NBA, The NBA's 30 Best Go-To Players / Oct 16, 2009 / 2:23 pm

The NBA’s 30 best go-to players (#8: Carmelo Anthony)

Carmelo Anthony

Who do you want your offense to run through with everything on the line? Counting down 30th to 1st (one per team), I’ve ranked the League’s go-to guys…

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It takes hard work to make it look so easy. Above any single thing ‘Melo has ever done on a basketball court, the enduring image of his game is more of a montage of hysteria-igniting moments that he executes and reacts to like it’s a mid-October practice session.

In his six years as a pro, ‘Melo has compiled a resume as impressive as any active clutch player in the game. Stat-tracking website 82games.com counted “game-winning shots” from 2003 through early-February 2009, and in that span ‘Melo had 13, fifth-best behind LeBron, Vince, Ray and Kobe. And that didn’t count the game-winner ‘Melo had late last season against Memphis, and the two he had against Dallas — one in the regular season, one in the playoffs. Last year ‘Melo ranked third in the NBA in “clutch time” scoring, averaging 54.4 points per 48 minutes, hitting 56% from the field and 58% from long range.

His most recent Wheaties box moment — against the Mavs in Game 3 of the Western Conference semis — was perhaps the quintessential ‘Melo dagger. Taking the inbounds pass, he temporarily lost his handle (because there’s always been a bit of awkwardness to his smoothness), absorbed contact intended to be a foul, gracefully toed the sideline, then let a fadeaway three flick from his wrist in front of the opponent’s bench that dropped to a silent Dallas crowd. The strength, the poise, the court awareness, the focus (he kept going when everyone momentarily froze), the accuracy on a tough shot in a hostile environment; it was as Vintage as you can get for a dude who is just 25 years old.

There is another element, though, a more recent wrinkle that ‘Melo does regularly that many go-to guys don’t — he gets layups in crunch time. Given the nature of the game, most guards and wings attack from the perimeter, and given that NBA defenses tighten up in the fourth quarter, most of those scorers make their killings on jump shots. ‘Melo, on the other hand, has the handle and the muscle (he’s probably the strongest small forward in the League after LeBron) to get finger rolls and and-ones against the toughest defenses.

Because he is arguably the best pure scorer in the game and because his Western Conference Finals run — where he averaged 27 points a night — is fresh in everyone’s memory, some would say ‘Melo should be higher on this list. But I can’t ignore the fact that before ’09, he was routinely knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. And in those years, Carmelo’s shooting percentages usually decreased in the playoffs. You also can’t ignore the influence of Chauncey Billups in helping guide ‘Melo to the grander stages of the postseason, nor the argument you could make that Chauncey is really Denver’s go-to guy.

But while Chauncey may be the one who sets the tone and tempo of the Nuggets now, when things get tight, CB knows that ‘Melo is still The Man.

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9. Chris Paul
10. Deron Williams
11. Vince Carter
12. Joe Johnson
13. Danny Granger
14. Steve Nash
15. Kevin Durant
16. Gilbert Arenas
17. Derrick Rose
18. Chris Bosh
19. Andre Iguodala
20. Tracy McGrady
21. Baron Davis
22. Michael Redd
23. Devin Harris
24. Kevin Martin
25. Al Jefferson
26. O.J. Mayo
27. Stephen Jackson
28. Nate Robinson
29. Boris Diaw
30. Rip Hamilton

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  • control

    Melo over a guy with the nick name “Mr Big Shot”?

  • Rizwan

    Surely you cant have Tim Duncan currently or Tony Parker ahead of Carmelo?

  • Alee-Mo

    @control — All due respect to Chauncey, but who cares about a nickname? First, CB earned that name playing on another team; he came to Denver and recognized that their “Mr Big Shot” is Carmelo. Second, Harold Miner was nicknamed “Baby Jordan.” Doesn’t mean he should be in the League.

  • control

    Chauncey earned that name on the way to earning titles and finals appearances, so it’s a legit nickname wherever he goes. Billups is ice in the clutch, can shoot, drive or pass to win a game, Melo has a sweet midrange jumper and decent layups to win a game. I’d take Billups if I needed to score just one basket any day of the week.

  • Kevin

    I’d definitely put whoever they pick for the Spurs ahead of Melo, who’s only had ONE notable playoff run. The Spurs still own the Nuggets. The one time they played them with a full squad last year the Spurs routed them; the other times either Duncan/Parker/Manu was out or Parker/Manu was out. Last time Nuggets played Spurs in the playoffs, Spurs won. Until Melo shows he can beat Duncan/Parker, he has to be behind them.

  • Showtime

    I don’t even need to know the rest of this list (probably Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Pierce, Duncan, Dirk and D12/Vince/Lewis – no idea who they’ll go to instead of Turkoglu) to say … WAY TOO LOW. The best scorers are the ones with the complete package. Driving, midrange, longrange … He should be 3rd or 4th … That’s just wrong… and I don’t even like Melo or the Nuggets

  • Alee-Mo

    I would take Chauncey to shoot free throws to ice a win, or hit a three if I needed it. But watch the Nuggets and you can see they want to get the ball to Melo in the clutch.

