Looming Large: Carmelo Anthony

(David Zalubowski/AP)

It's fitting that heading into the All-Star break, Orlando would have to host five All-Stars in a week long period, with the final elite player being Western Conference starter, Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets.

"Melo" and company will head to Orlando on Wednesday as the Magic will play their final game before the break and they will certainly have their hands full. Not only are the Nuggets one of the best teams in the NBA (31-19), but Anthony has been on a tear this month, averaging 31 points per game in February.

Anthony will forever be synonymous with LeBron James (whose Cavaliers struck down the Magic on Monday), as he was taken third overall after James was taken first, and while Melo may never get as much attention as James, he has already established himself as a top tier player early in his NBA career. Currently in his 5th NBA season, the 23 year-old Anthony is averaging 24.4 points per game throughout his career (hall of fame numbers), and is currently having a great year across the board, dropping 26.2 ppg., while also logging a career high in rebounds at 7.2 per contest.

What makes Anthony such a threat on offense is his fundamentals. At 6'8, 230 lbs., Anthony doesn't have the most chiseled physique and he isn't an overwhelming athlete, but few can rival his natural ability to score. He can take defenders off the dribble with a quick first step or knock down a jumper their face. In fact, Anthony might have one of the best mid-range jump shots in the NBA and he can also bury the three with regularity. Because of his size and good quickness, Melo makes for a difficult matchup because he has a fairly refined post game when being guarded by smaller forwards. On Friday night, Melo showed off his ability to find holes in the defense as was unstoppable against the Washington Wizards, scoring a season-high 49 points.

Where Anthony does have trouble is on the defensive end, as he isn't the most physical player and usually doesn't display the will or desire to be a great defender. While he has taken strides on D the past few seasons, Anthony can still be a liability on defense.

What has made Anthony a more complete player has been the addition of star guard Allen Iverson, who also demands the ball quite frequently, and because of it, Anthony has had to buy into a different role and become a better team player, and it appears to be working.

The last time Orlando faced the Nuggets, Anthony led his squad to a victory as he scorched the Magic, dropping 32 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The Magic will have to pick their poison, either doubling Iverson or Anthony. If the Magic do decide to pay more attention to the lightning fast Iverson, then they will have to hope that either Hedo Turkoglu or Maurice Evans can contain the finely tuned offensive machine that is Carmelo Anthony.

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