SLAM Top 50: Carmelo Anthony, No. 22

Well. I feel pretty stupid.

Since I’m easily duped, I followed the cool basketball writer trend of underrating the everliving hell out of Carmelo Anthony. I didn’t go Full ESPN, which ranked him somewhere between Anthony Bennett and Dennis Smith Jr.’s infant son Dennis Smith Jr. Jr., but I had Carmelo Anthony in the 40s.

He was below Al Horford, and I’m glad the smarter people at this magazine corrected for me, because I am an idiot, and I am ashamed, and I am going to be proven instantly wrong.

Carmelo Anthony was traded for an expired Clif bar and proprietary laundry tokens this past weekend. He is now on a team that will force him to realize his true destiny of being one of the best third options and facilitating power forwards who’s ever lived.

There is no way in hell Carmelo would’ve figured this out unless he was behind Russell Westbrook (ball dominant maniac) and Paul George (so good Melo will graciously move to the 4), and now he is. If things go like they should, this part of his career should be his legacy.

Remember, he’s been in this position before and he wound up becoming the most important player on a team full of MVPs, future Hall of Farmers, all-time greats, and Harrison Barnes. After his 2016 Olympics stint, he’s the all-time leading scorer in Team USA history. On the game he pulled it off, he added eight boards. A few games later, he broke the Team USA rebounding record, beating Dream Team-era David Robinson.

In games when he wasn’t scoring, he deferred to better teammates. In a nailbiter against France, where Klay Thompson was doing stupid cheat code things he does once every two months now, Melo had five assists and Klay had 30 points.

This is what it’s going to be like. This is like when the Pistons got ‘Sheed, or when the Lakers got Pau in ‘08. He is a matchup nightmare the Thunder got for pennies, and they just got catapulted from fringe contender to a team that could be aggressively turning down Donald Trump next September.

Call him the Final Piece, call him Olympic Melo, call him Ultimate Twilight Melo, call him Hoodie Melo. All that matters is he’s not Disgruntled Knicks star Carmelo Anthony anymore, and that’s what’s going to make us all look dumb.

I mean, was disengaged, grumpy, ISO Hell Melo really a less valuable NBA player than Goran Dragic next year, which is something I wrote down on a list a month ago? Or did we just forget what this guy is capable of when he believes in the team around him?

The answer is the last one.

The only real question here is this: Who on the staff knew this trade was coming? Why was this due two days after the trade? Is Adam Figman a member of the Illuminati? If he is, why did the Illuminati decide to start letting people wear tee shirts to work?

The Illuminati is slipping. Carmelo no longer is.

Previous Rankings:
2016: No. 15
2015: No. 13
2014: No. 7
2013: No. 4

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2017-18—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

No. 50 – Dion Waiters
No. 49 – Ben Simmons 
No. 48 – Brook Lopez
No. 47 — Harrison Barnes
No. 46 — Jrue Holiday
No. 45 — Lonzo Ball
No. 44 — Myles Turner
No. 43 — Goran Dragic
No. 42 — Andre Drummond
No. 41 — Al Horford
No. 40 — LaMarcus Aldridge
No. 39 — Kevin Love
No. 38 — Paul Millsap
No. 37 — Hassan Whiteside
No. 36 — Andrew Wiggins
No. 35 — Marc Gasol
No. 34 – DeAndre Jordan
No. 33 — Bradley Beal
No. 32 — Kemba Walker
No. 31 — CJ McCollum
No. 30 — Devin Booker
No. 29 — Nikola Jokic
No. 28 — Joel Embiid
No. 27 — Mike Conley 
No. 26 — Kyle Lowry
No. 25 — Rudy Gobert

No. 24 — Gordon Hayward
No. 23 — Kristaps Porzingis