It has been a tumultuous offseason for New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who has been subject to trade rumors for the past several months. With the Knicks' first preseason game less than a month away on October 3, Anthony is now dealing with even more negative media attention. ESPN, which has been slowly releasing its NBA Rank of the top 200 players in the league, released rankings 51-75 on Tuesday. To the surprise of many, Anthony checked in way down at number 64.

Carmelo's decline

The decline has been steep for Anthony, who was ranked 11th on the heels of a 2013-14 campaign in which he averaged 27.4 points per game and a career-high 8.1 rebounds.

NBA Rank placed Anthony at No. 27 in 2015—a notable drop, but still a respectable number—and No. 31 in 2016. The 10-time All-Star now finds himself behind players like Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and Philadelphia 76ers defensive specialist Robert Covington, who averaged just 12.9 points per game on 39.9 percent from the field last season.

There is no question that the quality of Anthony's game has diminished in recent years, which is only natural as a player ages past his prime years, but the 33-year-old still managed to score 22.4 points on 18.8 shots per game last season—that scoring average tops players like Klay Thompson (22.3 points on 17.6 shots) and budding star Devin Booker (22.1 points on 18.3 shots).

This is no longer the Carmelo Anthony who led the league in scoring in 2012-13, nor is he the same cornrowed superstar who led the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals. But is Anthony—a player who was named an All-Star last season—really no better than the 64th-best player in the league? Let's take a look at why ESPN's experts decided to rank him so low and determine whether these judgments are fair.

Limited diversity to his game

We all know that Melo can score. Just a few years ago, it was arguable that Anthony was the best half-court scorer in the NBA. But basketball is about more than simply racking up points for yourself—it's also about helping teammates score points and preventing opponents from doing the same. This is where Anthony's biggest knock lies: While he has the scoring down, the other facets of his game have rarely been strengths over the years.

During Anthony's prime, this was forgivable. After all, finding a lethal scorer is among the most difficult tasks for an NBA general manager, so when you can rely on a player to score in the mid-to-high-20s every night, it's not the biggest deal if he doesn't pass, rebound, or defend particularly well. But when a player's scoring average drops into the low 20s on an inefficient field-goal percentage, as Anthony's has (22.4 points on 43.3 shooting last season), it makes it more difficult to accept his shortcomings.

That being said, NBA Rank still seems to be giving Anthony a bum rap. He's ranked below players like the Los Angeles Clippers' Danilo Gallinari (No. 54), who averaged fewer points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks than Anthony did last season.

On top of all that, Gallinari is notoriously injury-prone, and he played in 11 fewer games than Anthony did in 2016-17. Gallinari was more efficient, topping Anthony 62.2 to 53.5 in true shooting percentage, but that doesn't seem like quite enough to erase all of Anthony's other advantages and put Gallinari a full ten spots ahead of him.

Anthony may be one-dimensional, but that's the case with many impact players in the NBA (like Gallinari), so his scoring prowess alone should be enough to earn him a spot above No. 64.

No respect for their elders

At this point in Anthony's career, his play is not going to get significantly better, whereas many young players throughout the league will elevate their games.

This is part of what caused Anthony's plummet in the NBA Rank—the rankings are not just based on last year but also based on how players project for the upcoming season.

It's not totally unfathomable that Anthony could have a bounce-back campaign and improve upon his 2016-17 production—take Manu Ginobili, for example, who was an All-Star at age 33 after not making the team from ages 28 through 32—but history tells us that Anthony is more likely to stay the same or get worse this season. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Andrew Wiggins (No. 57) will look to improve his one-dimensional game, 26-year-old stat-sheet-stuffer Robert Covington (No. 55) will look to improve his offensive efficiency, 25-year-old Harrison Barnes (No.

58) will look to take a step forward as the focal point of the Dallas Mavericks' offense, and countless other young players will look to improve their respective games.

But there's still something special about a player like Anthony, who came into the league at 19 years old and has never averaged less than 20.8 points per game. He may not have the same upside as a Wiggins, a Covington, or a Barnes, but we have a pretty good idea of what we're going to get from him: points, and lots of them.

