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By letting Jeremy Lin walk and installing Mike Woodson as the team’s head coach for the foreseeable future, the team has made it clear that Carmelo Anthony is the franchise player.
But, the question remains: Can he be the player that leads the team back to glory?
There is no doubt that he can score the ball in spades, but he also has a reputation for putting in a spotty effort in other aspects of the game and not always being a good teammate. With Stoudemire declining, it is even more imperative that Anthony step up the other facets of the game, as his 22.6 points, 6.3 boards and 3.6 assists per game on 43 percent shooting from the 2011-12 season simply will not do.
At his best, Anthony is an electrifying player that can use his strength and size to bully smaller wing players but also has the quickness and handle to attack the basket against clunkier forwards. He has good range on his jump shot and is a threat to heat up in an instant and score from anywhere on the floor.
However, he is also a capable rebounder because of his ability to carve out position and is a better passer than his numbers indicate. Given how much time he spends with the ball in his hands, the 3.6 dimes he averaged per game looks relatively unimpressive.
Anthony also has not won much since he entered the league. He has led Denver and New York to a slew of playoff berths, but has made it out of the first round just once when he took the Nuggets all the way to the conference finals.
Though this Knicks roster has talent outside of the superstar small forward, their roster, which is loaded with shooters, quality defenders and big men, is clearly built to play to Anthony’s strengths by taking some of the pressure off of him on both ends of the court.
At this point, New York has committed to Anthony through 2014 and afterwards will have to face the prospects of rebuilding around somebody else. For now though, Anthony is their clear-cut best player. If they want any shot at winning a championship, he will have to play the best basketball of his career over these next two seasons.