Breaking Down Carmelo Anthony's Favorite New Sweet Spot

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterDecember 4, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks and P.J. Tucker #17 of the Phoenix Suns jockey for position at Madison Square Garden on December 2, 2012 in New York City. 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. The Knicks defeated the Suns 106-99.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony is scorching to the tune of a .522 effective field-goal percentage (a field-goal mark that incorporates three pointer value). He's also playing a new position, which could lead to new habits.

With Amar'e Stoudemire out with yet another injury, Melo has solidified his role as a power forward. Shifting Anthony from a "three" to a "four" does more than alter Melo's role—It changes the entire Knicks offense.

Now, New York has a "four out" strategy wherein four three-point shooters surround center Tyson Chandler. This makes for a lot more space for every Knicks player.

The shift also fuels New York's Euro-style drive-and-kick game. In this style, one man drives, suctioning the defense towards him, and starting the process of swinging the ball around the horn to an open man. You can see this action on many of New York's 19 threes against Miami:

For Melo, the early results are that he's shooting more from farther away and better from farther away. Take a look at Carmelo's short chart so far: 

You can see that a hefty 46.4 percent of his shots are coming from areas that border the three-point line. This would see to fly in the face of the narrative that playing the "four" is causing Anthony to get to the rim more often. Also, note the comparison between this year's shot distribution chart and last season's:
Last year, 45 percent of Melo's shots were in zones adjacent to the three-point line. The difference is that last year's Anthony shot fewer of those tries behind the three-point line. In 2012-2013, 26.5 percent of Anthony's shots are from three-point land. In 2011-2012, 19.9 percent of his shots were three-pointers.
In theory, shooting from farther away ensures worse efficiency. This hasn't been the case for Carmelo Anthony if you check out his shooting percentages in 2012-2013:
Basic reminder: Green is good when it comes to shot performance. Carmelo Anthony is producing above average results in three out of five long range zones, and below average results in only one of the zones.
In areas adjacent to the three-point border, Carmelo Anthony is above average in six of ten zones and below average in only one.
Curiously, Carmelo Anthony is not shooting well at the rim, despite being on pace for a career-high effective field-goal percentage. Contrast that to his shooting performance chart from 2011-2012: 
You can see that Carmelo Anthony is above average in only two out of ten three-point-line-adjacent zones. You can also see that Anthony shot better at the rim last season than he has so far this season.
It seems intuitive that efficient scorers shoot closer to the rim. In Carmelo Anthony's case, his new efficiency can be chalked up to outside shooting prowess.
Perhaps it's luck, but subjectively, it would appear that New York's spread-offense allows for more drive-and-kick rhythm jumpers.
So far, Melo's long-range shots have been on point this season, especially from the left side of the court. The left side is where a right-handed shooter like Anthony finds it easier to immediately hoist off the catch. On the left side of the floor, your right hand is closer to passes that swing from the right. Perhaps New York's spread offense attack is allowing for easier long-range catch-and-shoot opportunities for Carmelo Anthony this season.