7 Offensive Adjustments Carmelo Anthony Must Make for NY Knicks to Succeed
Anyone who's watched him play hoops knows he's extremely gifted and versatile with the ball, and he's already doing a lot of things fantastically.
But there are some improvements he must make in his off-ball movement and shot selection if New York wants to earnestly challenge the elite NBA franchises.
If he actually makes these adjustments, Madison Square Garden will be seeing basketball later in May and possibly into June.
Catch and Drive
All too often, the Knicks' offense stalls when it gets to Carmelo Anthony because he spends time sizing up his opponent and trying to find the perfect angle. There are some games when he settles for jumpers too frequently.
When he gets the ball on the wing, he needs to drive sooner and more decisively. STATS, LLC reports that Melo shot better than 60 percent on drives from the perimeter to the hoop last season.
I'm not saying he should dash to the hoop recklessly every time he gets the ball, but he should avoid the slow-down isolations that hamper the team's rhythm. One jab step and drive will set up the defensive overplay on the next possession.
He's already great at drawing fouls, and swift drives will only increase that success and put pressure on the defense. Holding the ball for too long gives the defense extra time to set up its help side.
Curl Cuts Do Wonders
Anthony isn't terrible at moving without the ball, but there's room for improvement.
Working off the ball will help him, his teammates and the entire offense. New York needs to set up more curl screens for him, and it's up to him to utilize them.
Curls from the wing or elbow toward the hoop are tough to defend. When executed properly, the curler comes sharply off the screen, ready to receive the pass. The screener then turns toward the passer, and is open if his man overcommits to help guard the curler.
If the defense is too focused on Anthony and the curler, a sharpshooter like J.R. Smith or Steve Novak should be wide open.
The curl cuts will deliver one of the following: (A) a high percentage look for Melo going toward the tin, (B) an open elbow jumper for a screener like Amar'e Stoudemire or (C) an open shot for a spot-up shooter.
Flash to the Elbow and Go to Work
As one of the deadliest scorers in the NBA, Anthony is effective from anywhere on the court when he wants to be.
But one area (besides the post) where he thrives better than most is the elbow and the high post, and New York must employ this spot more consistently.
From the elbow, a jump shot is a toss in the fountain for him, and he's also one dribble away from a layup. It's also a spot where he can draw up to three defenders and dish it out to his comrades.
A 2011-12 Sports Illustrated statistics analysis revealed that Anthony shot 62 percent after getting the ball at the elbow. Bottom line: Make sure he gets at least 4-5 touches per quarter there.
Pass from the Post
Anthony is an excellent post-up player when he gets favorable matchups, but there's one aspect of his post game that needs improvement.
He needs to survey the floor a little more and trust his teammates.
Sure, when he's one-on-one or in a position to draw a foul, he should attack the hoop himself. But when things aren't going so well and he's double-teamed, passing out will be easier if he's surveyed the floor.
Melo's passing skills aren't bad. They're just inconsistent and untapped potential.
Vary the Pick-and-Roll Roles
In pick-and-roll situations, Carmelo is often the ball-handler and the playmaker, as he should be. But he should mix in being the screener and also vary who he works with.
I'm sure Mike Woodson is brewing up some pick-and-roll adjustments for Anthony, and here are some great options to choose from:
- Ray Felton (dribbler) and Melo (screener)
- J.R. Smith (dribbler) and Melo (screener)
- Jason Kidd (dribbler) and Melo (screener)
- Melo (dribbler) and Stoudemire (screener)
- Melo (dribbler) and Chandler (screener)
- Melo (dribbler) and Steve Novak (screener)
Also, when Iman Shumpert returns from injury, he should be paired with Anthony as well. This mixture will keep defenses scrambling and disallow defensive comfort.
Arrive at Camp in Tip-Top Shape
This is more of an all-around adjustment Anthony must make, but it's one that will directly affect his offensive aptitude in the half-court and fast-break settings: He must get into better shape.
Mike Woodson was comfortable with calling out Anthony, as he told the New York Daily News that he needs to push him to be in better form.
Carmelo may not have the physical potential of LeBron James, but there's a different gear he could reach in both endurance and explosiveness.
Given his footwork, ball-handling skills and shooting touch, Anthony would be nearly unstoppable if he was more physically dominant. Fast breaks, jump shots and drives alike would be more fun for the Knickerbockers.
Utilize the Catch-and-Shoot Jumper
ESPN's Ryan Feldman offers stats (see below) that show Anthony has improved drastically on catch-and-shoot outside jumpers in 2011-12. He's clearly putting in the work.
But his three-point percentage was still an unimpressive 34 percent, and his total field goal percentage was 43 percent..
The adjustment he needs to make? Improve the ratio of catch-and-shoot jumpers to off-the-dribble and his overall percentage will go up. This is closely tied into him working to get open.
On guarded catch-and-shoot jumpers, Melo had a field-goal percentage of 47.1 with an effective field-goal percentage of 61.4. That's way up from 29.1 and 37.2 two years ago. If his shot selection improves, his production will rise and the Knicks' efficiency will increase.
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