There has been a lot of talk lately that the Knicks need to blow it up and trade everybody; that a fresh start is the only option for this team if they want to contend anytime soon.
A transformation is necessary for the Knicks, and there is no way around that, but the one thing the Knicks need not change is Anthony.
The Knicks won 54 games in 2012-13. They won the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1994 and won a playoff series for the first time since 2000. Who was the man behind both of these accomplishments? Anthony.
Anthony is often criticized for his selfish play and poor shot taking. People say he doesn’t care about winning and only cares about himself. He has received more criticism this year, and people continuously berate him with the selfish stereotype and say that you can’t win a championship with him. They are wrong.
This year, Anthony’s points are down, his field-goal attempts are down and his three-point attempts are down.
Also, Anthony’s rebounds, assists, blocked shots and steals are all up, while his turnovers are down. Seems like quite the team player.
Anybody who says Anthony only cares about himself and doesn't care about winning is wrong. Watch the Knicks play. Watch Anthony play. The guy is dying to win; he puts everything he has into every game.
Most of the people who criticize the 29-year-old don’t watch every Knicks game, and others who criticize Anthony simply don’t know enough about the game.
To win a championship, you do need at least a top-15 player. Look at the recent list of NBA champions or their finals opponent. The Heat have LeBron and Wade, the Mavericks have Dirk, the Lakers have Kobe, the Spurs have Parker and Duncan. The list goes on and on.
It is rare to have a superstar on your team. It is rare to have a talent like Carmelo Anthony. To give up on Melo while he’s just 29 years old would be a massive mistake; it would be a classic James Dolan mistake.
Carmelo is one of the top 15 players in the NBA. He is a superstar and one of the best scorers in the Association (he would be the best scorer if it weren’t for Kevin Durant being absurdly good).
Though you need a top-caliber player to win a championship, you cannot win solely on the back of that one player. It’s time for everyone to stop getting on Melo and start focusing on the rest of this roster.
The Knicks are halfway through the season, and their center, defensive-stopper and probably second-best player, Tyson Chandler, has played just 17 games. Not only has he played just 17 games, but he’s also only played to his norm for about four of those games. Chandler has been completely out-of-sorts and looks nothing like what we have come to expect of him.
J.R. Smith won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award last season. He had his best season ever, averaging career highs in points, 18.1, and rebounds, 5.3. This year, Smith has been fined and suspended for smoking marijuana, untying opponents' shoelaces and being late to team meetings. He is also averaging just 11.9 points on an awful 36.7 percent from the line and an equally inefficient 63.6 percent from the free-throw line. Also, though there is no statistic for it, he’s running away with the title for most bone-headed plays.
Andrea Bargnani, the Italian 7-footer who was brought to New York to space the floor and hit threes, has done neither of those things. Bargnani continuously gets in the way of the Knicks already clogged offense and is shooting an absolutely atrocious 28.2 percent from three-point range. That’s good for fifth worst in the league for players who have played over 30 games and attempt more than two threes a game, according to NBA.com/Stats. Bargnani also isn’t much of a rebounder or defender. His knowledge of team defense is about as low as it can get for an NBA player.
Raymond Felton has seemingly spent his entire season trying to capture the coveted “Most Unwatchable Point Guard” award, and he is far-and-above the leader right now. Felton is shooting 39 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point range. The Knicks’ court general has only a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (Pablo Prigioni’s is 3.7, but why ever play him?).
I’m also 99 percent sure that outside of Derek Fisher, there is not a single player in the entire Association who Felton can guard and/or stay in front of on defense (Fisher would currently finish second in the “Most Unwatchable Point Guard” rankings).
Consider this, Melo came to New York to become a dominant duo with Amar’e Stoudemire. The Knicks gave Stoudemire a $100 million contract and then teamed him up with Carmelo to become the top frontcourt in all of basketball.
So, when Melo came to New York, do you really think he or anyone else in the Knicks' organization would be satisfied with Amar’e averaging 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game? Not a chance.
I could go on about how every single person involved with this team deserves blame before Melo, but it should be pretty obvious at this point.
It’s not Melo’s fault that his team stinks. It’s not his fault that a defensive-minded coach, whose defensive schemes make no sense, coaches him. It’s not his fault that Amar’e, Felton, Smith, Chandler and Bargnani have all been awful. It’s not his fault that Iman Shumpert failed to take the step that everyone thought he would.
Nothing that has happened to this team or this organization is Carmelo Anthony’s fault. If I were Melo, I'd get out of there as fast as I could after this season, but the Knicks can’t let it happen.
Here are some categories Melo leads the Knicks in this season, via NBA.com/stats, for players who have played at least 10 games: minutes per game, total touches, points per game, points per touch, rebounds per game, percentage of rebounds per game, contested and uncontested rebounds per game and catch and shoot field-goal percentage per game.
This is not Melo's fault.
If the Knicks can get Melo to stay, it would be their best move in a long time. They need to trade anyone and everyone they can to start building around him.
Their cap space in 2015 will allow them to bring at least one other superstar to the team, and if they can surround Melo with another top-tier player and role players who actually play their roles, the Knicks will contend.
The Knicks need Carmelo Anthony. New York needs Carmelo Anthony. They must keep him because there is no telling how long it will be until they find another player with his talent.
Melo isn’t just a Knick... He is the Knicks. How about they finally get him some real help before giving up on him.
All statistics in this article via Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise stated.