March 10, 2011
When the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony(notes) a few days before this season's deadline, many informed commentators said it was a mistake. Melo was either too inefficient to warrant such a large package, or the Knicks were giving up future financial flexibility for a middling roster, or Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) weren't a good fit as a tandem. Those opinions all have some degree of validity, whether grounded in statistical data or not, and they will color discussion of this acquisition for at least the next year.
Anthony didn't answer every question with his performance Wednesday night, but he certainly helped make the Knicks' case for the trade. In 40 minutes, Melo went 12 of 24 from the field for 31 points (his second 30-point game in a row), six assists, and just two turnovers. Oh, plus he hit his first game-winning shot for the Knicks, a jumper with 0.5 seconds left on the clock to give the Knicks a 110-108 win in Memphis. Melo may be somewhat inefficient on the whole, but he's one of the top crunch-time scorers in the league, regularly hitting shots to win games with accuracy better than more publicized clutch performers like Kobe Bryant(notes). It's perhaps Melo's best skill and a major reason the Knicks brought him to New York.
Again, the verdict is far from in on Melo, but he seems more comfortable in Mike D'Antoni's system with every passing game. No doubt, the long-term issues for the Knicks are the same, and new salary cap restrictions instituted this summer could very well kill their attempt to build a dynasty before it really gets going. If Melo keeps hitting shots like this, though, then at least their fans will get to see some entertaining basketball.
(Original video via @jose3030)