Most basketball fans will say Kevin Durant is the greatest scorer in the game today, and may go down as the greatest in history. That was a title flaunted by Carmelo Anthony. Once, every Blue Knick moon we catch a glimpse of the star who once possessed that effervescent game.
Today, Melo is a shell of the player he used to be and appeared so destined to be.
A player who moved so eloquently without the ball has now been relegated to isolation plays. The former Syracuse star used to change floors faster than a New York minute, but now seems to labor around the court and wait for the ball. Most of all, the “Bully of the Block” has now disappeared, and we are left with memories of previous offensive prowess.
Whether the Knick still has the game is inconsequential at this point. The issue is why it is not being displayed quarter after quarter. Why has Melo lost his bop, his grime and most of his smile?
For those of you in denial of the significant drop-off in his game, think about how many one-dribble shots you see out of Melo now.
Or reflect on how many times you see him catch a ball off a double screen for a jumper. Lastly, how many times do we now see the man who should have been the 2003-2004 rookie of the year on the block punishing defenders?
As sad as it is for yours truly to accept, it is even sadder for the more delusional fan to realize. One of the game's brightest stars has lost his shine.
What was difficult to see then has now been rewritten with red ink on egg shell white walls. Yes, he has had injuries. Certainly, there are other reasons for his demise, but those reasons do not change the end result. To be clear, Melo was a star, and the darker the sky the brighter the star.
Problem is, the forward has not shined, and it is now obvious he is not the player we ALL thought he was. The Knicks' struggles do not rest squarely on his shoulders, but they do reside on him somewhere, and it should alarm us all.
He is better than what he has displayed, or so we have all hoped. What we witnessed from Melo his rookie season was absolutely magnificent. His 21 points and six rebounds gave the Denver Nuggets life and the city hope. The city of Denver, for the first time since John Elway, had a bona fide superstar.
Gone were the 17-win seasons of dismay and present were 50-win seasons.
In just one season, the Nuggets went from 17 wins to 43 wins and a playoff berth. Within two years, Melo had won a college championship at Syracuse and taken an NBA team to new heights. Life appeared good for the former Orange and championship parades accompanied by MVP trophies seemed imminent.
There were bumps in the road that Melo overcame, and fans gained along the way. A 2008-2009 Western Conference finals appearance gave the forward the national spotlight his game so desperately needed.
From that point forward, the once promising player’s game has rapidly declined. His numbers have remained relatively the same, excluding his spike in three-point attempts (251) last season. However, the player whose game proclaimed greatness so eloquently has abruptly lost his promise, leaving us with nothing more than bittersweet memories.
While his numbers remain the same his game is what has changed. Melo’s and-one percentage has dipped to 44 percent per game, which is the lowest of his career. This is an indication of his new desire to settle for jump shots, rather than put pressure on the defense. Age or wear should not be an excuse here. Kobe Bryant’s and-one percentage is at 71 percent.
In his rookie season, Melo averaged 9.4 shot attempts at the rim, either through penetration or off-the-ball movement. That average has now dipped to a paltry 5.0 shots at the rim.
Again, this is a reflection of the decline in aggression and increased settling on the offensive end. Now, before someone tries to point to age or maturation for his lack of attacks on the rim and transition buckets, ponder this. Dwyane Wade has 6.8 attacks per game.
LeBron James and Rudy Gay both average more attempts on the rim then Melo.
There was a time when, offensively, there was no better small forward or player in the game than Mr. Anthony. Now, he is not even in the conversation. It is tough to argue he is better these days than the
likes of Michael Beasley and Rudy Gay on the offensive side of the court.
You won’t be allowed back in the barbershop if you think he is in the same class of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who are the top small forwards in the game.
What happened to Carmelo, and will he ever regain his form?
Today, numbers-wise Melo could be confused as one of the games stars, but he is a shell of what he used to be. He was once one of the game's brightest stars, but he was more a comet shooting through the night.
A comet shooting through the sky that was so bright and mesmerizing one could not ignore its glow.
Unfortunately, it appears to have vanished into the sky, and all of us who witnessed its beauty and force are saddened because we all believed it was destined to be a star.