NY Knicks Will Still Live and Die with Carmelo Anthony "Hero Ball"

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NY Knicks Will Still Live and Die with Carmelo Anthony
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Carmelo Anthony is the Knicks' go-to weapon. And it's getting more and more true by the day.

Whether the New York Knicks contend for an NBA Finals appearance or not, Carmelo Anthony and his isolation-style mentality will be the team's most prominent weapon.

That's not a knock on Anthony, it's simply how he's most productive. 'Melo is in the argument for the league's most un-guardable player thanks to impeccable strength, and could be the NBA's most lethal scorer outside of those named Kevin Durant.

He's currently second in points per game to Durant, but Carmelo leads all players in usage rate and percentage of team field goals taken (via NBA.com/Stats).

This type of ball-dominance is what most expected when Mike Woodson's interim tag was removed after the 2012 NBA playoffs, and the coach was signed to a three-year extension. Woodson was the man responsible for the infamous "Iso-Joe" offense that Joe Johnson enjoyed with the Atlanta Hawks from 2005-2010.

Most of that offensive scheme consisted of dumping the ball over to Johnson and letting the star scorer take care of business on his own. So it's no surprise that Anthony, in his first season under Woody, is playing at a career-high USG%.

Anthony's career usage numbers sorted by USG%.

After starting the season with two months of intense ball movement and killer three-point shooting, the Knicks gradually reverted back to Woodson's old preaching habits. The team's shooting from long-range has cooled since a sizzling start—New York shot 39 percent from the arc through its first 37 games, but that number has dipped to 34.56 percent in its last 32.

As a result, we've seen less finding open shooters and more Iso-'Melo. The team is a respectable 19-13 over its most recent 32-game stretch.

Though it's brought success over an extended period of time, it's important for Woodson and the Knicks to be sufficiently well-rounded. Below are Anthony's usage numbers this season, by Knicks team performance.

The stats displayed in the image are sorted by team performances in which Carmelo accounts for the highest percentage of shot attempts. For example, when the Knicks lose by 16-20 points, Anthony takes 40.6 percent of the team's shots—that's his highest such mark. Five of his six highest percentages all come in losses, too.

(The exception, wins by five points or less, is skewed by this game against the lowly Toronto Raptors when Anthony launched 31 shots. To see what these numbers looked like before that performance, click here. Hint: the worst five marks are all losses.)

Highlight's from 'Melo's 31-shot, 27-point performance. Landry Fields was no match for him in isolation.

Five of Anthony's six lowest %FGA numbers come, not surprisingly, in wins. When the Knicks are at their best—winning by 16-20 and 21 or more points—Anthony is responsible for just 31.1 and 32.1 percent of the team's field-goal attempts, respectively. Those are his lowest percentages of this kind.

What these numbers are saying, in plain English, is that when Carmelo is taking more than 34 percent of the Knicks' shots, the Knicks will likely lose. When that number is 34 percent or under, you can put your money on New York coming out on top.

It's also important to note that 'Melo's lowest %FGA number above (the 31.1 percent in wins by 16-20 points) would place Anthony third league-wide if it was his full-season mark. So even when Carmelo is taking a relatively low percentage of the Knicks' shots for him, that ratio is still among the highest of any player. 

 

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What all these numbers say is that Carmelo Anthony is going to handle the ball a ton—there's no getting around it. But if that ton can err towards the side of other league-leaders, instead of territory only 'Melo is familiar with, the Knicks will be in a position to make a postseason run.

It's up to Woodson to make sure that ton doesn't crush New York's chances at a bout with the Miami Heat in May. But as we've all witnessed, if Anthony is feeling it, he could be all the Knicks need to make that push.

Follow me on Twitter at JSDorn6.

All stats gathered from NBA.com/Stats.

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