It has become fairly obvious that Carmelo Anthony is not the player he once was. This really should not have come as a big surprise to anyone. He proved in his last few seasons with the New York Knicks that he is no longer a first scoring option. As he could not lead them to more than 32 wins in his last three seasons with the team. Although he was injured quite a bit during that time, he still has declined statistically but more importantly, his impact is nowhere near what it once was.
Now, this is no knock on Carmelo, he is 33 years of age and is currently playing in his 14th NBA season. Every NBA player declines at a certain point, after some injuries and loads of drama in New York it’s okay for Anthony to play a smaller role. The only problem is Oklahoma City thought they were getting a great iso scorer who can create some “instant offense” when Russell Westbrook is off the floor. Unfortunately, that has rarely been the case, as Carmelo has had a very streaky season thus far. He will have a stretch of games where he looks like his old self, but he can not consistently impact a game anymore. With that being said the Thunder’s third star has emerged this season and he was on the roster the whole time.
Clearly, Oklahoma City has two stars in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, but they had intended to have a “Big 3” coming into the season. As previously stated Carmelo has not been that guy this year, but Steven Adams has emerged into one of the leagues best Centers. Averaging career highs in points(14.0), rebounds(9.1), and field goal percentage (63.1%) Adams is not your typical star in today's NBA. Although he doesn’t shoot the three or score a ton of points Steven Adams plays winning basketball. He does all the little things needed to win such as; setting great screens, playing tough defense, and most important offensive rebounding.
Adams leads the league in offensive rebounding, averaging nearly six per game. A big part of why the Oklahoma City Thunder are first in the league in that category. Five or six extra shots in a close game can be the difference between a win and a loss, but if you still don’t completely understand his impact, then listen to the advanced stats. Steven Adams is 9th in the NBA in true shooting percentage, 15th in win shares ( highest among Thunder players ), and 2nd in the league in offensive rating only behind Chris Paul. The average stats can only say so much about Steven Adams, but anyone who watches him play knows the value he brings to his team.
Whether or not this would be the case on a different team is up for debate, but in Oklahoma City Steven Adams is the third star, not Carmelo Anthony.