Is Carmelo Anthony the Answer?

The New York Knicks face a bit of a conundrum.Their superstar franchise player Carmelo Anthony is 31 years old, and is coming off a major knee injury that required him to miss half of the 2014-15 NBA season. His career average usage percent is around 32%. To put it in perspective, Lebron James carried a 32.3% usage rate in the 2014-15 NBA season, and everyone knows the workload James has had to endure because it’s on ESPN every other day.

Frank Franklin II
Frank Franklin II

Anthony is the superstar the Knicks are supposedly trying to build around, but with Phil Jackson’s move of drafting Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, an obvious multi-year project, led some to believe the Knicks are willing to move on without their scoring machine. An in depth analysis of Anthony’s best statistical Knick season will prove whether or not the $124 million man is a winning franchise player.

Carmelo Anthony’s best statistical Knick season was the 2013-14 season, he had a solid supporting cast and coach, shot 45% from the field, and played 38 minutes a game.

Anthony shot the ball with a remarkable frequency of 21.9% when the shot clock ranged from 7-0 seconds left. This shows a lack of ball movement, which could’ve been a result of coaching (Mike Woodson, defensively gifted, offensively challenged) and selfish play by Anthony.

Anthony also took an alarming 3.7 shots per game while guarded “very tight” (0-2 feet of space between the defender and Anthony). Anthony took 32.2% of the Knicks shots while on the court that season, yet he still shot a good percentage from the field at 45% on the season.

Anthony also has an extremely low percentage of team’s assists while the player is on the court, at 19.4%. Monta Ellis, the known ball-stopper for the Mavericks (now Pacers) had a 31.7% assist percentage. Anthony averaged 41.1 passes per game, Josh Smith, bad shot taker and not maker, averaged 34.3 passes per game. Guess who averaged more assists? Smith, with 3.3 a game.  Anthony averaged 3.1.

Anthony’s net rating of .9 in 2013-14 was also mediocre at best. Net rating is the difference in a player’s offensive and defensive rating, showing how effective the team is when the player is on the court. Comparably, Kevin Durant’s net rating was 8.0. Give Anthony the benefit of the doubt because Durant is a top two player in the NBA when healthy and compare it to a relatively average small forward in the league, Nicolas Batum. Batum had a Net Rating of 5.1 in 2013-14.

His defensive net rating of 105.9 is not terrible, however, even though Anthony is widely considered a subpar defender at best. When guarded by Anthony, opponents shot 43% from the field, which is decent. He is big, strong, and mobile. His best bet is covering power forwards in a small ball situation because Anthony can bang with them down low, and mix it in while rebounding the ball offensively and defensively at a good rate.

One of Anthony’s calling cards is his ability to perform in the clutch.

However, he shot 36.8% from the field, and 26.3% from the three-point line in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter with a maximum 5 point differential between each team. Lebron, infamously an “un-clutch” player, shot 47.1% and 34.6%, respectively.

New York Times
New York Times

In the end, Anthony is an aging star scorer who has endured a lot of grinding, rebounding, Barkley-esque basketball for the last 12 years. He is a subpar defender and a capable semi-efficient scorer when the right pieces are around him. He has to improve on his passing in Derek Fisher’s (a.k.a Phil Jackson’s system) to promote ball movement and spacing, and his clutch play has to improve as well to be the go to scorer on the team, and hopefully with enough weapons around him it’ll be easier.

Anthony is more than capable offensively in a ball movement system, shooting 48% and 43% on two point field goals and three point field goals, respectively, off of catch and shoot situations, and works best offensively while taking one to two dribbles to the basket. So, is this 31-year-old scoring sensation out of Syracuse the deserved franchise player for the Knicks for the present and near future?

Only time will tell.

 

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