NBA Rank seems to be disrespecting Anthony's reliable scoring contributions by ranking him below unproven players like Malcolm Brogdon (No. 56) and Lonzo Ball (No. 63).

Brogdon was an exciting surprise last season as a second-round pick who earned Rookie of the Year honors, but we're still talking about a point guard who averaged just 10.2 points and 4.2 assists per game.

Brogdon is a better defender than Anthony, but the two players were tied in defensive win shares (1.5), and Anthony (3.2) easily topped Brogdon (2.6) in offensive win shares. Brogdon's projection seems to be based on expected improvement despite the fact that the 24-year-old dropped to the second round of the draft largely due to a lack of perceived upside.

Meanwhile, Ball is ranked above Anthony without ever having played an NBA game. Sure, Ball was a Summer League standout with 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, and 7.7 rebounds per game, but Summer League is not the NBA, and the 19-year-old still chucked up a ton of bricks (38.2 field-goal percentage) in the glorified pick-up games. Ball very well may be great by rookie standards, but to expect him to immediately outperform a 33-year-old future Hall of Fame player is a good way to set yourself up for disappointment.

Anthony is likely past the point of improving his game, but some of the projections of young players on this NBA Rank list are a little too bold.

Doesn't elevate his team

In the NBA, one truly great player is often enough to elevate a team to playoff contention. With only five players on the court, a star is able to make an enormous impact. For this reason, a player who simply puts up impressive numbers without leading his team to wins is often not considered to be a truly great player.

In recent years, Anthony has fallen into this category. Since finishing with a strong record of 54-28 in 2012-13, Anthony's Knicks have averaged a putrid 29.3 wins per season. Not all of those struggles can be blamed on Anthony, as the organization has been a mess in a number of ways, but traditionally, the league's top players are able to at least get their teams into the playoff mix, and the Knicks haven't sniffed the playoffs in years despite Anthony's presence.

If you take a look at the top 10 players from last year's NBA Rank (this year's top 10 has yet to be released), the players' teams averaged a whopping 52 wins the previous season. Nine of the 10 players' teams made the playoffs the year before, with the only exception being Anthony Davis, who was ranked largely based on his expected growth at the age of 23 and was surrounded by very little talent on the New Orleans Pelicans.

Granted, we're not determining whether Anthony should be ranked in the top 10 because he absolutely shouldn't be—we're determining whether he should be ranked at No. 64. Is his inability to lead the Knicks to strong win totals really so bad that he should be ranked that low?

Probably not.

Some of the players ranked significantly above Anthony play for teams that couldn't do much in the way of winning games last season. Eric Bledsoe is ranked all the way up at No. 37, yet his Phoenix Suns finished with the worst record in the Western Conference last season at 24-58 (worse than the Knicks). Ricky Rubio, ranked 48th, was the point guard of a Minnesota Timberwolves team loaded with young talent in players like Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns, yet they managed only 31 wins (the same as the Knicks). Brook Lopez, a true seven-footer who is shockingly bad at rebounding (5.4 per game last season), led his Brooklyn Nets to the worst record in the NBA, 20-62, yet he settled in at No.

51 on the list.

It seems like Anthony is no longer the type of player who can take a subpar roster and elevate it to become a playoff contender, but that is also the case with a number of other players who ranked far above him on the NBA Rank list. Anthony doesn't belong ranked with the elite players, the LeBron James and Russell Westbrook types who can singlehandedly turn a bad squad into a good one, but his inability to do that does not outweigh the basketball talent that he so clearly possesses.

In summation

Carmelo Anthony does not rank with LeBron James or Stephen Curry. In fact, he doesn't even rank with Klay Thompson or Damian Lillard. But he is still a big, physical player capable of elite scoring, making him extremely useful on offense.

He is a defensive liability, but he is still more competent on that end than a sieve like James Harden (ranked No. 8 last year) or Danilo Gallinari. He belongs above rookie players in the rankings. He belongs above role players who happen to play for good teams. He's not a top-20 player anymore. He probably doesn't even warrant top-30 consideration. But No. 64? Come on, he's not that bad.