Carmelo Anthony or Deron Williams? Who will rise to seize the crown and claim the title “King of New York” in 2012-13?
Gotham’s steel throne lay vacant until February, 2011, when Anthony invaded the Garden, subjugated the city’s interim ruler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and led a mutiny against the team’s strategist, Mike D’Antoni.
But the people have refused to sanctify this transfer of power, awaiting a more valiant show of strength than simply making the postseason and losing in Round 1.
They remember the great kings of times past, Patrick Ewing and Willis Reed (who reigned over long periods of postseason prosperity), and have withheld their full support for the new claimant.
The Knicks were unchallenged across the five boroughs then and most everyone near and far was united in Knicks fandom. It was a time of great peace.
Since Anthony arrived, New York has grown divided into superstar loyalists and those who consider him a pretender. The masses argue over whether a second playoff round is achievable.
And now, an unruly, boastful horde has crossed the Hudson and East Rivers, and they prepare a siege on the Knicks’ age-old borders. Led by D-Will and his loyal band of Nets, they have set up camp in the stark land of Brooklyn, a mere 6.3 miles away (20 minutes as the crow flies), and have "declared an all-out hoops war on Manhattan."
They have set out converting the locals, a vast populace, to their side. The Brooklynites have waited 55 years for a new leader who would return their prestigious name to the great historical annals of American professional sports teams and champions. In Deron Williams they have finally found an athletic acumen worthy of allegiance, a player who could take over the city and steal its crown by one winter’s fall.
Surely, if May or June finds Melo of the Knicks vanquished, and D-Will of the Nets still fighting, King Williams will ascend the urban throne, leaving Anthony to retreat with his tattered corps into another offseason of battle preparation.
But does Deron Williams possess the weaponry to achieve such a coup, to pry Carmelo Anthony from the headlines of NBA sections around the web and the crown from his hands?
As it stands now, the answer is “no,” especially with regard to those parameters mentioned above: acumen and charisma, two things New York City cherishes in a king. Anthony has a head start on both accounts. He’s also on a team long entrenched in city lore. That’s a lot to overcome for Williams.
But statistically, these two players are close. Anthony is slightly the player your gut would rather have. He is an offensive machine who should get his average back up to 25 points, will pour in 30 or more a good 20-25 times a season and is a known game-winner, catapulting plenty of last-second buckets.
Williams is no scoring dwarf, though. His PPG is not far off from Anthony’s, hovering around 20. He too tars opponents with the occasional 30, or 57-point, assault, though not as often. But with Joe Johnson picking up the scoring slack, expect these numbers to dip. New York loves points.
Still, any deficiency on Williams’ scoring end should be made up in running the floor for what is now a more potent offense.
“Ball hog” Anthony is not what he once was either, recording the second-highest assists average of his career last year. While far off Williams’ 8-10 assists a game, Anthony can up his contribution to the more manageable five. Frankly, that’s excellent, and looks doable if you factor in an effective Stoudemire post-up game.
Naturally, Anthony offers his team more chances off the boards, a factor of his position.
But Williams is one of the better defenders in the league at point guard, generally mentioned in the same sentences as Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose. Anthony’s impact on the defensive end is frugal at best.
There is a more ethereal quality Anthony possesses, though, a mystical force that lends him more towards royalty than Williams. I am referring to that word "charisma" here.
Good or bad, Anthony has more of it, and he flexes it. His is the face that New Yorkers can't look away from. His are the frequent quotes that New Yorkers tune into. He is the more locally and nationally known sports figure. All eyes are on Carmelo Anthony.
Deron Williams? Not yet. And not until he and his Nets consistently pace the Knicks head-to-head over the course of the regular season and go deep into the playoffs. One day, he may lead his team and hometown to Gotham's crown and be known by all throughout the land.
Until then, it's Carmelo Anthony's game of thrones to lose.