Thunder role: Anthony embracing new surrounds, finding old joy

(Field Level Media) Taking fewer shots, scoring fewer points than ever, Carmelo Anthony is finding a new groove as a role player with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Once you accept something, regardless of what it is, I think you become comfortable with it,” Anthony said. “You start putting your all into it, you start working on that role and on that acceptance, and it becomes fun. I think right now, after accepting that role, I think early in December, the game is starting to become fun again for me, fun for us as a team. Any time you get to making shots and winning basketball games, it makes it that much more fun.”

Averaging a career-low 17.4 points per game as a support leg and third scorer behind point guard Russell Westbrook and forward Paul George, Anthony is taking fewer shots but achieving greater efficiency. Since Jan. 1, he’s shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and just under 40 percent from 3-point range to help the Thunder pull out of a tailspin.

he new-look Anthony was on display Wednesday in a 114-90 win, leading all scorers with 27 points on 10 of 15 shooting. He made 4 of his 6 tries from 3-point range.

“I think any time you’re making shots you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing, what the team is doing,” Anthony said. “(Wednesday) was just one of those nights where the shot was falling and the game was fun. And we took advantage of that.”

Anthony, 33, is not paid like a support player — in 2017-18, Anthony will earn a base salary of $26,243,760 — which is part of the reason he felt pressure to continue in his familiar role. Only 11 players in the league are scheduled to make more this season than Anthony.

Moving forward, he’s not trying to play that part, rather focusing on playing his new part. His teammates know what Anthony is capable of when called upon for more.

“We know he can put up 50 points a game if he wanted to. If his shot’s falling, we’re going to find him as much as possible,” forward Patrick Patterson said.

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