While bigging up Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and LeBron James, Paul Pierce gives Carmelo Anthony the nod as the hardest player he’s ever had to guard in the NBA.
Pierce writes that Melo’s unfair combination of size, athleticism and scoring ability makes him a nightmare to check.
Per The Players’ Tribune:
If I had to single one guy out who is the most difficult player to guard in the league, it would have to be Carmelo. He’s a unique blend of being big, strong, and athletic while also having a world-class shooting touch and a natural ability to get to the rim. That’s what sets him apart — every facet of his game is elite.
Some great players will have one or two particular skills that make them special. But Carmelo can do everything, which puts you in a baaad situation as a defender. A lot of guys might shoot better from certain areas, so you try to force them elsewhere on the floor. Carmelo doesn’t have a spot on the floor where he can’t consistently hit shots. […] In my opinion, his combination of physicality and shooting touch is unmatched in the NBA. You can’t take one second off when you’re matched up against him.
Kobe is one of the best scorers in NBA history, but I don’t have as much trouble with him in the post as I do with Carmelo. LeBron is a great post-up player, but if you get him to settle for the jumper on some nights, you might be able to slow him down if his shot is off. That’s not the case with Melo. If you give him space to shoot, he’ll make it many more times than he misses it.