Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Carmelo Anthony is finally putting together a complete game.
I wrote in mid-October that Carmelo Anthony's best chance to deliver on Big Apple expectations was to be more like Dirk Nowitzki.
To play like Nowitizki did in the Dallas Mavericks' 2011 championship season means that Anthony needs to play with more intensity, play bigger inside and rebound, and understand the greater role of defense.
So far, so good.
Anthony is delivering more than ever in a New York Knicks uniform and is outplaying the entire league, earning early notice as a potential Most Valuable Player. As a result, the Knicks' 8-1 record is the best in the NBA.
For once, it's more than just his scoring. Aside from Anthony's 24.2 points per game, the superstar is averaging a career-high 7.4 rebounds and is, you are reading this right, playing inspired defense.
Maybe it's the direction of Knicks coach Mike Woodson, or maybe Anthony just doesn't want to be the only New York defender not responding to the barking of Tyson Chandler. Either way, it's a different Anthony on defense.
Now, he is still taking more shot attempts per 48 minutes than any other player in the game, and his shooting percentage is mediocre relative to his career. But he has a fresh approach to his overall game.
The great Marc Spears quoted Spike Lee (who better?) regarding the improved play of Anthony. Lee had this to say:
Carmelo is just playing a complete game. Now for whatever reason that is, I don't want to get into it. I don't know. But there is a distinct difference in what he is doing now and when he first put on a Knick uniform.
Anthony, quoted in the same article, said he always had the ability to play defense, but he never decided to just go out and do it, and now he has a coach and system that stays on him about it.
So far, Anthony has played like Nowitzki did in 2011 plus defense, and it's paying off with winning results.
LeBron James may always be the league's default MVP, but Anthony is challenging right now.
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