Philadelphia 76ers: Maybe signing Carmelo Anthony made sense after all

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After watching Carmelo Anthony go off with the Portland Trail Blazers, I wonder if the Philadelphia 76ers have a serious case of (non)buyer’s remorse?

The Philadelphia 76ers are a team of… unique composition.

With a super-sized starting five measuring in at an average height of 6-foot-9, a rotating pair of 6-foot-tall point guards, and enough 6-foot-7 wings to pack a mid-sized car, Elton Brand has filled out his roster a very specific kind of player – one who can switch off on defense, and spot-up shoot from beyond the arc.

But boy oh boy could the team use some auxiliary playmaking.

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Not playmaking in the traditional sense, aka a point guard a la T.J. McConnell, but in the literal sense of the term: One who makes plays.

Last season, that player was Jimmy Butler.

Say what you will about Butler now, as he’s certainly soiled the love and affection he once owned in South Philly, but when the Sixers needed buckets in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, he could be reliably counted on to make plays, juke out a defender, and put two points up on the scoreboard at bare minimum.

So far this season, that has been the team’s biggest flaw.

While Ben Simmons did make his first 3 not one month ago – a moment that will live on in the minds of Philly fans for years to come – he’s still far from an effective scorer in a traditional offense. The same goes for Joel Embiid, but for basically the opposite reason. You see, Embiid is certainly a walking bucket, but his poor handles make it all but impossible to run an offense with JoJo planted at the top of the key.

Tobias Harris? Maybe one day, but he’s far more comfortable playing the Robert Covington role as a spot-up shooter, albeit one with a more diverse offensive game at the expense of elite wing defense.

Josh Richardson? Again, maybe so, but not yet. If JRich can keep playing like he’s played in the last week, then yeah, the 76ers may have traded one fourth-quarter point guard for another, but until he can back these recent flashes up with some sustained shine, Philly may consistently struggle to close out even average games.

No, for the 76ers to get really good, they need to find a walking bucket who can come off the bench and add some fourth-quarter je ne sais quoi.

They need a player like Carmelo Anthony.

Yes, Carmelo Anthony, the player all 30 NBA teams, and the Philly fanbase specifically scoffed at signing for the better part of a year finally earned a contract a month into the 2019-20 NBA season with the Portland Trail Blazers and has returned to the basketball world like a bullet into the night.

Initially (presumably) cast as Portland’s sixth man coming off the bench, Melo has earned five straight starts at power forward and sits comfortably third on the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game.

While he still doesn’t provide much pop anywhere else on the court, as the 35-year-old is only averaging 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists versus 2.6 turnovers, Melo has been the very best version of himself with the ball in his hands – shooting 37.5 percent from 3 point range on 4.8 attempts while all but forgoing his old-school, ball hogging ways.

On nights where the Sixers can’t buy a bucket, that ability would be a godsend.

For a while there, it felt like Anthony-to-the-Sixers was all but an inevitability, as Brand and Melo have a good relationship off the court, but for whatever reason, it never happened.

Next. Turns out Marc Gasol is Al Horford 2.0. dark

Instead, the Philadelphia 76ers decided to go with their current crop of super-sized starters, mighty mouse backup point guards, and interchangeable wings. Was it the right choice to pick up a player like Trey Burke over the 10-time All-Star, who would currently rank sixth on the team in points per game? Probably so, but unfortunately, that’s just how the ball doinks sometimes. Regardless of how Melo’s reunion tour shook out, the Sixers were at risk of looking foolish. Personally, I’d rather look foolish with a 16 point a night scorer coming off the bench than not.