In his 16 year NBA career, Carmelo Anthony has been to just one Conference Finals round. A shame, considering he has been part of some really good teams, with some great complimentary players.
Let’s take a look at the best trios that Anthony has been a part of throughout his basketball career (excluding All Star/Olympics).
Anthony/Kristaps Porzingis/Derrick Rose (2016-17 Knicks)
This trio had so much hope and had the potential to bring the Knicks back. Instead, they missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season, finishing 31-51. Porzingis broke out, averaging 18 ppg that year, while Rose went AWOL at one point and played just 64 games. Anthony played 74 games and averaged 22 ppg as he played his final season in NY.
Anthony/James Harden/Chris Paul (2018-19 Rockets)
Anthony played 10 games with the Rockets and this trio was only together for 5 of them as Paul missed 2 games in the beginning and Harden missed 3 due to injury. It was clear early that the Harden/Melo isolation tandem wasn’t working or wasn’t going to work and the Rockets essentially deactivated Anthony and banished him for the rest of the season.
Anthony/Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum (2019-20 Blazers)
Anthony has averaged 15.3 ppg as a third option behind Lillard and McCollum since signing with the Blazers in November 2019.
It’s unfair to place this trio on the list as Anthony only played 50 games on the Blazers in 2020 and how this ends is still TBD. How will Melo performance in the NBA bubble in July and August? Will he re-sign with Portland next season? Too many questions still to be answered.
Portland is currently sitting in 9th to begin the post-COVID shutdown, so it will be difficult for Anthony to reach his second Conference Finals with this trio, but the Blazers are favorites over eighth-place Memphis in their first game back on July 31st. Maybe with some momentum and good luck, Melo and the Blazers could still make some noise this season.
A lot of Carmelo Anthony’s career is “what could have been”. What if he was drafted by the Pistons? What if he waited a few months to sign with the Knicks as a free agent? What if he was traded to the Nets instead? Or what if he signed with the Bulls in 2014? How different could Melo’s career, and the NBA landscape have been?
9. Anthony/Paul George/Russell Westbrook (2017-18 Thunder)
Anthony was traded to the Thunder one month before the 2017 season and a couple of months after OKC acquired Paul George, to pair two All Stars with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.
16.2 ppg was lowest in career at that point, despite playing (and starting) 78 games and averaging over 30 minutes per game. Thunder lost in 6 games to the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs and OKC and Anthony moved on after the season.
8. Anthony/Amare Stoudemire/Chauncey Billups – 2010-11 Knicks
Knicks traded all their picks and prospects to get Melo and Billups. Anthony played all 27 games, and Billups played 21 after the trade from Denver in 2011 and the Knicks made the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Stoudemire, signed as a free agent during the summer of 2010, and Anthony were expected to be the 1-2 punch that took the Knicks to the next step. But Billups’ role in the trio didn’t last long.
7. Anthony/Amare Stoudemire/Tyson Chandler (2011-12 Knicks)
After the 2011 season, Knicks ditched Billups and signed free agent Tyson Chandler to join Melo and Amare.
This was a WEIRD year for the Knicks and everyone involved. Stoudemire played just 47 games due to injury and personal reasons. Anthony missed time with injuries, playing a career-low (at the time) 55 games.
The real Knicks trio that at one point emerged, was Jeremy Lin/Landry Fields/Steve Novak. Like 2011, the Knicks lost in the first round of the playoffs.
6. Anthony/Allen Iverson/Kenyon Martin (2007-08 Nuggets)
That season, this trio combined to average 64.5 ppg, 16.9 rpg, 11.8 apg. Ultimately, the Nuggets were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Kobe and the Lakers, but their 50 wins were the franchise’s most since 1988
5. Anthony/Andre Miller/Marcus Camby – 2003-04 Nuggets
Anthony was the #3 pick in the famed 2003 Draft. Prior to his arrival, the Nuggets had missed the playoffs 8 straight seasons, last appearing 1995 and winning a series in 1994. Andre Miller signed a 6 year contract in the summer of 2003. Camby, the #2 overall pick in 1996, was traded to the Nuggets the year prior to Melo’s arrival, for Antonio McDyess.
Anthony led the Nuggets in scoring, averaging 21 ppg as a 19 year old. Miller averaged 14.8 ppg and 6.1 apg. Both men started all 82 games. Camby started 72, averaging 8.6 ppg but 10.1 rpg and 2.6 bpg.
Nuggets made the playoffs, but lost to the Timberwolves, 4-1, in round 1.
4. Anthony/Allen Iverson/Marcus Camby 2006-2007 Nuggets
Iverson was acquired halfway through the 2006-07 season in a trade for Andre Miller. In year one, Iverson averaged 24.8 ppg, while Anthony scored a career-high 28.9 ppg.
Camby averaged 11.0 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 3.3 bpg and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
3. Anthony/JR Smith/Raymond Felton – 2012-13 Knicks
This is an odd trio, huh? Amare Stoudemire played just 29 games and the Knicks put together a very random, but very fun roster in 2013.
In the 2013 playoffs, Knicks won their first series since 2000, knocking off the Celtics in 6 games. That makes this trio and this team special, considering it was just the second time (and the last time, to-date) that Melo won a playoff series.
Anthony and Smith played together in Denver from 2006-2011 (half way through) and Felton was actually part of the package of players traded to the Nuggets for Anthony in 2011. In 2013, Smith was named Sixth Man of the Year, averaging a career-high 18 ppg.
2. Anthony/Kenyon Martin/Chauncey Billups – 2008-09 Nuggets
This was the most successful NBA team Anthony has been on. These Nuggets finished second in the West, going 54-28 (tied for the most wins Melo had).
A few games into the season, Nuggets traded Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups. Billups would go on to average 17.9 ppg and 6.4 apg. Billups, along with Martin, were major reasons why the Nuggets won their first playoff series since 1994. Denver would knock off the New Orleans Hornets in round one, then the Mavs in round two, before finally losing to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
2009 was Melo’s only appearance in the conference finals round.
This trio would stick together in 2009-10 and the start of 2010-11 season.
1. Anthony/Hakim Warrick/Gerry McNamara – 2002-03 Syracuse
Okay, I cheated. I never said NBA trios, I just said Melo’s trios. Clearly, none were better than this.
Syracuse won the 2003 National Championship, led by the freshman Anthony. He scored 22.2 ppg and grabbed 10 rpg. Sophomore Hakim Warrick averaged 14.8 ppg and 8.5 rpg and fellow freshman Gerry McNamara averaged 13.3 ppg and 4.4 apg (lead the team). All three men started all 35 games, playing over 32 mpg.