In the aftermath of their depressing loss to the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks fans have to face the hard truth—as long as Carmelo Anthony is their best player, they are not going to win an NBA championship.
Keep in mind that we’re not talking about whether Anthony may or may not win a championship with the Knicks. It’s about whether a championship team can be built around him in New York.
If LeBron James decides to join the Knicks when he becomes a free agent and they somehow choose to retain Anthony, then by all means the title is his. However, if Anthony is supposed to be the go-to-guy, I am less optimistic.
In some aspects, this isn’t as much a criticism of Anthony as it is of the Knicks organization. Melo is a formidable player, there is simply no doubt about it. However, for the next couple of years, I don’t see the Knicks going anywhere because of their salary cap situation as well as their competition.
Anthony can’t take the Heat
As long as the Miami Heat remain dominant, Melo will have to watch the NBA Finals from the sidelines. In fact, you can make the argument that James will keep Melo out of the Finals for the rest of Anthony’s career.
Of course, this would mean that Anthony actually gets to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, which is not a guarantee.
The Knicks lost to the Pacers this year and they’re not going away. The Chicago Bulls gave the Knicks a run for their money during the regular season and their physical style of play would likely cause trouble for the Knicks. Then there’s the Heat and all the great teams in the NBA West.
If the Knicks are to win with Anthony, they need to solidify their roster.
The Knicks are in salary cap hell
Anthony turns 29 in a few days. It’s clear that his time is running out. While he is still in his prime, it unfortunately looks like the Knicks might waste it for the next couple of years.
The Knicks already have a payroll of $78 million and they’re spending $21 million on Amar’e Stoudemire. Melo and Amar’e are like oil and water when it comes to playing together and the latter’s huge salary is preventing the Knicks from adding pieces that would make the Knicks a championship contender.
It doesn’t exactly help that the current Knicks team is the oldest in NBA history and extremely prone to injuries.
Carmelo is simply not as good as the Knicks want him to be
So far, I’ve blamed a lot of Anthony’s shortcomings on external circumstances such as the fierce competition and the salary cap, but it has to be said that Melo might not have the championship pedigree that LeBron or other elite players have.
While Melo is certainly an elite scorer, he’s not very efficient. Take a look at the true shooting percentages for the five players with the highest PPG in this year’s playoffs. Anthony has, by far, the worst true shooting percentage.
As much as Knicks fans want it to be true, Anthony is not a star of the same caliber as Kevin Durant and James. Anthony had one of his best statistical seasons this year and ended up with the scoring title.
However, his Player Efficiency Rating still lagged behind both Durant and James. Anthony had 24.8, the highest of his career, but he still trailed Durant and James who had 28.3 and 31.6 respectively. By the way, the last time LeBron had less than 24.8, he was 22 years old.
While LeBron James’ championship pedigree was certainly questioned before he won a championship last year, the key to bouncing back was a Game 6 for the ages in which he beat the Boston Celtics almost by himself.
Anthony was in a similar situation on Saturday, but had his dunk attempt blocked by Roy Hibbert instead, as shown in this video.
As long as Anthony can’t figure out a way to put the team on his back and win these games, the Knicks can’t win a championship by building around him.