OKLAHOMA CITY — After often resisting it in New York, Carmelo Anthony will officially make the full-time transition to starting power forward with the Thunder, coach Billy Donovan said Tuesday.
Asked about Anthony laughing off the possibility of coming off the bench Monday at media day, Donovan said, “We’re going to probably, maybe, bring him in at the start of the fourth quarter.”
After a second to let the sarcasm sink in, Donovan set it straight and revealed Anthony’s role.
“No, he’s going to start the power forward spot for us,” Donovan said. “That’s what he’s going to do.”
Anthony has played the majority of his career as a small forward, but with Paul George already slotted into that position, the 10-time All-Star said he’s ready and willing to slide down a position in the Thunder’s starting five.
“I’ve been playing the 4 almost all my career,” Anthony said. “Even in Denver, we was one of those teams with George Karl, kinda started going playing that small ball, putting me at the 4, picking up the pace. We kind of started that. And the league wasn’t ready for that at that time. It was all about traditional bigs and power forwards and centers. And now, it’s just whoever. You have 2-guards playing center now, guys 6-foot-5 playing center. So, it really doesn’t matter at what position it is, what spot out there, as long as you fill those spots, as long as you know the offense, as long as you execute, those positions, they don’t matter.”
A primary factor in Anthony’s willingness to make the full-time positional change is the roster around him. The expected Thunder starting five will feature Russell Westbrook, defensive specialist Andre Roberson, George, Anthony and Steven Adams.
“I have no problem with playing the 4,” Anthony said. “I actually like that, I actually embrace that. And for this team, I think it will be better.”
Anthony’s size, physicality and shooting ability makes him a natural fit for the modern day NBA power forward. Plus, with Roberson and George’s versatility, along with Adams’ rim protection and athleticism, the Thunder will possess plenty of positional flexibility and defensive switch-ability.
“Playing alongside somebody like Steven Adams, who can get up on a pick, who can switch, who can guard different positions, I like that,” Anthony said. “I’ve always wanted to play with somebody like that.”