Back in 2015, Paul Pierce explained how Carmelo Anthony was a tougher assignment for him on the defensive end compared to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Carmelo Anthony is one of the best scorers the league has ever seen. Ever since he set foot on the hardwood as a young 19-yer-old, he took no time to showcase his deep offensive bag. And after averaging 21 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 42/32/77 shooting splits, Melo was immediately deemed an offensive threat to any defender.
For over 18 years now, Anthony has been a straight-up walking bucket, torching every team he has ever played against. Even at the age of 36, Melo was a huge problem for the toughest of tough defenders in the league and ended up putting up 13.4 points on an efficient 42/41/89 shooting.
Paul Pierce is one of the many opponents to whom Melo has handed several buckets. In the 37 games, these two legends have gone at it against each other, Carmelo has outscored Pierce 25.2-21.5. This is why Paul named Melo as one of the toughest players he’s ever guarded.
“Carmelo Anthony is the most difficult player to guard”: Paul Pierce
Back in 2015, Paul Pierce say down with “The Players’ Tribune” and was asked to name the five toughest players he has ever guarded. Apart from naming Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter, the Celtics legend even mentioned Carmelo Anthony.
During the same interview, Pierce explained how Anthony was actually more a difficult assignment for him to guard than the Mamba or King James were. Pierce explained:
“Kobe is one of the best scorers in NBA history. But I don’t have as much trouble with him in the post as I do with Carmelo. LeBron is a great post-up player, but if you get him to settle for the jumper on some nights, you might be able to slow him down if his shot is off. That’s not the case with Melo. If you give him space to shoot, he’ll make it many more times than he misses it. To put it plainly, he’s not a fun assignment on defense.”
Paul Pierce further spoke about Melo and what made him such a “difficult” player to guard.
“If I had to single one guy out who is the most difficult player to guard in the league, it would have to be Carmelo. He’s a unique blend of being big, strong, and athletic. While also having a world-class shooting touch and a natural ability to get to the rim. That’s what sets him apart — every facet of his game is elite.
Some great players will have one or two particular skills that make them special. But Carmelo can do everything, which puts you in a baaad situation as a defender. A lot of guys might shoot better from certain areas, so you try to force them elsewhere on the floor. Carmelo doesn’t have a spot on the floor where he can’t consistently hit shots.
In my opinion, his combination of physicality and shooting touch is unmatched in the NBA. You can’t take one second off when you’re matched up against him.”