Slim Melo? Anthony is committed to making a playoff push with his body transformation

When the Trail Blazers open the NBA restart July 31, Carmelo Anthony will not only be playing a new position, he will also be unveiling a new physique.

The 16-year NBA veteran said he changed his diet and workout routine when the NBA suspended its season in March because of the coronavirus, and the result has elicited both raised eyebrows and some playful barbs from teammates, some of whom have taken to calling him “Skinny Melo.”

“I take it as a compliment,” Anthony said. “A testament to the work I’ve put in and the extreme focus I’ve had.”

For Melo the reward will be twice as good. He will move back to the Small Forward position to cover for the loss of Trevor Ariza, who opted out of the NBA restart to fulfill custody requirements with his son. It will be the first time Anthony has played small forward since 2017, when he was with the New York Knicks.

“Once coach told me I would be switching back to the three, I kind of challenged myself to get down to the weight where I feel comfortable playing the three, comfortable running around,” Anthony said. “That was a big motivation for me.”

Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts said it’s not difficult to notice the change in Anthony’s build.

“The pictures are obvious,” Stotts said. “The pictures you’ve seen of him on Instagram or social media, it’s obvious his body has changed a little bit.”

Stotts isn’t the only member of the Blazers organization to notice the slimming down of Melo. Teammate CJ McCollum weighed in on Melo’s transformation.

“I told him it looks like he has lost weight,” McCollum said. “But he hasn’t lost that many pounds. It’s more so turning some of the fat into muscle and leaning out. But he’s always around the same weight, he just carries it differently, so when he has those little tights on and the muscle shirt, he looks thinner. But he’s moving well and in good shape and ready to go.”

McCollum is on to something with his take on Melo’s body weight. When Anthony was drafted third overall by Denver in 2003, he was listed at 233 pounds. The next season, the Nuggets’ roster had him at 220 pounds. Then in 2005-06, his weight was recorded as 230 pounds. Since he signed with the Blazers in November, the team has listed him at 240 pounds.

In the bubble Anthony weighed in between 230-235lbs, but his body fat has improved immensely.

“Believe it or not, I believe I only lost like 5 pounds or something like that,” Anthony said. “I think it’s just redistributed, the body fat that has been cut is kind of what you are seeing. The weight is the same, I usually fluctuate between 3 pounds, but the body fat has come down.”

The 36-year-old noted that he can feel the difference when moving on the court.

“Anytime you are able to cut weight or body fat, it makes it easier,” Anthony said. “You don’t have to drag around excess body weight or body fat … so you come in healthy, that’s the most important thing. I’m healthy and in shape.”

If you are looking to copy Melo’s regimen, good luck. He isn’t in any rush to handout his blueprint to success. Only details he gave is that it was an intense change in diet.

For NBA fans it is a new look, but for Melo this is old news.

“A lot of off-seasons I get like this, you guys just don’t see me … I get into this mode in the offseason.”

As the Blazers ramp up the work load to get ready for their 8 game push to make the playoffs, Melo can only laugh off the nicknames his teammates are giving him.

“Every summer it’s a different name for me — ‘Skinny Melo’ … ‘Hoodie Melo’ … ‘USA Melo’ …  — but at the end of the day, I’m me, and I knew how important this was for us coming back, and how locked in we had to be.”

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