by Myles Brown / @mdotbrown

Let me ask you something. Had Carmelo Anthony decided to take his talents to South Beach this summer rather than LeBron James, would there have been a similar outcry?

Probably not. Right?

Granted, the circumstances are different, Melo wasn’t playing for his hometown and certainly doesn’t have the cache to commandeer an entire network, but both of those are reflections of a larger issue.

Expectations.Carmelo Anthony

Plainly put, most folks don’t believe Melo is capable of the same things as LeBron or Dwyane Wade. ‘Capable of what?’ you might ask. ‘He’s arguably the most complete scorer in the league, one of its most clutch players and as recently as two years ago was two games away from a Finals appearance.’ All of which is true, but considering their athleticism, playmaking abilities, productivity and overall success, ultimately you’d concede that James and Wade are the better players.

Melo would probably be fine with that. As he should be. There’s 300+ other guys keeping him company in that category. What he does take issue with, however, is the increasing volume and frequency of folks questioning whether he’s even a franchise player.

By definition every team in the NBA has a ‘best’ player, a talent that distinguishes himself from his peers and whether by merit or sheer necessity becomes the units focal point and de facto leader. But a franchise player is one who not only distinguishes himself from his peers, he separates himself from practically every other teams best player by exhibiting the talent, aptitude and character needed to lead his mates on a championship run. Not every team has a franchise player.

Has Carmelo Anthony displayed the skill and will to be held in such regard? The Denver Nuggets think so. Problem is, Carmelo Anthony doesn’t want to be a Denver Nugget, presumably because he doesn’t like their chances of winning.

Now this could be attributed to instability in the Rocky Mountain state and the recent happenings in South Beach, but at what point does Melo have to assume responsibility? Sure, he can put the ball in the basket, but can he do so more efficiently? Furthermore, what about the opposite end of the court, you know where the other guy gets to shoot? Does he take defense as seriously as scoring? Yeah, his rebounding has improved, but couldn’t it be better? And yes, it’s questionable if the characters currently under contract in Denver can even be led, but ask yourself this too: Has Melo done enough to lead them?

Regardless, Melo doesn’t necessarily owe Denver any more than what he’s already given and this final year of his contract. However, the more important question is whether this newfound desire to ply his trade elsewhere is a matter of competitive spirit or mere convenience. In other words, does he want a team where he can improve or one that will mask his deficiencies? If not Denver, where can a volume scorer, poor defender, underwhelming boardsman and passive leader succeed?

I honestly don’t mean to harp on the mans shortcomings, but when discussing the leagues top ten players it’s no longer a matter of what one can do as much as what one can’t.

In this profession greatness is solely defined through continually meeting and raising expectations. Another trip to the Conference Finals isn’t guaranteed and Syracuse seems like decades ago. We’ve begun to lower our expectations of Carmelo Anthony. Of course this doesn’t matter nearly as much as what he expects of himself, which we’ll find out soon enough. Only then will any other answers become clear.

Now if you’re asking me anyway, I’d have to say no. Melo isn’t a franchise player. Then again, only five guys are. What he is, however, is the sixth best player in the NBA.

That’s still pretty great.

SLAMonline TOP 50 PLAYERS OVERALL RANK POSITION RANK
Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 10 9
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 9 8
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 8 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 7 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR
David Lee Warriors PF 34 NR 10 NR
Brook Lopez Nets C 33 NR 2 NR
Gerald Wallace Bobcats SF 32 NR 7 NR
Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 31 29 6 7
Tony Parker Spurs PG 30 15 9 3
Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 29 13 9 3
Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 28 44 6 9
Josh Smith Hawks PF 27 40 8 13
Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 26 26 5 6
Al Jefferson Jazz PF 25 23 7 7
Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 24 NR 8 NR
Chauncey Billups Nuggets PG 23 19 7 5
Tyreke Evans Kings PG 22 NR 6 NR
Danny Granger Pacers SF 21 21 5 5
Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 20 32 6 9
Paul Pierce Celtics SF 19 17 4 4
Joe Johnson Hawks SG 18 20 4 4
Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 17 27 5 8
Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 16 16 5 6
Steve Nash Suns PG 15 22 4 6
Tim Duncan Spurs PF 14 6 4 1
Chris Bosh Heat PF 13 13 3 4
Derrick Rose Bulls PG 12 18 3 4
Brandon Roy Blazers SG 11 10 3 3
Pau Gasol Lakers PF 10 14 2 5
Dirk Nowiztki Mavs PF 9 9 1 2
Deron Williams Jazz PG 8 11 2 2
Chris Paul Hornets PG 7 4 1 1
Carmelo Anthony Nuggets SF 6 7 3 2

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.