I think the plan for Melo is what they hoped Joe Johnson would've been last year. Melo certainly has more left in the tank. A Gordon Melo bench certainly has more firepower. He doesn't need to be able to defend starters…
— Matt Perkins (@mwp401) July 23, 2018
I agree that while he’ll likely start, it’s essentially a bench role. Where I disagree is that “[h]e doesn’t need to be able to defend starters[.]” I don’t think this is really an accurate way to look at the relationship between players and lineups. Teams don’t play their five starters and then sub in an entirely different set. They mix and match, such that there end up being moments–perilous moments–when Ryan Anderson is sharing the court with Stephen Curry during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Over the course of 82 games, this doesn’t matter much; in the playoffs, these moments are magnified and as we saw, can in some ways be the deciding factor.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Anthony will be a net positive for the team during the regular season. He’s still a capable scorer and will ease the burden on James Harden and Chris Paul in that regard. Most teams won’t really be able to make him pay. But in their matchups last year, the Rockets hunted Anthony out to where he became unplayable for the Thunder. That will certainly happen against Golden State. On the one hand, one might argue this is much ado about nothing – he can still be a positive addition, even if he cannot play against Golden State. On the other hand, everything the Rockets do should be in preparation for Golden State. Nothing else matters. I don’t want to end up in the situation again where the team has become reliant upon a rotation which must be pared down to seven players against the Warriors, because the rest of the regulars cannot play. That over-exertion was a factor in Chris Paul’s injury.