COMMENTARY | On Feb. 21, 2011, the fortunes of one man and two franchises changed forever.
After months of speculation, Carmelo Anthony became a member of the New York Knicks. The price was modest, costing the Knicks Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round pick, two second-round picks and $3 million.
Despite the deep discount, the move was not a shrewd one for the Knicks. Even as a die-hard Syracuse fan, Anthony's game hasn't impressed me much since he entered the NBA in 2003. Not many players, just four to be exact, have managed to score 50 points in a game without an assist, something Anthony did two weeks before the Denver Nuggets traded him away. Denver lost that game, as did two of the other three teams who have had players perform such a feat.
In that statistic, particularly the 1-3 record, lies the major issue with Anthony. A volume scorer who can hit any shot on the floor, Anthony knows it and loves nothing more than hoisting up jumpers at the expense of ball movement. The definition of a ball-stopper, Anthony's game is played in isolation while his teammates look on in either awe or disgust. With his current style of play, he will never win a championship as the best player on his team. Pairing him with a similar player in Amar'e Stoudemire was questionable at best.
At different points in the 2012-13 season, however, it looked like Anthony was developing more of a team-first attitude, benefiting from the veteran leadership of Jason Kidd and even Pablo Prigioni. In January and February, Anthony averaged almost four assists per game, a more-than-acceptable number for a scorer of his caliber. In March and April, that average fell to just below two assists per game and in the playoffs, Anthony averaged 1.6 assists per game to go with 41-percent shooting, including 30 percent from downtown.
The saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is a great description of Anthony's issues with sharing, the Knicks' issues as a team, and the reason he is generally overrated, as I wrote a few days before the trade. The inclusions of Williams and Stoudemire on the list are certainly debatable in hindsight, but let's not forget how well Stoudemire was playing before he was paired with Anthony.
Russell Westbrook has to be included in that top 10 list now as well, with Stephen Curry knocking on the door after his amazing season and playoff performance. Even Tony Parker is deserving of consideration. While many consider Anthony a borderline top-five NBA player, he's not. His only above-average trait is his scoring ability, which, while elite, does not make a championship-caliber lead dog on its own.
The ideal star pairing for a scoring forward like Anthony is a star point guard in the mold of Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo. With all apologies to Raymond Felton, he isn't the type of leader or distributor that Anthony needs to put him in his place. With the news that Stoudemire is likely to face a severe minutes-limit this year, the Knicks' supporting cast leaves much to be desired for the next two seasons.
Anthony has an early termination option in his contract after this season, and the early word is that it's "50-50" whether he stays in New York or goes to Los Angeles. The way the Knicks' roster is constructed for the next two seasons, their ceiling is likely the Eastern Conference finals. While it would hurt the franchise and its loyal fans to watch Anthony skip town, their shot at an NBA title won't leave with him.
Chris Tripodi lives in New York and has been a Knicks fan since the days of Patrick Ewing and John Starks in the early 1990s. He has written for numerous online sources, namely Draft Insider, Optimum Scouting and Jets 101. Follow him on Twitter @christripodi.
- Sports & Recreation
- Carmelo Anthony
- New York Knicks