Before the season started, Carmelo Anthony literally laughed at the idea of coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
However, after Melo's new team has gotten off to a sluggish 7-8 start and looks like it isn't ready to compete among the big boys in the Western Conference, something needs to change quickly.
Reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, former Indiana Pacers star Paul George and Anthony haven't found an on-court chemistry yet, and with only this season to experiment together before George can leave as a free agent, the Thunder don't have time to mess around much longer.
Therefore, even though Melo won't like it, coach Billy Donovan should approach the star forward about making a move to the bench. Other star players have done it in the past, so Melo shouldn't feel like he's too good for it.
There are several reasons Anthony should seriously consider eating his words from before the season and accept a bench role.
Here are three of the biggest reasons why bringing Melo off the bench would help the Thunder turn things around after a slow start to the 2017-18 season:
It gives the second unit more firepower
Currently, the Thunder's top bench unit is made up of Raymond Felton, Jerami Grant, Nick Huestis, Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson - not exactly the most fear-inducing group of guys.
Sliding Patterson into the starting lineup and bringing Melo off the bench (while still giving Melo his full 32 minutes per game) would help the Thunder immensely. Not only does Patterson's 3-and-D style fit more with George and Westbrook, but Melo's scoring prowess is desperately needed by the second unit.
If Melo remains in the starting lineup, it won't matter how big of a lead the starters build up if the backups are so bad they can't hang onto it. Putting Melo into a Manu Ginobili-style role would be in the best interests of everyone.
It allows Westbrook and George to run more
Last season, Westbrook torched the rest of the league and averaged a season-long triple-double thanks to his insane up-tempo style of play. PG-13 is athletic enough and young enough to be a great running mate for Westbrook in that system.
However, Melo does his best work in isolation, which really slows down an offense. That's not a bad thing, as Melo is one of the best pure scorers in league history, but it doesn't exactly fit with the style of play Westbrook likes.
Therefore, allowing Anthony to control the ball with the second unit, while also providing a serious scoring threat, would be in the Thunder's best interest.
He could still finish the game on the court
In today's NBA, starting lineups aren't what matters when it really comes down to it - it's about being one of the five guys on the court in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line.
Obviously, Anthony has a track record of making clutch shots over the course of his NBA career, so you want him on the court when it matters most. However, the early minutes of the first quarter are certainly not when it matters most.
It's not how you start, it's how you finish. If someone could convince Melo of that, the Thunder would be leading in the fourth quarter of more games instead of playing catchup.