Is Carmelo Anthony Setting NY Knicks Fans Up for Vindication or Disappointment?

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIINovember 27, 2016

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks tries to get around Jae Crowder #9 of the Dallas Mavericks on November 9, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.The New York Knicks defeated the Dallas Mavericks 104-94. 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 Elsa/Getty Images)
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Are Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks setting fans up for vindication or disappointment?

This is the question that is circulating throughout the NBA, as the 5-0 Knicks are off to their best start since the turn of the millennium. They're leading the league in both points scored and scoring defense, with Anthony leading the NBA at 26.8 points per game.

Such a start has the Knicks as the best team in the standings. We cannot escape the question, however, of whether or not the Knicks are off to a hot start or playing their new breed of basketball.

While some may be inclined to believe that the first four games have been a string of fluke performances, they have not.

The Knicks have a well-designed rotation, a defensive mastermind as a head coach and a legitimate superstar as their leader. Although they've let us down for decades, this team truly is something different.

The only real question is how long it will take the NBA to embrace said truth.


Elite Defense is Nothing New

Say what you will about the New York Knicks' offensive attack, but their greatest strength is on the defensive side of the ball. Despite popular belief that their current average of 87.8 points allowed per game is a fluke, it is not.

They've been playing this well since Mike Woodson took over as head coach in March.

Since Woodson took the helm, the Knicks have played 29 games under the defensive guru. In that time, they've allowed an average of 90.8 points per contest.

Use whatever bias you'd like to create concerns for legitimacy. The fact of the matter is, the Knicks are one of the Top 5 defenses in the NBA and have been that way for an extended period of time.

This is not a fluke. This is a change in identity.


'Melo Being 'Melo

Detractors around the NBA are claiming that Carmelo Anthony cannot maintain this pace of elite level play. Apparently those biased minds are missing out on the fact that 'Melo has a career average of 24.7 points on 45.6 percent shooting from the floor.

That, or they weren't watching the NBA in the six seasons in which he averaged at least 25.2 points per game.

With Anthony establishing his scoring pace early, the only other areas to look are on the glass and on defense. With a career average of 6.3 rebounds per game at small forward, it is not too difficult to imagine his remaining at his current pace of 7.3.

Especially not when you consider the fact that he's moved to the 4.

With his effort now focused on the defensive end of the floor, there is nothing but logic behind the belief that he will continue this statistical output. There is also no reason to believe he cannot lead the Knicks as he presently is, as 'Melo led the Denver Nuggets to at least 50 wins in each of his final three seasons with the team.

He did so in a much tougher Western Conference. Which beckons one final question.

Where will your biases end and belief begin?


The STAT Factor

The number one question for the New York Knicks is simple. What will happen when Amar'e Stoudemire returns from injury?

Since Carmelo Anthony joined the Knicks in February of 2011, the team is 30-32 when both he and Stoudemire are in the lineup. They're also 1-7 in the postseason with both players in the rotation, which offers evidence for concerns about the duo's ability to play with one another.

31-39 in 70 games together certainly doesn't offer reason for optimism.

As of October 31, 2012, Stoudemire has been ruled out for roughly six to eight weeks due to debridement surgery on his left knee (via ESPN New York). This could keep him sidelined until the beginning of 2013.

Regardless of when he comes back, the expectation is for STAT to return.

With this being known, the Knicks have a potential hurdle to overcome. Stoudemire and Anthony have not been winning games together and, at the end of the day, victories are the only numbers that matter.

What may inspire confidence is the fact that, since Woodson took over, the Knicks are 8-2 in regular season games in which 'Melo and Anthony are in the lineup together.

Could coach Woodson have found the formula for success in New York? Until proven otherwise, let's stray on the side of optimism.

The New York Knicks are legitimate title contenders and have been in the process of reaching this plateau for months. As of the 2012-13 regular season, they've simply achieved their goal of reaching elite.