The Most Valuable Player award is given to the athlete that has the most positive impact on his franchise.Carmelo Anthony is making a run at this award, and he has a legitimate chance at winning it.
However, Melo has help everywhere he turns on the court from his New York Knicks teammates.
He's third in the league in scoring with 29.2 points per game, but his Knicks are playing excellent basketball and thrive off of Anthony just as much as Melo thrives off them.
Michael Jordan had his Chicago Bulls teammates, particularly in the 1995-96 season.
Tim Duncan had the San Antonio Spurs in the 2002-03 season to help him.
The role players that fill the New York Knicks roster put the forward in a position to have a valid shot at claiming this year's MVP award.
Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler force opponents to take difficult shots.
Tyson Chandler is an enforcer on the defensive side of things, and as a result, Carmelo Anthony always has the big man protecting his backside.
Already this season, there have been a number of times where Tyson's body slides in the paint to prevent a momentum shift.
Anthony was never known to be a defensive player, but this season he's transformed into an watchful competitor that won't give up on a play, and you can say Tyson Chandler played a part in that.
I'm pretty sure fans remember Carmelo jumping into the stands on several occasions in the beginning of the season. His willingness to be committed to this team's defense has been showcased in situations like this.
For example, Melo is helping protect the basket down low a bit more—granted he's playing the power forward position. However, pairing the "new and improved" Carmelo Anthony down under with the already tenacious Tyson Chandler creates a recipe of havoc.
It also helps that Mike Woodson is known to be a defensive coach. He's preached his ways on Tyson Chandler and the willingness to play has rubbed off on Carmelo.
Knowing that Chandler is there to have his back, Anthony can turn his focus to all players on the court and help with a double team for a turnover.
In a Marc J. Spears' article from November 21, the Yahoo! Sports expert breaks down just why Carmelo's improved defense makes him a threat to other MVP candidates, and in the article, Chandler chimes in with his thoughts.
"He should be at the top of the race right now," Chandler said. "We're playing the best basketball, and he's playing all over the floor on both ends."
If Anthony had not adapted to Woodson's ways, he probably would not be in contention right now for the MVP award. However, because he's playing in ways fans have never seen before, he's garnering a ton of attention; you know the kind of attention you expect from an elite athlete playing in New York City.
Defense is contagious, and Melo caught the bug from Chandler.
Jason Kidd's leadership and experience are second to none; pairing that with an elite athlete like Carmelo Anthony and you're on to something special.
There's a reason Jason Kidd is second all-time in the assists department—he knows how to find the open man. He's totaled up 11,985 dimes over his 18 year career, and a handful of those dishes have come this year on dishes to Carmelo Anthony.
The Knicks forward benefits tremendously from working with such a great point guard, and he knows it.
The 39-year-old point guard is getting the ball to his teammates, and when Anthony is on the receiving end, he's scoring.
When Carmelo returned from a two-day hiatus because of a finger injury last month, he personally thanked Jason Kidd for being just as an integral part of that 112-106 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Nate Taylor of the New York Times had an interesting piece where he tells of just what happened between Anthony and Kidd in that December 9 win. Said Kidd:
He told me, ‘Let’s play through you.' Coach wanted to play through Carmelo, but Carmelo was like, ‘No, I want to play through Jason.’ I think that’s the greatest compliment a teammate can get.
This just shows that Carmelo is trusting the veteran to not only make the right decision that will benefit him, but also a decision that will benefit the team.
However, Kidd is at the stage in his game where he can't play significant minutes, and he's better suited coming off the bench in fewer minutes.
Nonetheless, Kidd is a special player, and he's helping Carmelo with this special MVP run.
When Raymond Felton joined the Knicks back in 2010, he had great success with Amar'e Stoudemire. Now that success has transferred over to a duo of he and Carmelo Anthony.
Raymond Felton is a great distributor, and his priority is finding touches for Carmelo Anthony.
He can run the floor more effectively than the older point guards on the Knicks roster, and his return is crucial to New York's future success.
Without Raymond, the Knicks' offense has been rather stagnant. In fact, since Felton's injury, the Knicks have failed to score 100 points on five occasions, including a 81-76 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
In the month of January, Carmelo is attempting 26 shots a game, and for the most part, he's trying to create his own. Although he is scoring about 31 points per contest in the eight games this month, he's a point shy of last month's average with Felton feeding him the rock.
Jason Kidd is a great point guard, but at 39 years old, he's limited in what he can do as a starter. Pablo Prigioni is also an okay playmaker, but his turnovers have limited just how effective he can be with a player like Carmelo Anthony. Neither can run that penetrate-and-kick offense that Felton brings to the table, and that's what allows him to make Anthony a better player.
Because of Felton's ability to penetrate the defense, he finds Carmelo Anthony open a lot when a big shifts over to defend him. With Melo scoring playing at a high level, his candidacy becomes even more legitimate.
J.R. Smith is contributing to Carmelo's MVP campaign as much as anybody by relieving some scoring pressure of No. 7.
J.R. Smith is having an excellent year, and as good as it looks for the shooting guard, it looks even better for Carmelo Anthony and his run toward being named MVP.
When Smith started the season, everyone took notice of how he was playing defense. You can probably attribute that to Carmelo Anthony.
In the same Spears' article mentioned earlier, Marcus Camby says that it's hard not to play defense when you see Carmelo out there playing the way he is.
"When you see a guy like 'Melo going out there playing defense there is no excuse for everyone else to not follow suit," Camby said.
I can't argue with Camby on this one, especially when you take into consideration that both players were never known for a defensive prowess.
Add to the fact that J.R. Smith is scoring at will, and you've got proof on how Smith is helping Anthony's MVP run—Carmelo is taking J.R. under his wing and forming a dynamic duo.
Smith is shooting 41 percent from the field, averaging 16.7 points per game—not bad for someone coming off the bench.
With all eyes on Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks' forward is able to kick the ball out to Smith where he can connect from three-point land or something like an 18-foot chip shot.
Anthony is being well-defended and since he's developed into a team player, he's looking for the open man—Smith—rather than attempting to outperform the defense.
This didn't just happen over night though. Keep in mind that the two were together for four-and-a-half years in Denver as members of the Nuggets.
Voters of the MVP award will not only pay attention to Melo's stats—which for the most part are career highs—but also what he's doing for his team.
J.R. Smith has developed into an improved athlete on both offense and defense, and it's implied that Carmelo Anthony had a major role in Smith doing so.
When Steve Novak can connect from three-point land, he allows Melo to take a breather, and coach doesn't need to worry about putting points on the board.
Steve Novak has gone on record to say that Carmelo Anthony is playing the best basketball in his career, and he's the best player in the league right now.
I think the way Carmelo’s been playing (pause), I mean he’s the best player in the league right now
Steve is posting a 45 percent three-point field goal percentage during 2012-13. I know you're saying to yourself, "but he's doing horrible in comparison to last season."
You're right, but it's only a two percent difference. You're just paying attention a lot more to his misses now than you did a season ago.
For the most part, when Carmelo Anthony kicks out the ball to Novak, he'll connect on the three-ball. If he's being guarded closely, Anthony will look for the best play possible, and a lot of times it will be Novak open in his favorite corner.
Unfortunately, there are times when Novak is not on his game, and that helps Melo's campaign for MVP just as well as if Novak was hitting his shots.
If Novak isn't hitting his shots, Melo goes from the "disher" to the "swisher."
He'll grab the reins and score like an elite athlete with superior talent is suppose to.
So at the end of the day, Novak on a good day helps Melo just as much as Novak on a bad day...so long as Melo's having a good day.