  • control


    Who is getting Melo that look in clutch time? Billups, cause he’s setting it all up and getting Melo his easy shot. It’s all Billups, he’s pulling the strings.

  • jackass

    kobe, lebron, wade, duncan, pierce who is the other 2??? don’t tell me one of them is Dwight Howard

  • Alee-Mo

    If they call a clear-out for Melo, which is what 90% of NBA teams do when they need a last-second shot, what does Chauncey have to do with that? By your logic, T.J. Ford should be high on the list because he gets Danny Granger good looks.

  • TJ

    So Carmelo isn’t higher because he’s only been past the 1st round once, but BRoy is up there after losing his only 1st round series (to a team who’s best player was Aaron Brooks)?

  • TJ


    I think its BRoy and Dirk.

  • the cynic

    Melo is an absolute beast, personally I’d have him at number 4 behind Kobe, Wade, and Duncan, but at this point in the list everyone is pretty good

  • Chaos

    @Kevin – they are talking about individually at the end of the game, not as a team and honestly i would still take Melo over any of the spurs because of the fact that they have each other. ive seen it where they were missing 1 or 2 of their big three and they really coulnt close. they take so much pressure off of each other that any of them could be a go to player cuz they draw so much attention. Everyone is usually keyed in on Melo and he shoots, drives, goes to the line at a very high rate in the 4th qtr. Chauncy asmuch as i like im still defers offensively to melo in the 4th qtr as the spurs depend on a different closer in different situations (usually when they know the defensive player hs no chance in stopping tem)

  • jimmy_jacked_corn

    I’d put B-Roy ahead of Melo because he doesn’t have a #2 option like Melo has with Billups. You KNOW Portland is running everything through B-Roy in the clutch. (And don’t give me any “Travis Outlaw” talk. He’s a safety outlet.)

  • Chaos

    @jackass – it cantbe dwight howard cuz they already named Vince as the go to player for orlando

  • hooper5013

    top 5 should be kobe wade bron melo d will and you can mix it up however you want with Kobe as #1 but damn 8 for my guy melo?? Brandon Roy is a beast but he dont want it with Melo in the clutch…neither does Dirk or Paul Peirce at this stage in his career…

  • sh!tfaced

    Fuck if LeBron really had the most “game-winning shots”, the way LeHype carries himself during crunch time he probably had more “fluke shots” than “game-winning shots”.

    All you have to do is check his face and reaction every time he hits a “game-winning shot”, he always looks more surprised than Steve Novak when Novak hit a game winning three for the Clips last year, but then he catches himself and makes it look like he’s been doing it all along. It’s f*ckin’ hilarious…

  • http://www.twitter.com/jahovah23 JHov

    Hey Carmelo is a great player and I’m gonna let him finish..but what’s up with the NBA moving the Kings??


  • jeremy

    “some would say ‘Melo should be higher on this list. But I can’t ignore the fact that before ’09, he was routinely knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.”

    B-roy has been to the playoffs once and was knocked out in the first round so how is he ahead of melo???

  • Shaw32

    i love melo’s game same with roy but bucket for bucket in the forth noone’s except kobe’s messin wit melo. and nick names they call melo the big bully it doesen’t get better than that

  • Rizwan

    @ Jeremy

    Exactly my point. This list is inconsistent.

  • Kevin

    Melo should be higher. If someone asks you the question, “who you want taking the last shot on your team?” Melo is one of the 1st people that would come to your mind. Kobe, Pierce, Bron, Melo.

  • calvin brodus

    i think ab is sneaking in this criminal ranking late on friday to avoid the ruckus it should cause. melo ranked anywhere out of the top 5 is just flatly inaccurate.

    like other posters on this thread, i assume dirk, broy, tp/duncan will be above melo on this list. all those dudes are legit and an asset for any team in the fourth. but youre crazy if you would give any of them the ball instead of melo for a last possession shot with the game on the line.

    i tell ya ab, i still dont think you respect the nuggs.

  • Ian

    that mr big shot nick is way overrated.

    what team can close without 1 or 2 of their best players injured?

    people what is this parker/duncan talk manu gets the ball in crunch time.

    some of guys are mentioning howard/carter austin already did the magic.

    some nugg fans can get a bit worked up with this melo over duncan as my go to guy??? hell fuckin no
    while melo is great during the season duncan and manu do it when it counts.

    AGAIN THIS IS NOT A LAST SHOT THING like doc says give me kerr or paxson you keep the superstar.

  • Arno

    I generally agree with that list. But here !!!
    IMHO, Carmello is the most dangerous guy you would have to face in the last 30 secs of a tight game. BTW, I thought some stats geek had shown Melo had the best clutch shots made / taken ratio in the League ?
    Also, it’s not because Kobe or LeBron’s clutch plays are shown 100 times on TV that they made them 100 times. Do your maths and it doesn’t add up.

  • LakeShow84

    OOhhhhhhhh i dont know about this one Dime..

