The photo above has sparked a major reaction in the past couple of days, as it appears Carmelo Anthony is trimming down this offseason. Coincidentally, following a move back to Cleveland, fellow small forward, LeBron James, also appears to be losing weight on a rumored low-carb diet. Why the sudden urge for weight loss for these two superstars?
This offseason has already been one of the most intriguing in recent memory for NBA fans. The King returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Carmelo Anthony decided to stay with the New York Knicks. For Anthony the decision seemed like a head-scratcher, but ultimately I believe the $123 million dollars would be hard for any player to turn down and his family was comfortable in The Big Apple. Aside from that, being the Knicks fan I am, I would like to think Anthony returned because he loved being a Knick and loved playing at Madison Square Garden in front of those fans.
Now that the landscape of the NBA seems to be set, let’s get to the matter at hand. Last week, LeBron James put out the photo above, which went viral very quickly, as it appears he has lost at least 10 pounds. The reason being is unknown, but one would figure that this has to do with him playing the traditional “small forward” role (or maybe more of a point-forward) on the perimeter to utilize his passing skills. James is obviously still as phenomenal a physical specimen as there is in the NBA and losing a few pounds won’t hurt his game, except for maybe down low on the block on offense.
This also could have to do with the signature game of the 2014 NBA finals in which the air conditioning unit was down, and James severely cramped at the end of the game. This may be a stretch, but maybe losing some of the muscle mass would help LeBron’s conditioning and muscle cramping during the hotter games in the playoff months, or if such another A/C incident were to occur. The more muscle you carry the more likely you are to cramp during intense game play. Maybe this all has to do with the blunt reality that going on 30 years old, James realizes that losing this weight will put less stress on his body and allow him to play at a high level well into his 30′s.
Carmelo Anthony has never been quite the physical freak that LeBron James is, but he has always been an offensive star in the NBA. One of the harsh criticism’s he has faced throughout his NBA career (aside from lack of effort on defense at times) is the fact that he has always carried a bit of extra weight. Before anyone jumps on me for criticizing an exceptional athlete like Melo, let me explain. Anthony is 6’8″ the same height as LeBron James, but has less muscle and a bit more weight in the mid-section. No he isn’t fat, he is just unfairly judged against the absurd physique of James.
Anthony has always been a better jump shooter than James and is more consistent from the perimeter, he really developed more consistency on his three-point shot since coming to New York. He may be losing the weight for the same reasons I have listed for LeBron James – prolonging his NBA career and long-term health – but does Phil Jackson have something to do with this? Does the new triangle offense have to do with the weight loss as well?
In my opinion the sudden loss of weight for Anthony indicates that he is moving back to his natural position. Anthony will obviously be the focal point of this offense, but he will be relied upon to set up his teammates as well as score the basketball. Another undeserved critique to his game has been his assist totals. It’s not always his fault that his teammates haven’t been as consistent as James’ at finishing plays.
Anthony has been more effective at the power forward position, and any numbers will back that statement up, but in my opinion the small-ball lineups just don’t work. This may rival what my fellow writer Max Marcilla believes, which he indicated in his piece on the possible starting units for the Knicks, and I don’t completely disagree with him. This upcoming season might be better for the Knicks to start Anthony at the power forward spot, especially given their depth at shooting guard (J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Tim Hardaway Jr.) and small forward (after drafting Cleanthony Early and trading for Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw). However, for Anthony, his best basketball move would be to play his natural position and not have to bang in the post on a nightly basis.
Last time I checked the San Antonio Spurs model of consistency has not involved a primary small-ball lineup and none of Phil Jackson’s championship teams ran with that either. I know the game has changed, but for Carmelo Anthony and the longevity of his career, a move back to the small forward really is the best thing that could happen. It will be up to Anthony’s teammates to step up their game and help him thrive at his natural position. Given the moves that Phil Jackson has put in place and the weight loss by Carmelo Anthony, it appears that is the direction they are leaning towards.