Carmelo Anthony's Late-Season Surge Should Propel Him into MVP Race

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IApril 18, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

No player in the NBA is playing better basketball at the moment than New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.

He certainly had his share of early season struggles, but his play as of late has been excellent and should propel him into the conversation for MVP. Anthony won’t win the award, but he’s done enough to get himself into the debate.

There are a couple of issues working against him in the race for the award, which includes the fact that the MVP title is awarded for performance over an entire season. Anthony has only picked up his play in recent weeks.

That being said, even MVP favorite LeBron James has had his share of struggles throughout the season—most notably during the seven-game stretch at the end of March in which he only averaged 19.0 points per game and shot under 45 percent.

The difference is that Anthony’s struggles lasted for the entire first half of the season. Nevertheless, he’s found a way to pick up his game and has averaged a whopping 32.1 points per game in April.

Anthony has carried the Knicks, similar to the way in which LeBron has carried the Heat at times. That should be enough to get him into the conversation.

The Heat are likely a playoff team without LeBron and the Oklahoma City Thunder are likely a playoff team without Kevin Durant. However, the Knicks would be a lottery team without the services of Anthony.

In addition, based on numbers, the 22.4 PPG and 6.7 RPG that Anthony has put up gets him into the conversation with James and Durant.

The main thing that hurts Anthony's chances is the Knicks' 32-29 record. Had he got on his roll sooner in the season and led the Knicks to a top-four seed in the East, he realistically could be getting some legitimate MVP love right now.

The MVP is meant to get things done when it matters, and no player in the NBA has stepped things up in the clutch like Anthony has. His temporary move to the 4 has sparked not only Melo, but the Knicks team as well. Add to that his sudden unselfish play and willingness to commit on the defensive end of the floor, and everything about Anthony’s game right now says MVP.

At the minimum, Melo should be in the race.

Had he played like this during the first half of the season instead of waiting until he got Mike D’Antoni fired, we may be talking about a runaway winner.

Make no mistake, right now, there’s no better player in the NBA. While he won’t win the award, Anthony at least deserves a look.

After his first-half struggles, getting his name in the conversation speaks volumes about the type of roll Anthony is on right now.