    Id have Melo in the top 5.. Dudes been a CLUTCH winner/performer on every level.. Highschool, College and the NBA.. he hit game winners his Rookie season.. thats 1/3 players i cringe if they takin the last shot against us.. other 2 is Dwade and Duncan..

    Lebron?? i say BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA please shoot it.. nah dont pass it shoot it!

  • LakeShow84

    @ Shitface

    I said the same thing.. That game winner he hit on Orlando he was looked shocked it went it.. Definetely not a killer..

    A killer KNOWS its going in.. Thats why it dont take REAL killers 7 years to hit a buzzer beater..

  • Ian

    Td kobe bron wade and dirk my top 5 don’t care about the order if they make it well at least 4 of them should.

    Melo should be higher than roy

  • gilford22

    CP3 should be at least higher than Carmelo. I can’t imagine B.Roy being higher than CP3 and Carmelo.

  • padoods

    ray allen should be part of that top 7


  • Sam

    Wow, definitely too low. He’s easily top 5, I can’t wait to see how he justifies having Brandon Roy above him, when his main complaint with Melo was getting knocked out early in the playoffs. In my opinion, he’s number two in the league, after Kobe. I don’t trust Lebron’s jumper or his free throws, although you know he’s getting the call no matter what.

  • Josh Tha roc

    Padoods ray and pp are on the same team.

    I agree with the above , can not have melo’ outside the top 5.

  • Dagomar

    Shitfaced, instead of spouting off nonsense about people’s facial expressions maybe you should run a stat check. If you did (82games) you’d find out Lebron is the league’s best player in the clutch.

    As for this ranking . . . Melo is a top-five go-to player. I’d rank only Lebron, Wade and Kobe above him at this point (if it was a year ago, Pierce as well).

  • pak-yaw

    how the hell is broy higher than melo?
    can someone explain that to me? how is he higher than someone who took his team to the playoffs every year since he came into the L? although the dude got abused by the lakers, spurs, clippers (best clipper team ever) and garnett mvp twolves… what has broy done to be put higher than melo? right… he lost in his playoff debut to an aaron brooks led rocket team.
    and dont talk to me about broy’s stats. melo has been avg 24ppg for his career ever since he came into the league. (would have been higher if he gets half the superstar calls the bron gets…)
    broy gets too much love from the dime staff… starting to turn into a man-crush

  • Nyeme

    There is no way Lebron is ranked more clutch than Melo. Matter of fact neither is Pierce or Dirk. Hell, Melo should be Top 3..Kobe, Ray, Melo & Wade. They must’ve missed how Melo put the team on his back rookie year, hitting clutch shot after shot to win their final games to lead them in the playoffs. Melo has been clutch his whole career and if you look at the numbers he’s in the Top 3, in efficiency combined with makes and takes. And Billups name has overrated him. Lebron though? Mr. Hesitate and Pass?

  • http://facebook.com Devin

    Melo should be in the top 4 or 3 point blank he really hit more game winners than bron

  • arislocote

    Melo should be in the top 5. LeChoke and broy should only be ranked number 7 to 10. Pak-yaw is right, we’re aving a man-crush here. Those guys ain’t got no love for the Nuggets.

    Pinoy Pride!

  • heartbreaker85

    1 kobe
    2 wade
    3 james
    4 dirk
    5 parker
    6 pierce
    7 roy

    that sounds just about right.

  • Lydia Hollins

    I agree with Ian on the Spurs. I’m not saying he’s better than either or anyone else but Ginobili does tend to get the ball more often than not in the final minutes of a close game. Partially cuz he’s the better free-throw shooter than Parker and Duncan, and plus he’s capable of hitting the outside shot or making the critical pass.

  • pak-yaw

    cant w8 how you guys justify broy over melo..
    dont get me wrong roy’s good. might be even turn out to be better than melo. but not yet…

  • pak-yaw

    cant w8 how you guys justify broy over melo..
    dont get me wrong roy’s good. might even turn out to be better than melo. but not yet…

  • The other Aj


    There are only 1-2 guys in this league I want taking a last second shot over Melo…

    Kobe, and maybe…maybe, Ben Gordon…

    I want to see who Dime has as the 8 better closers than Melo

  • Mellmeister

    This is Total Horse SH*T!!!!

    AB… WTF are you thinkin’? Melo #8? are you kiddin’ me?

    Spurs? Manu? Duncan? gettin’ it done when it counts?

    So are you sayin’ regular season games are not important?

    tsk… Stupid ass, Melo can’t take gamewinners against the spurs ‘coz they always get behind by at least 12 points… that’s why, but clutch scoring when games are close… or if you need points on the board when it matters… MELO is the man… Inside, Outside, FTs, anywhere inside the court… if you need buckets then go to Melo…
    Kobe’s the only player that can take him out of the No.1 Spot…

    LBJ is just fine at No.4…
    But it should’ve been:

    1) Kobe
    2) Wade
    3) ‘Melo
    4) LBJ

    No Way B.Roy’s above him… tsk… Dime should get facts correctly, they got so much love for B.Roy… I think they wanna sleep with him. hahahahaha!

  • Mellmeister