The Houston Rockets appear to be turning a corner, winning three consecutive games to right the ship after a woeful start to the 2018-19 NBA season. While Carmelo Anthony hasn’t necessarily been the impetus for that positive change, the future Hall of Fame forward has shown flashes, particularly offensively, and an interesting storyline emerged on Thursday with regard to his adjustment to a new situation in Houston.
Tim MacMahon and Royce Young of ESPN put together a back-and-forth about Anthony joining the Rockets and, within it, MacMahon indicated that the Rockets view Anthony’s journey in Oklahoma City as a “humbling experience.”
The Rockets are really lucky they weren’t able to pull off a trade with the Knicks before last season, which they thought was going to happen at one point that summer. They didn’t have to deal with the financial pain of Melo’s max deal, and as one high-ranking Houston source noted during training camp, the year in OKC was clearly a humbling experience.
Of course, this is something that the general public will never have a full grasp on, simply because the full-blown information will never be available. Still, this is a sourced report that almost certainly has merit with regard to Anthony’s attitude since arriving Houston and it is intriguing.
Beyond that, Anthony’s experience may have had an unforeseen impact in his previous stop, as Young (who covers the Thunder extensively) shed light on how his personality may have influenced Oklahoma City’s locker room.
One other aspect to this is chemistry and team dynamic. In OKC, there was internal talk about how Melo impacted the locker room. To be clear, he was remarkably professional all season long, and at no point was there any locker room strife. But Melo’s general vibe and personality influenced OKC, particularly Westbrook. The Thunder had a confident we’ll-be-all right air about them all season, and that was projected most from Melo. And while he and Westbrook got along extremely well, that kind of atmosphere had a negative impact on Westbrook, who needs to be on edge at all times to succeed on the court.
Westbrook has joked before that the reason he doesn’t play it cool in the All-Star Game is because he’s not good enough to take it easy. He has to play one way, and that mentality sets the tone for the entire organization; the Thunder lost some of that identity with Melo.
Anthony is clearly in a different stage of his career at this point, even if he had to be pushed there begrudgingly. At some point, it is certainly possible that something approaching “chemistry” issues could fester in Houston but all signs point to a locker room that is likely a better fit for Anthony in 2018 and that could be crucial to his next step in the NBA.
There are basketball-related issues with Anthony, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, that will be worth monitoring throughout season but he seems to be in a better place with his new role. That, at the very least, isn’t a bad thing.