Carmelo Anthony had an incredible 2012-13 season for the New York Knicks last year that resulted in a scoring title and a selection to the All-NBA second team. Yet, there is reason to believe that the best has yet to come.
The Knicks needed 'Melo to carry the team offensively last season, especially with the absence of Amar'e Stoudemire and he delivered. The former Syracuse standout averaged 28.7 points per game and shot well from beyond the arc (.379, the second best percentage of his career).
Most of ‘Melo’s points last season resulted from isolation plays in the post, meaning that he had to work for most of his points rather than receiving the ball in the flow of the offense. When he received the ball in the post, he was usually double-teamed, making his job much more difficult.
Opposing players would focus so much on ‘Melo, that when Anthony would not attempt a shot from the post, he would pass out of the double-team and the ball would eventually find an open shooter. This season, New York has better shooters, which will make it harder for the opposition to leave their man and help with ‘Melo.
New York managed to acquire a stretch big man in Andrea Bargnani from Toronto (36.1 percent) to bolster their three-point shooting. The Knicks also signed backup point guard Beno Udrih (35.2 percent) and Metta World Peace (34.2 percent), both solid perimeter shooters. (*Percentages provided by ESPN.com)
The abundance of perimeter shooters will almost certainly lead to better looks for Anthony and better looks will lead to a higher shooting percentage.
Last season, ‘Melo’s field goal percentage (.449) fell right in line with his career average (.456), but in order to get over the hump and make the All-NBA first team, his efficiency has to rise.
Anthony will also benefit on the defensive end from New York’s new additions, specifically World Peace. ‘Melo spent most of his time at the power forward position last year, and while he performed well offensively, he took a beating on the defensive end.
Anthony was not bad defensively last season and performed admirably against bigger players such as Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls) and David West (Indiana Pacers), but he used a lot of energy to do so—energy that could have been used on the offensive end, where he is most valuable.
This season, World Peace can step in and guard those type of players and allow ‘Melo to guard a perimeter player, a task he is better suited for. World Peace will make life easier for Anthony, and his presence should lead to a fresher ‘Melo on offense.
Perhaps the biggest reason to expect a huge year from Anthony is his contract situation. 'Melo has the option to opt out of his current contract following the 2013-14 season and chances are he will. It is too early to discuss whether he will go to a new team, but he will almost certainly will opt out and look for a new contract.
In order to guarantee that he gets the money he wants, Anthony knows he has to have a great season. He would probably get a max contract anyway, but a dominant season will only help his cause. A motivated 'Melo is a deadly 'Melo.
Look for Carmelo Anthony to be on top of his game and have a huge season this year.