Carmelo Anthony will be Oklahoma City’s starting power forward, according to coach Billy Donovan and Melo himself. This gives the Thunder a very cool and good starting five with tons of switching fluidity on defense; much more importantly: LOL.
Melo resisted the full-time switch to power forward for years in New York! For multiple years! Almost exactly five years ago, he publicly shot down the idea of a permanent shift to the 4, when it had already become clear that both he and the Knicks were more efficient and dangerous under that configuration; when he, and not Draymond Green, could have been the vanguard of the 4's transition to the hybrid wing position it is today. He was an extremely dope power forward on the USA national team. He was an extremely dope power forward when injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire forced him to play the position for long stretches of 2011-12. He might have been the best power forward in the NBA if he’d stuck with it!
Instead, the Knicks spent whole seasons cramming Stoudemire’s carcass and/or doofuses like Andrea Bargnani, Kenyon Martin, Lou Amundson, and Jason Smith into their ever-shittier starting lineups, lagging years behind the rest of the league’s trends toward spacing and switching, so that Melo could log most of his minutes at 3, where he felt more comfortable. And now, roughly 19 seconds after arriving in Oklahoma City, he is ready to make the change.
Make no mistake: Age has eroded some of what made Melo-at-the-4 such a thrilling idea back in 2012 (and 2011, and 2003), but he’s still well more than quick, rangy, and skilled enough at the offensive end to present huge matchup problems for most opposing defenses. And the move to power forward allows the Thunder to keep Andre Roberson as the starter at their second wing spot next to Paul George, giving them two terrific defensive wings with the size to switch everything. Between those two and center Steven Adams, OKC should be able to cover for most of Melo’s defensive shortcomings, so long as he works and communicates more like National Team Melo and less like Knicks Melo. Accepting the change in the first place is a positive sign. All of which is to say: This rules!
I suppose, if you wanted to, you could heap scorn on Melo for waiting until he’d landed on a star-studded Western Conference contender to discover the personal flexibility to make a change he should have embraced more than a half-decade ago, but I prefer to enjoy a nice hearty laugh at the Knicks’ expense. There’s something wonderfully fitting about the eternally self-sabotaging, backward-looking Knicks, an organization that has not been able to muster more than a coughing, spasmodic hurr the magic of the Garden to justify its own existence since before the dawn of this millennium, losing whole years to Phil Jackson’s 1996-ass basketball takes and Melo’s stubborn rejection of trends older than his legal ability to buy a beer. The Knicks are purgatory; they make even Oklahoma City look like paradise.