By Henry Abbott
"Portland has a problem," David Thorpe said when he called me this morning, after watching Blazers vs. Nuggets last night, "and it's Carmelo Anthony. Holy cow is that guy good."
The Nuggets star has been out of this world in his first two games. Once seen as a lackluster defender, Anthony is now making the kinds of tough plays all over the floor that characterize the really special MVP-type players. (My thought: Michael Beasley, are you watching? Do what this guy is doing and you'll be fine.)
The man who might know the most about Anthony's game right now is his trainer, Idan Ravin, who was nice enough to answer some questions:
Obviously Carmelo Anthony has always been a special player. But are you seeing that we're seeing so far this season? Does he just look like he took off into the stratosphere?
He has been terrific. The best thing is that it is only two games into the season and 'Melo gets better over time. His consistency, mental and physical stamina and his commitment to greatness is why this is only a glimpse of what is to come. He is a hurricane.
What, if anything, are you seeing that he's doing differently this year?
He has become more efficient and polished offensively. He is committed defensively and has assumed a leadership role on his team not only via his actions, but also his words.
Looks to me like he's really committed to doing whatever it takes to win now, huh?
He has always been committed to winning. You don't win a national championship at the high school level and as as a freshman in college if winning isn't a priority. Winning at the NBA level has become something that can now view with more clarity. In the past, winning in the League was esoteric. After coming so close last year, it has become more tangible, with texture and depth.
What was the off-season like?
His effort level and commitment were extraordinary. With a player of his stature, his off-season responsibilities are enormous. Yet he made time every day, regardless of the city he was in or the time of day, to get to the gym. Our time was focused, measured and intense.
His body looked very different when he was a rookie, right? What has changed?
His body fat is down. He is lean. He is meticulous with his diet and his workouts.
If you had to rank MVP candidates three days into the season, where we would he be on your list?
'Melo is MVP.
What has been your favorite 'Melo play of his first two games?
It would be the dunk on Paul Millsap. It highlights his reaction time on defense, his ability to immediately transition to offense, his intensity when attacking the basket, his ability to finish regardless of what is in his way, his passion for the game, his decision to both become more vocal and to lead by example.
The train he's on now ... where is it headed?
The train has no set destination. It will travel as far as 'Melo elects to take it.