Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony is patient, yet swift.
When Anthony is sizing an opponent up in the midrange, he’ll usually do some jab steps, analyzing where he can get a shot off. And then when he sees the opening, he’ll quickly make his move, whether that’s rising for a jumper or using a few dribbles to get to one of his hot spots.
Anthony is one of the most skilled midrange scorers ever, right up there with Michael Jordan, the late Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
Throughout his career, though, what’s made Anthony special is his quality face-up game.
Before the NBA’s season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anthony was playing his 17th season. He has been a solid scoring option for the Blazers, averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting 37.1% from the 3-point line. He ranks fourth on the team in scoring.
In the video below, Anthony showed his midrange and face-up skills haven’t wavered. He was being guarded by Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura. He hit Hachimura with those customary jab steps and quickly put the ball on the floor as Hachimura bit on a fake. Anthony then backed down Hachimura and made one of his trademark turnaround jumpers.
This is the type of move that has helped Anthony succeed for years. Anthony’s footwork has always been a key reason for his success in and around the midpost. His footwork isn’t akin to Hakeem Olajuwon’s — he’s not necessarily trying to shake anyone.
He just wants to create enough space to get a solid shot off, and that process starts with his ability to establish good position.
For example, the video below is of when Anthony scored 62 points with the New York Knicks and set a Madison Square Garden record. At 46 seconds Anthony got enough of a seal to help him quickly open up and face toward the rim.
When Anthony faces up, he’s controlled. He focuses on what’s available; basically, he looks at what the defense is allowing him to do. Here the defender cut off any sort of driving lane, so Anthony had to quickly rise for a jumper. When he was with the Knicks, though, that quick pull-up was one of Anthony’s best shots.
Anthony’s minimalist style has helped him be one of the best scorers of his generation. According to NBA.com stats, he ranks second among active players in career points, right behind LeBron James. He ranks 17th all-time in the category.
The same Knicks video has a good example of how Anthony dribbles with purpose. At 34 seconds in the video above, Anthony ran a quick high ball screen with Raymond Felton. Anthony slipped the screen and drifted into the open space. The two defenders went onto Felton, so Felton got Anthony the ball quickly.
With an up fake and one dribble, Anthony got a good shot off for a bucket.
Being skillful in the midrange is going away from hoops, with more teams focusing on 3-pointers and layups.
But when it’s there, the midrange can be an effective shot — especially if the player is good at hitting it. And as one of this era’s best scorers, Anthony has been relentless when it comes to getting buckets in the middle of the floor.