Paul Pierce says Carmelo Anthony is toughest to defend
A member of the Eastern Conference for his entire career, veteran Paul Pierce has had his share of individual battles. These were mostly in Boston as opposed to his recent stint with Brooklyn. Pierce went toe to toe with the best of them at some point – LeBron, Kobe, and typically matched up with the best wing player or forward.
Well in a first-person feature in the Players’ Tribune, Pierce was open about his personal take on who was the toughest cover:
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.
Pierce named his five toughest guys to have to guard in the feature. Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Vince Carter were named. LeBron James was not named.
When it comes to Carmelo Anthony, I’ve been open as saying he and Kevin Durant are undisputedly the two best scorers in the league just when it comes to getting buckets. Pierce touched on the main element in Melo’s game that does give him an edge, his size and strength, which makes him even harder to stop in the post areas. Despite what Carmelo is currently experiencing with his aching, now seemingly tanking Knicks, when he has the ball on an island there is no one who can stop him from getting his shot off.
Paul Pierce understands that better than most.