Blog Entry

Melo must change to be great

Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:26 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:30 pm
Will Carmelo Anthony's legacy be more than just that of a pure shooter? (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Gregg Doyel of writes Wednesday of how Carmelo Anthony has a chance to be special and thus far... simply hasn't. Doyel specifically outlines a fact debated and wrought over constantly when it comes to Anthony, the fact that he is primarily a scorer. In these here blog circles, it's a bit more narrow than that: Melo can best be described as a volume shooter. Scorer's can be efficient, sharp-shooting, bucket-filling maniacs who don't excel at much of anything else, but what they do, they do exceptionally well. Anthony, on the other hand, is going to shoot roughly the same amount from game to game. There are nights when he's going to be brutally efficient. There are nights when he's going to be brutally inefficient. The approach never changes. And that may be the biggest problem of all with Anthony's game.

Doyel talks about the threat of winding up like a pre-Boston Kevin Garnett, what with the high praise and no substantive playoff success outside of a single season. Two thoughts there:

  • The immediate response is to bring up Anthony's Nuggets' 2009 run to the Western Conference Finals. There are a number of things to note in that regard, however. First, the Nuggets' second-round win over the Mavericks was about as tough as a series that short can be, with a crucial non-call on an intentional foul late providing quite a bit of drama in the proceedings. Second, the West that year was paper thin. It was essentially the Lakers and that's it. This isn't to take away from that Denver team, but it needs to be noted. And third, that Denver team was the same as it was for years with Melo; their success was as much due to Anthony's brilliance as it was to George Karl's ability to coach around Anthony's talents. The two things worked side-by-side, they just didn't necessarily work together. It was like "The Nuggets do this, this, and this well, and also Carmelo Anthony is very good." 
  • Doyel mentions that Garnett did everything else in his time in Minnesota, "scored, rebounded, assisted, defended, hustled, led."
And it's that last part that seems particularly relevant as the Knicks continue to try and adjust to life with his nearly entirely new lineup from the start of the season (and without a major trade!). Jeremy Lin, J.R. Smith, Melo, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. How does Anthony fit? We've talked about some x's and o's, but there are some other questions invovled.

For starters, most volume shooters are that because they are not good at any other particular area. Is Anthony that kind of player? Well, no. He's averaged 6.3 rebounds for his career, with a high of 7.3, very good for a small forward. Anthony can have games where he controls the defensive glass. What about passing? The 2009 Western Conference Finals run from Anthony's Nuggets featured him dishing 4.1 assists per game. He had a 19.8 percent assist rate that season (percentage of team assists), higher than any regular season for Anthony before... this one? We'll come back to that in a minute. And what about defense? There are metrics I could run at you, but let's just say this. 

The Nuggets' most successful season with Anthony, that 2009 run, came when Anthony became a lock down defender for about 30 games. He was simply phenomenal. That may be the most frustrating thing about Anthony, who is widely regarded as a turnstyle defensively. He can be an excellent defender. He can lock up guys, destroy their spacing, ruin their day. He just... doesn't. 

The key for Anthony may be honestly to get as far away from one of his biggest mentors' approaches as possible. Anthony and Kobe Bryant share a kinship in their approach to the game. But Bryant's success in essentially doing things his way 100 percent of the time is nearly impossible to duplicate. Maybe if Anthony had Phil Jackson, it would be easier. But he doesn't. And if he wants to be successful right now, moving away from an intractable approach and towards a dominance in versatility is the best thing for him. He needs to do everything.

There are signs Melo is trying. He worked off ball for much of the first-half against the Heat, making cuts to get to the rim. It was only after the Heat had buried the Knicks (and Lin) with their suffocating defense that Anthony returned to blistering the offensive flow with Isolation sets shallow in the shot clock. His assist rate, as previously mentioned, is the highest of his career at 22.7 percent, over four per game. He's clearly trying to get his teammates involved. He's eighth among small forwards playing 30 minutes or more this season in assist rate. With the kind of talent around him, is that enough? How much can we reasonably expect?

The answer's not in the empirical, it's in the perceptible. The shift needs to continue to be Anthony working to get out of his comfort zone. Bryant has remarked several times about hoping Anthony doesn't shift his approach due to the criticism. Thing is, that criticism isn't (always) unwarranted or about devaluing his elite gifts as a scorer. It's about fit, and flow, and making the Knicks the best they can be. Michael Jordan got to play the way he wanted because he was the greatest of all time. Kobe Bryant has been able to because he's the second greatest shooting guard of all time and he was granted a team specifically built to provide him with the best support possible. Anthony is trying to fit in with a team of good players, and he is not one of the greatest of all time.

Anthony can do something "special" as Doyel describes, but he's got to become versatile, he's got to take the same approach to the other parts of the game that he does to scoring. He's always going to get the ball late with a chance to win. He's always going to get a chance to rise and fire. But for it to matter he has to take on the rest of the things that make up a complete game. 

Anthony can be great, if he chooses to be. Making this Knicks team work isn't easy. When life is hard, you have to change.

Since: Dec 20, 2008
Posted on: March 10, 2012 10:34 pm

Melo must change to be great

Its not just about him not being willing to change, he's just not capable of changing.  The guy cannot play transtion basketball, he isn't quick, energetic, or athletic enough. 

