The New York Knicks began the 2012-2013 season hitting on all cylinders from an offensive stand point, which proved to be a key contributor to winning 21 of their first 30 games. The Knicks fed off their torrid offensive start on the defensive end as well, showcasing high energy on both sides of the ball that was contagious throughout the entire team. Behind the NBA’s second leading scorer in Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks seemed to have excellent second, third, and even fourth reliable scoring option between JR Smith’s hot start, Raymond Felton’s determined play, and the thought of Amare Stoudemire itching to return to the court at any moment.
That’s not really the case anymore today, is it? Now, after a mediocre 20-20 record in the last 40 games, Knicks fans find themselves wondering if their is even one reliable scoring option not named Carmelo. Smith’s hot start has evolved into a model of inconsistency, and the same can be said about Felton’s game since his return from a broken pinky. We all know what the status of Stoudemire is by know, and the option of him not even returning this year still looms.
It is clear to see that the Knicks need to make a change, and I’m tired of talking about different lineups. It’s incredible how many different looks Head Coach Mike Woodson has mustered up on the court this past month, but these problems can be solved by simple, fundamental changes to the Knicks hot and cold style of play.
For all the Knicks fans that constantly complain about Carmelo’s energy, or defensive effort, enough. The guy unquestionably puts forth full effort, you do not become a professional superstar without that characteristic, regardless if your labeled a “diva.” Carmelo’s ability to score is off the charts, and he does not get nearly enough credit for how strong he is in the paint.
So Carmelo, please, stop shooting eight three-pointers a game. As much as I beleive it’s one of the prettiest sites in the league watching you face up your defender, dribble through your legs a few times, then pull up so fast the ball is clear through the net before the defender can look up, it’s time for you to get on the block. All night. So many of the Knicks quick, unnecessary three-pointers, lead to defensive break downs and fast break points for the opposition. With Carmelo committing to the block more often, he can kick it out when he gets doubled, freeing up fundamentally sound three-point shots.
Please do not get me wrong, I am not about to compare Lebron James and Carmelo with what I’m about to point out, because they are two completely different players, with different styles. I find it obnoxious when that conversation is brought up, because I’m pretty positive their are no two people or players on Earth that are exactly alike. However, he should still follow his lead on this one, and take a page out of his book.
When Lebron joined the Miami Heat in 2010, their struggles lied within the paint, vurtually getting no scoring prescense inside. Chris Bosh is one of the best bigs in the league, but he tends to stray away from the paint often, being a knock down mid-range jump shooter. Dwayne Wade dominate’s the ball much like Lebron’s game, so it was the big three that realized they had to make adjustments. After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011, Lebron committed himself to building a solid post game for the upcoming season, ultimately filling that void for the Heat.
James transformed his game after his inuagaral season with the Heat, causing opposing teams mayhem with their matchups. In 2011, Lebron posted up on the block on nearly seven percent of his offesnive plays. It was a different story when 2012 came around, as Lebron’s post plays sky-rocketed close to 15 percent. James was scoring on over 60 percent of the times he posted up, proving to be a primary reason the Heat have soared to a different level from most teams. In the mist of Lebron’s new found commitment on the offensive end, the Heat went on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals to win the 2012 NBA championship.
Kobe Bryant is another prime example of this offensive change, but he had to adjust for a different reason. Kobe certainly doesn’t have the same springs that had derived to Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, but he still went on to win two championships during the same period people were calling him “old.” A main for reason for that, perfecting his post-game and footwork. Kobe and Lebron had both worked out with the great Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, and it payed off. So what are you waiting for Carmelo? It’s your turn.
It’s not out of the realm at all to believe Carmelo can’t make this shift in his game. I’m not suggesting the adjustment from the stand point of an offensive struggle from Carmelo, because that is very rarely an issue. It’s a team matter, and everyone will become more productive if the offensive was run through Carmelo on the block, opposed to erratic jump shots that give no one an opportunity to get an offensive rebound. Tyson Chandler’s value is close to irreplaceable when it comes to defense and rebounding, but his post-game is clearly a handicap for the Knicks in many occurances.
Carmelo has all the basketball talent in the world, and when you couple that with a 6’8, 235 pound frame, only one aspect is missing. The ability to make your teammates better. If Carmelo can commit to the post more often, this team can finally begin to establish a permanent identity. So please Carmelo, I beg of you, pick up the phone, and get “The Dream” on the line as soon as possible.