He is also a tragic example of what happens when a team relies so heavily on a one-dimensional superstar.
When Anthony is on his game, it’s the basketball equivalent of poetry in motion. The one-dribble pull-up pop. The feathery touch from three. The exquisite body control of his 230-pound frame around the basket.
He is the most unstoppable force the NBA has to offer.
Unfortunately for the New York Knicks, when poetry in motion becomes a reckless disregard for the rim, there isn’t enough substance to forgive his propensity for clanking.
His defense can be described as inconsistent at best. Passing is little more than a last resort. Rebounding becomes his personal version of hot potato.
The sad truth is that Anthony is just as likely to shoot you out of a game as he is to winning it for you.
Now, it’s hard to be too difficult on Anthony after his brilliant performance in the Knicks’ 106-99 Game 5 series-clinching loss Saturday night. Thirty-nine points on 15-of-29 shooting is nothing to sneeze at.
Still, his play throughout the rest of the playoffs was difficult to watch. Though he did average an impressive 28.8 points per game during his series versus the Indiana Pacers, three games of less than 43 percent from the field is hard to ignore—his 38 percent showing against the Celtics in a victory was even more mind-numbing.
Especially when he contributed little more to the Knicks’ cause.
Anthony is not LeBron James. We’ve known that for a long time. Although he is indeed a more gifted scorer, the all-around game that James possesses is the difference between James advancing to the conference finals and Anthony going home.
James has always found a way to positively affect his team even when his shot isn’t falling. Anthony’s 1.4 assists per game average against the Pacers suggests the opposite. Anthony's 24.4 shots per game is a very large number. It seems even bigger when only 11 of them fall.
At this point, it doesn’t matter what roster moves the Knicks make next season. The only thing that can propel this franchise to true contender status is a concerted effort by Anthony to further evolve his game.
Frustration should not be the inherent emotion when watching Anthony. He’s just too skilled. Yet oftentimes it’s the only one that makes sense.
Anthony was surrounded this year by the type of teammates that should complement his abilities perfectly. For a player that commands as many double teams as Anthony, three-point shooters who can make the opposition pay should have been his ultimate weapon.
Instead, too often he chose to ignore those weapons and relied solely on his vast offensive skill set. Even when that skill set wasn’t clicking.
Anthony has the game to reach champion status. However, he will never achieve that if he doesn’t change his mindset.
Yes, a gunner has to gun. But he doesn’t always have to gun on his own. A combination of ‘Melo’s elite skills with some added trust in his teammates is undoubtedly a recipe for success.
Only time will tell, however, if that type of trust can ever be forged with a scorer so reliant upon himself as Anthony.