Paul Pierce Carmelo Anthony January 2015

Washington Wizards small forward Paul Pierce did a piece for Derek Jeter's The Players Tribune recently, where he ranked his toughest players in the NBA to guard on defense.

In the list, he mentions guys like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. After this, most would think LeBron James would come at No. 1, but he was No. 2.

So who was, to Pierce, the toughest guy to guard? Well, it's no other than New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

Here was Pierce's reasoning to have Melo over a guy like LeBron or Kobe:

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.

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.

But then again, none of these guys are.

Very interesting.


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