Sean Gardner/Getty Images
By Ben Golliver
September 14, 2016

Anthony’s poignant interview after the gold medal game at the Rio Olympics was an unusual sight: How often does at established star playing for the prohibitive favorite get choked up after a 30-point blowout win? In Anthony’s case, though, his emotional outpouring made sense for two reasons: 1) He had just completed a lengthy and successful career with USA Basketball on the highest possible note, and 2) It must have felt really, really good to be victorious and in the middle of the action again. In recent years, Anthony’s marketing endeavors, charitable contributions and outspoken advocacy have generally trumped his on-court accomplishments, as his Knicks have faded far off the relevancy radar. While Anthony, still one of the toughest covers in the game, put up strong numbers (21.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.2 APG) in a hopeless situation last year, his time as a centerpiece superstar is either coming to an end or already complete. For three straight postseasons now, he’s been forced to watch his peers from home; Cleveland’s championship was not only another badge of honor for friend LeBron James, but also a crowning achievement for his longtime running mate, J.R. Smith. When even Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is willing to say that it’s “unlikely” the 32-year-old Anthony will ever win a title, it’s hard not to feel Father Time closing in. Still, Anthony remains a dependable scorer in isolation, in the post and when using screens. Last season, he seemed to deemphasize his long-established alpha scoring mentality in favor of a more distribution-minded approach.  As a result, he averaged four assists for the first time in his career, and his 21/7/4 stat line was matched in all three categories by only three players: James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Combine Anthony’s obvious joy in Rio, New York’s nonstop wheel-spinning, and the adaptability of his offensive focus, and it’s hard not to dream about what might happen if he decided to opt out in 2018 and go down the ring-chasing path. (Last year: No. 15)

+ Set new career highs in assists while taking his fewest shots per game in more than a decade
+ New York’s bottom-five offense was absolutely atrocious without him, as its offensive rating fell by 9.1 points when he left the court
His scoring average, usage rate and free-throw rate have fallen for three straight seasons since he was the NBA’s scoring champ in 2013
At 32, he’s missed 21% of his team’s games over the last five seasons

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