Through the first nine games of the 2012-13 NBA regular season, Carmelo Anthony is averaging 24.2 points per game. The five-time All-Star has topped 25 points in six of his nine outings, thus leading the New York Knicks to an NBA-best record of 8-1.
We can talk about 'Melo's brilliance all we want. The true question is, how does an opposing team successfully defend Anthony?
Biases aside, there is a fact that we must acknowledge. When 'Melo is on his game, you're out of luck.
The nine-year veteran has established himself as one of the greatest offensive players of his generation. In turn, he has become a virtually unstoppable force on said end of the floor.
With that being said, it is imperative that one understands that no one could actually be unstoppable. Not even 'Melo.
In order to contain Anthony from an offensive perspective, one must understand his tendencies. From where he looks to shoot, to what his preferred approach to the offensive floor has become, 'Melo has his tendencies.
Pinpoint what those are and you've won half the battle. Fortunately for those looking to slow 'Melo down, the blueprint for said success can be found here.
Predictable in the Post
Contrary to popular belief about Anthony's low-post versatility, 'Melo has been a virtual one-trick pony this season. Feldman reports that Anthony has backed down his defender on 55.2 percent of his post-up plays, which has led to lackluster results.
40.0 percent shooting, to be precise.
Feldman proceeds with his barrage of statistics by stating that 'Melo has passed the ball out of the post on 75 percent of the players in which opponents have brought a double-team. Never once has he made a pass to a cutter out of the post.
In other words, 'Melo's thought to be elite back-down game can be stopped by a mere double-team. Which brings us to the face-up.
Duel Option Face-Up
Truth be told, there are very few ways in which a defender can stop Anthony when he's in a rhythm. In fact, Anthony is as close to unstoppable as the NBA has to offer when his shot is falling and a rhythm has been developed.
Which is exactly why it is imperative to understand his face-up tendencies out of the post.
Thus far this season, 'Melo is going with a face-up drive to the basket out of the post on 17.2 percent of plays. He's going with a face-up one-dribble pull-up jump shot on 17.2 percent of plays, as well.
That's 89.6 percent of his moves accounted for out of the post, for those keeping track of his back-to-the-basket tendencies.
In order to defend 'Melo's face-up game, it is imperative that you bring a help-side defender. 'Melo is shooting 62.5 percent on face-up drives when there is no help defender present.
As for his one-dribble jump shot, a defender must be able to press as a hard double-team comes from the weak side. This prepares a team for 'Melo's signature move, which sees him start his move towards the baseline before cutting back with a spin move to the opposite side.
Which breeds the latest form of defense.
Force 'Melo Baseline
Feldman did an outstanding job of breaking down the ways Anthony has attempted to score out of the post. What we must not ignore, however, are 'Melo's tendencies in how he attacks the basket when not in the post.
As we do, you'll learn why teams must force Anthony to the baseline.
What Anthony thrives in doing is working towards the baseline and then spinning opposite to work his way into the paint. Upon reaching the area, Anthony is as dominant as any at finishing in traffic as he goes off glass or touches it for two.
If you take him lightly, he may even rise up and throw one down for the highlight reel.
This is not to say that 'Melo is incapable of scoring when forced to the baseline, as he's lethal from any area of the floor. All this acknowledges is how much easier it is for a big to close out on the five-time All-Star when forced to that area.
It's unlikely that you'll be able to slow down Anthony, regardless of what you do. If you'd like to stand a chance, however, your best bet is to set yourself up for duel-pressure situations.
If you opt to go against this advice, you'll learn just how dominant Carmelo Anthony can be.