Counting the Ways Carmelo Anthony Can Score on You
Carmelo Anthony is a virtually unstoppable scorer because he can put the ball in the basket so many different ways. The Knicks' forward possesses a lightning-quick first step, deadly jump shot and a finely tuned post game built on both power and finesse.
Anthony was the target of endless criticism from the media and fans last season for his reliance on isolation basketball. And, though he has quieted his critics this season by leading the Knicks to a 31-15 record, Anthony is still feasting on a heavy dose of isolations. According to mysnynergysports.com, 29.3 percent of his offensive plays are isolation sets (as seen in the chart below.)
The difference between the two seasons is that Carmelo is now beginning his moves quickly, instead of bogging down the offense by holding onto the basketball. If a driving lane or open shot is available he takes it. If not, he keeps the ball moving, instead of pounding it into the ground.
The Knicks typically feature Anthony in isolations on the right wing, left elbow or top of the key. He faces up, then plans his attack based upon how his individual defender and the defense as a whole is playing him.
Since Coach Woodson has played Anthony primarily at the 4 spot this season, Melo usually has a quickness advantage over his opponent. When he has a bigger player on him or the defender crowds him, Carmelo takes his man off the dribble.
If the help defense does not rotate over in time, he will go all the way to the basket. In the video below, Melo makes a quick move from the left elbow to beat Josh Smith and get to the rim for the winning bucket against the Atlanta Hawks on January 27.
Anthony's quick first step puts defenders back on their heels, which often allows No. 7 to step into an uncontested jump shot. Sometimes, he relies on his slick ball-handling and fancy footwork to freeze the defender and create space for a jumper. Here he is crossing over Shane Battier of the Miami Heat in the playoffs last season.
As if that were not enough to keep defenders off balance, Anthony is adept at shooting off the dribble. If he does not have a clear path to the rim, he can rise up mid-drive, square his body and knock down a 12-15 footer. Here he is taking one dribble to his left, before connecting over Von Wafer of the Orlando Magic last season.
Anthony also poses a matchup nightmare in the post. He is deceptively strong and can overpower smaller players down low, though also capable of using his agility to finish around the basket. According to mysynergysports.com, 17.4 percent of Melo's offensive plays are post-ups, and his .97 points per possession on such plays ranks 10th in the NBA.
He prefers to begin his moves on the right block, where he can turn away from the help defense, towards his strong hand. Here he is executing his favorite move, the baseline turnaround, over the smaller Arron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic earlier this season.
Another go-to move for Melo in the post is the dribble step-back. Sometimes he leans into the defender with his right shoulder to create a little extra separation. He executed the play successfully last season against one of the elite on-ball defenders in the league, Andre Iguodala.
From the left block, Anthony likes to face up, take one or two dribbles to his left, then pull up for a short jumper in the lane. That sets up his most devastating move, in which he begins left, then quickly spins back right, something he worked on with Hakeem Olajuwon prior to the season.
Sometimes he switches it up and starts out going towards the baseline only to spin back middle. Here he is abusing Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young, to the delight of the Madison Square Garden crowd.
The most improved part of Anthony's game over the past few seasons has been his three-point shooting. According to basketball-reference.com, Carmelo is a career 33.4 percent shooter from behind the arc with a previous career high 37.8 percent. This year, Anthony is shooting 41.2 percent from downtown and has already made more threes (106) in 39 games than over the course of any prior full season.
The forward is able to get good looks from downtown off the dribble because opponents have to respect his driving ability. When he is really feeling it, he likes to catch his defender by surprise by casually dribbling into a three-pointer, sometimes several feet behind the arc.
However, Anthony is most effective from on long twos and three-pointers as a spot up shooter. On January 27, he tied a Knicks franchise record by nailing nine threes against the Atlanta Hawks. As you will see in the video below, all but one of them came on spot up looks.
Anthony's most efficient offensive set is as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, though he tends to shy away from the play, often waving off big men who come to set a screen for him. According to mysynergysports.com, Anthony uses the play on 10.5 percent of his possessions and his .96 points per possession ranks eighth in the league.
The remainder of Anthony's points come in transition—where he is particularly lethal on catch-and-shoot three-pointers—put-backs—where he excels at getting off the floor in a hurry to grab rebounds off his own missed shots—and timely cuts to the basketball.
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