Wednesday, March 2, 2011

'Melo to the Knicks: Early returns are mixed

(photo courtesy of

The Knicks are 2-2 since trading for Carmelo Anthony and, as you can expect with an even record through four games, there have been ups and downs with this team.

-Anthony scores 29, comes up big in fourth quarter to lead Knicks to comeback win in Miami
-Chauncey Billups is averaging over 23 points, six assists and almost two steals per game and lived up to his Mr. Big Shot nickname against Miami
-The Knicks turned up the defensive intensity in the final three quarters against the Heat, showing that this team can play defense when it wants to.

-Up 84-73 with 1:24 left in the third quarter, the Knicks allow 37 fourth-quarter points and lose by six in Orlando. Billups is apparently no answer for Jameer Nelson.
-Carmelo Anthony has scored 108 points on 93 shots, making only 37 for a field-goal percentage of just under 40 percent. For comparison's sake, Billups has 93 points on just 49 shots.

You can excuse Anthony's poor shooting thus far as nerves or getting used to the system, but let's face reality. Anthony's career shooting percentage is 45.8%, which is solid but doesn't leave that much room for improvement from his current clip (at that rate he would have made 42 shots so far, slightly over one more per game).

Anthony is a high-volume shooter, but he's far from efficient. He bogs down the offense with his need to isolate and post-up on the low block and takes bad shots from outside his comfort zone. Yes, he can hit the occasional three-pointer but Anthony is a below-average perimeter shooter for a small forward. I'd rather see Amar'e Stoudemire shooting 18-footers than Anthony.

One thing I'm sure of through four games of watching the new-look Knicks is that while they are a better basketball team right now with Anthony and Billups on board, Anthony does not fit Mike D'Antoni's system. The link below agrees:

This bad fit leaves one solution, since it's obvious Anthony is here to stay: D'Antoni has to go. Many people would say "Good riddance." D'Antoni's up-tempo, shoot-quick style has led many to question whether his teams could ever win an NBA title.

I think it's more about the players you try to fit into the system. His Suns teams that made deep playoff runs a few years back were good, but it's hard for me to say they were the most talented team in the league (or even the West) and fell short. No system would've taken that team any farther than they went.

While I do like a lot of what I've seen from the Knicks since the trade, it's obvious that placing Anthony in D'Antoni's system is akin to trying to fit a square block in a round hole; you may solve parts of the puzzle, but you will never complete it.

With Stoudemire and Anthony in tow, the Knicks are more attractive to future free agents even if they won't have the money for an All-Star caliber point guard like Chris Paul or Deron Williams once Billups moves on. But the first title they win (if they win one) will not be with D'Antoni at the helm.

The Knicks are just 32-for-104 (30.4 percent) from beyond the arc since the trade. Before the trade, the Knicks shot over 36 percent from downtown. The only Knick that can be relied on now for consistent outside shooting is Billups, unless you trust Shawne Williams or Bill Walker to hit a big three-pointer down the stretch.

The Knicks will remain an inconsistent enigma as long as the mismatch between Anthony's game and D'Antoni's style exists. They will beat good teams on the road (like Miami) and struggle to close against others (like Orlando). Unfortunately for Knicks fans, the solution isn't coming this season.

No comments:

Post a Comment