5 Biggest Differences We See in NY Knicks' Carmelo Anthony This Season
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has undergone a basketball renaissance in his 10th NBA season. No longer is 'Melo depicted as the self-oriented chucker he was just six months ago. Nowadays, Anthony is revered in the Big Apple and viewed as the centerpiece of a championship-contending Knicks squad.
His transformation is due to a handful of key tweaks made in just one offseason's time. Carmelo has largely been looked at as one of the league's stars who was always a step behind the LeBron Jameses and Kevin Durants of the world. Now, Anthony is receiving the superstar treatment while playing under the NBA's brightest lights.
His new-found dominance has led the Knicks to a 23-12 record, good for second place in the Eastern Conference. 'Melo is finally in the place he's always dreamed of: title contention.
All stats used are accurate as of Jan. 11.
If we had to pin-point a sole reason for Carmelo Anthony's resurgence as a superstar, it could be his stroke from beyond the arc.
Before this season, his previous career high in three-point field-goal percentage was .378 in 2010-11. This year, 'Melo has shattered that mark, drilling threes at a .428 clip—good for 11th league wide.
Over 30 percent of his attempts in 2012-13 have come from downtown, a number that's skyrocketed from last season when less than 20 percent of his shots were threes. He's already sank more three-pointers this year (77-of-162) in 28 games, than he did all of last season (68-of-179) in 55 games.
Anthony is shooting 44.6 percent on spot-up threes, according to Synergy.
We all saw how valuable Steve Novak was for New York last season, but 'Melo is knocking down threes at a Novakian rate in the current campaign while adding worlds more on both ends of the floor.
It's fairly simple—this Carmelo Anthony plays nothing like the Knick we saw on the MSG court last season.
The metrics may not speak to this, but Carmelo Anthony has given an outstanding defensive effort under Mike Woodson. On both ends of the floor, Anthony has given every ounce of effort he has in him, and it's showed in the Knicks' record.
We've seen 'Melo sacrifice his body on a number of occasions. There was his block of Nick Young against the Philadelphia 76ers, followed by a leap into the MSG seats:
He made a similar play against the Charlotte Bobcats, which actually cost him a game with a hand injury, found at the 1:40 mark here:
'Melo brought the Garden crowd to its feet with another play of the gritty variety against the Phoenix Suns:
Lock-Down Post Defense
Playing most of his minutes at the power forward position this season, Carmelo Anthony has been forced to D-up in the low post against larger opponents this year. Luckily for the Knicks, he's come through big time.
According to Synergy, Anthony is allowing only 0.62 points per play on post-ups. Coming against significantly larger players such as Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol and skilled 4s, this defensive effort is especially convincing.
Considering Anthony's reputation as a lazy defender, his locking down comes as somewhat of a surprise, even to Knicks fans.
Surprise or not, his efforts are extremely welcomed by the Knicks, who are weak on the whole as defenders. Their D-rating of 106.5 ranks 10th worst in the league.
Trust in Teammates
Last summer in London, Carmelo Anthony took on a role he would never fathom of settling for in the NBA: sixth man. Surrounded by the biggest basketball names in the world, 'Melo was forced to humbly take a back seat, and it changed him as a basketball player.
Anthony enjoyed possibly the best success of his career overseas, as he was USA's best scoring option at various points. He tallied an Olympics-record 37 points against Nigeria—in 14 minutes.
According to ESPN New York, Anthony's Olympic experience changed him for the better. "I think at the end of the day for all of us, if we can trust one another out there on the basketball court it will make things a lot easier," he said. "And being with the guys that were on that team this summer, it really put that in perspective."
For much of last season, Anthony played as if he knew the team's success was solely in his hands, which may have been true, but a season of hero-ball is never healthy for a team.
Post-London, 'Melo demonstrates leadership by example and outright trust in those around him. This "team-first" Carmelo is a player that could lead a team to an NBA title. All it took was a little maturation and a few months with the best in the world.
"It's easy when you have 12 of the best guys in the world on one team but that same mindset (should translate to New York)," he said. "To incorporate that now, to my own team, it makes things a lot easier for myself."
After a quarter-season of dominance, we can now, with confidence, declare Carmelo Anthony as the most dangerous mid-range threat in the NBA.
The lost art has always been paramount in Carmelo's game, but never has it been this effective. According to NBA.com Advanced Stats, 'Melo is nailing shots at a 47 percent clip from mid-range, up from his 39 percent mark from a season ago.
Anthony's position change has played a factor in his mid-range revival, and his arsenal of spins and other isolation moves help free him from defenders in order to fire away clean looks.
According to HoopData, 'Melo is shooting 53 percent on shots 10-15 feet from the hoop and 46 percent on shots from 16-23 feet out—both career highs.
To sum it up plainly, Carmelo is making more shots than ever before. For a star that had some room for improvement after last year's disappointment, that isn't a bad place to start.
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