Just when Carmelo Anthony buried the hatchet with one adversary, he seemed to discover that he might actually be his own worst enemy. Minutes after the Knicks’ brutal double-OT loss to the Denver Knuggets on Saturday night, an unusually candid ‘Melo for the first time admitted publicly that a self-evaluation of his game is necessary, and for coach Mike D’Antoni and New York’s other “superstar” player, Amar’e Stoudemire, the revelations couldn’t have come at a better time.
We as a team need to do a better job getting Amar’e the ball. I have the ball in my hands. Maybe it’s on me. Maybe I have to give him the ball a little more, help him out with that. We’ll talk and try to figure it out together. If I’m doing too much, I want him to tell me. I want the guys on the team to tell me if I’m doing too much. – Carmelo Anthony
Only in ‘Melo’s ‘Melocentric world can the word “maybe’ be drenched with such unintended irony, but it’s a start.
The Knicks (6-10), losers of six-straight, are a team in free-fall. Making matters worse, their shockingly awful play has come against the second-easiest schedule in the NBA thus far, so it isn’t crazy to ask just how much worse things will get before the Knicks turn it around. If they turn it around.
One thing is clear: New York will not win games if ‘Melo continues to dominate the offense. See, e.g., the following:
Notwithstanding the fact that none of the above “Sidekicks” would take kindly to being labelled as such, the numbers are revealing. Player A and Sidekick A, as you’ve no doubt already surmised, are the Knick-duo of Anthony and Stoudemire. As you can see, ‘Melo is shooting disproportiately more often than is STAT. Both are mired in severe shooting slumps, but a 100+ disparity in attempts between the two max-contract players – each of whom is known for his offensive game – is one reason why the Knicks are four games below .500. Factoring in the quality of those collective shots – or lack thereof – and you’ve got a toxic Garden-mix.
Player B and Sidekick B are Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. At first glance, Kobe kind of shoots a lot. He leads the NBA in FGAs by a wide margin, having jacked up 127 more shots than his closest peer, none other than Mr. Anthony, and a whopping 15% more shots than Gasol. Bryant also plays with Andrew Bynum, who missed four games due to an early-season suspension, but it would seem that Laker coach Mike Brown’s offensive philosophy is Kobe, Kobe and more Kobe. Oh, if the playoffs started today, the Lakers would be the Western Conference’s “tenth seed.”
Player C and Sidekick C are LeBron James and Chris Bosh (Dwyane Wade has missed almost half of Miami’s games this season due to injury). Not only are James and Bosh playing with lethal efficiency, but they also share the basketball with one another, a strategy that historically leads to winning, something the 11-5 Heat know a little something about.
Player D and Sidekick D are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant is quite possibly the best basketball player in the world, yet he seems to coexist with Westbrook, an elite player in his own right. The 13-3 Oklahoma City Thunder? Yeah, they’re only sporting the league’s best record.
None of this means that ‘Melo is Kobe, Lebron or Durant, because he isn’t, and he never will be. But that’s not the point, and Anthony doesn’t need to be those guys to be a winning player. What he needs is to understand that just because the NBA is a star-driven league, head-down star-drivin’ to the basket isn’t always called for. Sure, Kobe can get away with a “me-first’ attitude on and off the court, but he’s afforded that luxury on account of those five rings. ‘Melo at this stage of his career? Not so much.
Stoudemire is a 53% career shooter and despite whispers that the power forward is hiding an injury, there is simply no reason for ‘Melo not to be fully-invested in the former’s success. After all, if we are to believe Anthony’s post-trade proclamations about winning – and I’m not sure I do – then his only priority should be to find a way to elevate the play of his teammates.
Anthony’s comments after the Denver loss struck me as heartfelt, honest and profound. I almost sensed an I-was-absent-the-day-they-taught-sharing-in-Kindergarten tone, but with the Knicks facing four road games in five nights, we’ll find out soon enough whether his actions speak louder than his words.
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Photo by @therick20