Carmelo Anthony Has What It Takes to Lead New York Knicks to a Championship

Ciaran GowanContributor IIIApril 9, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks in action against the Los Angeles Clippers during their game at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 2013 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.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony is one of the NBA's most criticised players, but the New York Knicks star has proven to us that he's right up there with the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

His Knicks are riding a 12-game win streak, and with each victory are looking more and more like a serious contender for the title.

Over the course of the streak, Melo has averaged 32.7 points and 8.3 rebounds, and has done it on 50 percent shooting. He's always been a fantastic offensive player, but has looked absolutely unstoppable over the past month.

It's not even like Melo is going up against easy opponents. He put up 50 on Shane Battier, 40 on Josh Smith and 36 on Serge Ibaka, all of whom are considered to be some of the best defenders the NBA has to offer.

This isn't the first time Anthony has had a dominant scoring stretch, but the difference this time is that he's doing it in a way that could take his team all the way to the promised land.

It isn't just about scoring anymore. His play hasn't disrupted the offense in any way, and he's also stepped up on the defensive end and on the boards.

More impressive, however, has been the way Anthony has deferred to teammates. Clearly, he trusts the guys around him, which has led to smooth ball movement and made it tough for opposing defenses to bring the double-team.

He doesn't get many assists—he's averaging only 1.6 over this stretch—but he does get 'hockey assists' and his presence alone is sufficient to create space for his teammates.

Melo told us before this season that his time was coming (via ESPN) and he may just be right. He's playing the best basketball of his career, and with a talented team around him, the Knicks have the potential to go all the way.

There are still doubts about Melo, though. Most critics cite his playoff history as a reason not to buy in to what he's done this season, and there's certainly solid grounding to that argument.

Anthony has only gotten out of the first round once in his 10-year career, and has just one playoff win to his name in New York.

With that said, we've got to understand that the Melo we are seeing this season is unlike any we ever saw during his time in Denver. 

More to the point, he's playing with a much better team than he's ever had, and frankly the East is much weaker now than the West was when Anthony was with the Nuggets.

People are also quick to forget that Anthony actually does have a history of winning. He led Syracuse to their only NCAA championship in 2003, and earned gold medals at the last two Olympics.

By the looks of it, this is a guy who is committed to adding the ultimate prize to his trophy cabinet. He puts his body on the line night in and night out, and as we saw with his nine offensive rebounds against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the effort is definitely there.

Even Bernard King—one of the latest additions to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the player Anthony idolized growing up—has high praise for Melo. Here's what he had to say to the New York Post:

Melo is playing the best basketball of any player in the NBA. He’s the best scorer in the league. He’s playing phenomenally. There’s nothing you’re going to do defensively that’s going to stop him. He can handle, shoot, pass, rebound, penetrate. He can put the ball on the floor and handle the ball in transition. He can post up down low. He’s very difficult to prepare for.

We're seeing Carmelo Anthony and his Knicks develop into true title contenders before our eyes. This is a team that must be taken seriously, and they are led by a player who can now truly be considered one of the NBA's elite.