The calendar year of 2012 has been none too kind to the superstars of the NBA. The likes of Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Dirk Nowitzki have all fallen victim to injuries or surgery.
Although the ailments have strayed away from New York City early, New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire has become the exception to the rule.
According to Howard Beck of The New York Times, Stoudemire is set to miss up to two months of action due to "left knee debridement." This will mark the second time in as many seasons that STAT could miss upwards of 15 regular season games.
Knicks just announced that Amare Stoudemire needs "left knee debridement" and is out approx. 6-8 weeks.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) October 30, 2012
Although this leaves the Knicks without one of their greatest talents, it also opens the door for another superstar to shine. That player, of course, is hybrid forward Carmelo Anthony.
Despite the shortcomings of STAT and 'Melo as a tandem, each member of the duo has thrived while leading the Knicks on his own. With Anthony the next in line to take charge of the franchise, it's time we pay attention to what could be a turning of the tides in New York.
It could also be the year that Carmelo Anthony takes home his first career league MVP award.
Knicks Go Small, 'Melo Plays Big
The New York Knicks have adopted the same "go small" system that teams such as the Miami Heat have utilized to perfection. With this shift to an undersized rotation, Carmelo Anthony finds himself at power forward rather than his usual spot at the 3.
As his individual performances have shown us, said change has done nothing but enable Anthony to thrive in a new role. As 2013 rolls around, expect more of the same.
Over the final month of the season, Anthony was played primarily at the power forward position. During that time, 'Melo averaged 29.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
He also posted a stellar slash line of .495/.460/.813, as opportunities to score close to the basket produced greater efficiency. Considering 'Melo is also an elite shooter, his ability to light up a scoreboard became an even greater weapon for a surging Knicks team.
Beyond the statistics, Anthony led New York to an 18-6 record in the final 24 games of the season. The question is, can head coach Mike Woodson avoid returning to his isolation tendencies?
If so, expect Anthony to score at a high and efficient rate.
Arguably the largest hurdle for the Knicks to overcome is the incompatible chemistry between 'Melo and Amar'e Stoudemire. Although the two are extraordinary on their own and have the potential to reach that level together, we must study history.
When Stoudemire is sidelined, 'Melo plays better. When Anthony is out, the same can be said for STAT.
Due to the fact that Amar'e is now sidelined via injury, Anthony can build up a solid enough stat line that MVP talks will begin to build. Two months of elite play could mask any temporary struggles the duo faces upon STAT's return.
As long as Stoudemire is out, Anthony will be the main source of offense and the face of a winning franchise. With that reputation established, expect the embattled star to temporarily overcome the detractors as he rises up to lead the Knickerbockers.
Major Market Winner = MVP Candidate
If 'Melo were to lead your average NBA franchise to success, it'd be unlikely that he could emerge as an MVP candidate. Should Anthony lead the New York Knicks to success, however, he'd become a leader for Most Valuable Player in a heartbeat.
As is life when you lead a franchise that is based out of a major market. When that market is New York City, the praise will grow just as quickly as the New York media will dethrone you.
Whether or not Carmelo is the best player in the NBA is another debate entirely. With the high-profile nature of the Knicks' franchise, however, being the best player on a successful New York team is more than enough to garner some votes.
'Melo re-discovering his 30 point per game form certainly wouldn't hurt, either. In fact, it becomes the perfect launching pad for what we will be shocked to say come year's end.
Carmelo Anthony is an MVP candidate.
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