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.

Ray AllenCelticsSG5036109
Gilbert ArenasWizardsSG493498
Lamar OdomLakersPF48331410
John WallWizardsPG47NR13NR
OJ MayoGrizzliesSG4646812
Al HorfordHawksC45NR6NR
Jason KiddMavsPG44451210
Joakim NoahBullsC43NR5NR
LaMarcus AldridgeBlazersPF42391312
David WestHornetsPF4131128
Monta EllisWarriorsSG40NR7NR
Andrew BogutBucksC39NR4NR
Yao MingRocketsC38NR3NR
Brandon JenningsBucksPG37NR11NR
Zach RandolphGrizzliesPF36NR11NR
Stephen CurryWarriorsPG35NR10NR
David LeeWarriorsPF34NR10NR
Brook LopezNetsC33NR2NR
Gerald WallaceBobcatsSF32NR7NR
Manu GinobiliSpursSG312967
Tony ParkerSpursPG301593
Kevin GarnettCelticsPF291393
Rudy GayGrizzliesSF284469
Josh SmithHawksPF2740813
Andre Iguodala76ersSG262656
Al JeffersonJazzPF252377
Russell WestbrookThunderPG24NR8NR
Chauncey BillupsNuggetsPG231975
Tyreke EvansKingsPG22NR6NR
Danny GrangerPacersSF212155
Carlos BoozerBullsPF203269
Paul PierceCelticsSF191744
Joe JohnsonHawksSG182044
Rajon RondoCelticsPG172758
Amar’e StoudemireKnicksPF161656
Steve NashSunsPG152246
Tim DuncanSpursPF14641
Chris BoshHeatPF131334
Derrick RoseBullsPG121834
Brandon RoyBlazersSG111033
Pau GasolLakersPF101425
Dirk NowiztkiMavsPF9912
Deron WilliamsJazzPG81122
Chris PaulHornetsPG7411
Carmelo AnthonyNuggetsSF6732

• 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.