers.