By Max Marcilla
Like any superstar in the NBA, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony gets tons of praise when his team is doing well. Also like any superstar in the NBA, Melo is the victim of merciless criticism when his team is struggling, and it is hard to argue that Anthony’s Knicks have not been the NBA’s biggest disappointment.
It is clear through looking at the standings, in which the Knicks sit in 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 15-25 record, that the Knicks are not playing well at all. However, what is not visible through looking at the weak record that Anthony is having one of the better seasons of his career.
Melo is currently second in the NBA averaging 26.1 PPG, and is shooting 44%, just one percent lower than last year’s percentage. His rebounding has also picked up this season as Anthony is grabbing 9 rebounds a game, which ranks him 20th in the league, and 9th amongst forwards.
Anthony’s strong performance thus far has not led to a winning record, and I believe it is because of the supporting cast and not the man named Melo.
Last season the Knicks supplied their superstar with key players who stepped up in the regular season. Players like J.R. Smith who won 6th Man of the Year award, Tyson Chandler who was on the All-NBA Defensive First Team, and Raymond Felton who played debatably his best year of basketball since entering the NBA.
This year, that has all changed.
The Knicks have given Anthony pieces, but the pieces haven’t molded together yet, and at the rate things are going, they may never mold. The organization made a bold move when they traded for former Raptor’s forward-center Andrea Bargnani, but in his first year as a Knick, Bargnani has been the cause of many problems. His shooting has gone down from recent years, and he has had major issues playing with Tyson Chandler. He is a very good on the ball defender but his help defense is atrocious.
J.R. Smith, who was such a key player in last season’s success, has had himself a disastrous season, not just on the court, but also off. Smith has seen his production on the court drop, as both field goal percentage and points per game are significantly down from a year ago.
Even things that the Knicks can’t control, such as injuries, are hurting them (no pun intended.) Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin are both currently injured with sprained left ankles, and will be out for about two weeks. Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton both sat out periods of time with multiple injuries, and Tyson’s usual yearly illness has struck again.
However, while there is a lot of blame to be spread around, I repeat, do NOT put any on Melo.
The soon-to-be 7-time all-star has done all he can do to evolve his game and take over when he needs to. Anthony has read double teams well and worked on moving the ball better, but when it comes down to it, if no one is making shots, the passes do not matter.
When Anthony has four or more assists, the Knicks are 11-2, but when he has three or less, the Knicks are 4-20. This is something to keep an eye on throughout the remainder of the season.
The Knicks have seven consecutive home games to try to fix their issues, but one thing is for sure: Carmelo Anthony is NOT a part of the problem.