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: March 10, 2012 5:30 pm

Melo must change to be great

'Melo isn't going to change.  It is too late in his career for him to even want to.  He has enough ego and money that he doesn't feel any urgency to do anything different that what has been successful for him personally.  My guess is that he has enough sycophants that he feels he belongs in the hall of fame, and that his individual "accomplishments" trump the need to have a championship ring.  Besides, he got one at Syracuse.  

"Melo is for those who don't do HTML: he is WYSIWYG.  If you want someone who does exactly what he does on your team, great.  If you don't, trade him.  Just don't expect him to change for anyone. 

Since: Dec 15, 2011
Posted on: March 10, 2012 1:31 pm

Melo must change to be great

Melo isnt the problem it's the fact that in mike dantonis system it is ment to have four shooters and one post player and the have chandler and amar'e.The soultion maybe trade one for a big the can shoot

Since: Jan 30, 2012
Posted on: March 10, 2012 12:40 pm

Melo must change to be great

only hope for knicks to became a team:TRADE MELO,gratis if necessary

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: March 9, 2012 3:12 pm

Melo must change to be great

Not sure what the panicking is about!   Lin and Melo have only played a handful of games together, they didn't have a training camp, they didn't have a real preseason, they've had injuries....damn, some of you sound like women!  The Knicks weren't going to win a NBA title this year anyway!   

Since: Jul 5, 2008
Posted on: March 9, 2012 2:57 pm

Melo must change to be great

Firing D'Antoni is not the answer and no Phil Jackson is not going to coach the team the rest of the season.  Nobody wants Stat right now and I assume you did not read the entire article because they just said Melo can play defense but doesn't.  The Knicks switching defense is a function of Woodson, I would rather see them play a zone than the constant switching.  Jerome Jordan is not ready for prime time otherwise he would get some burn.  The Knicks are already using an 11 man rotation how many more players do you want to add to that?  What is frustrating to everyone is that Melo has a chance to be bigger than life, if he would just commit to playing defense the Knicks would be significantly better.  I want Melo to stand up and tell the rest of the team "Follow me to the championship" but he hasn't done it yet.  Here's to Melo becoming the King of NY and to a Knicks playoff run.

Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: March 9, 2012 2:29 pm

Melo must change to be great

Why would he hustle when he knows he will get the ball and get his shots....  He is a good talent but he is pretty complacent when it comes to excerting himself on the court.  He hangs out at the wing waiting for the ball, has little movement without the ball and doesn't run the break all that well.  (he can cherry pick with the best of them though).  He tipifies the quality of today's "me first" NBA. 

Since: Feb 17, 2012
Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:51 pm

Melo must change to be great

If you look at his FG%, he's not unsuccessful.  his FG% is right there with the great ones.  Everyone misses baskets.  If anything his FG% is higher than other shooters.  And the reason why is because he takes advantage of his size and quickness to take it to the hole.

the argument about shot attempts is poor at best.  look at his fg% and compare the shot attempts with other "volume shooters".

The one thing I agree with is that I wish Melo's d was better.  He can be great at defense, and shows potential, but is not there yet.  But to say that's because he is lazy is unwarranted.  We can all sit here and discuss this all night long - but just because he's making $$$ and has the power to move to a team he wants to doesn't mean he's lazy.  the unathletic and unintelligent part is really just ATW being ATW - not knowing what else to throw out at people.  "unathletic and unintelligent" - please. 

That's why, he's a phenomenal, elite player, but he's not ranked top 5, because there are greater defenders that do what he does as well.

The comparison that Moore does only goes one way.  George Karl is a great coach, and the 09 Denver team was great - regardless of how the Western Conference look.  But at the same time, hind sight is 20-20.  what if the Nuggets had Phil Jackson?  Why, with such a great court, great talent like andre miller, Nene and company, wasn't Karl able to exploit melo and take everyone further each and every year?  Every year is different. 

I think this article was a way for Moore to back up his colleague by using more thought-out logic and language. 

But his game is not one dimensional.  just because he's a "volume shooter" doesn't mean he's one-dimensional.  you cannot dispute numbers, and his averages show that he is not one dimensional.  It's just that his defense is not that great when compared to the elite ones like DWade, Kobe and LeBron.  Not to mention, defensive stats are not the only way to measure one's defense in the game.  Look at Bruce Bowen, Shane Battier, etc. compared to Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Serge Ibaka, etc.  Just because Bruce Bowen didn't average 2+ steals per game doesn't mean he was not a great defender.  I'm not saying that melo is a lockdown defender, but what i'm saying is that comparing defensive stats alone is not conclusive evidence of one's defensive game.
So, Melo is already great at what he does.  He does not have to change.  Kobe said he hoped that Melo didn't change his approach because of the media's criticism.  I couldn't agree more.  If I'm Melo, i'd rather take criticism from other players, not random bloggers.

Since: Dec 20, 2008
Posted on: March 5, 2012 3:15 am

Melo must change to be great

Melo can't play D, can't play transition basketball, can't pass well, can't run the court... You would think that this hyped so called one dimensional great shooter would be some kind of scoring assassin since all he know how to do is receive and shoot. But he's even overrated in that department too, he misses baskets like crazy. The only reason why he's still fooling a few dummies into believing the illusion that he's some kind of awesome scorer is because those fans haven't realized how many shot attempts Melo gets to take to get his point total. If Melo doesn't take 2 -3 times more shots than anyone else on the court, he doesn't get his points. Melo is nothing more than a lazy, unathletic, and unintelligent ballplayer.

Since: Feb 6, 2011
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:30 am

Melo must change to be great


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