Few teams have suffered a dropoff in success from one year to another similar to what New York just experienced. The second-best team in the East this time last year, the Knicks won't even qualify for the postseason in 2013-14 and will win between 19 and 17 games less than the 54 they did last season.
The failure of 2014 can be attributed to several areas—Woodson's coaching and the curious acquisition of Andrea Bargnani have been brought up as the primary culprits—but there is one area the front office failed to address last offseason.
As it turned out, the leadership from 2012-13—Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby—meant a lot more to the Knicks' success than anyone had realized. The bevy of veterans New York was often ridiculed for stockpiling all left the team after 2013, leaving New York without a strong support system, or any locker room voice at all.
The leadership duties, essentially by default, were left primarily to Anthony. Only Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin have more NBA experience than Anthony on the Knicks, and only Chandler has the personality to fill the shoes of the departed elder statesmen.
At 29, Anthony was being asked, for the first time, to provide his team with a leading voice. In this sense, it appears he failed.
Leadership is a tricky quality to gauge outside of the locker room, but it's reasonable to judge a team's poise by the way it performs under pressure. And this year's Knicks team—Anthony in particular—have came up small in nearly every clutch situation.
In the last minute of games where the score is separated by five points or less, Anthony shot just 5-of-29 from the field, or 17 percent, including 4-of-14 from three-point range. Just three of those shots have come at the rim (all misses), and 14 have come from the mid-range, with only one make (via NBA.com).
When the Knicks need a bucket most, Anthony forces up terrible shots that usually don't go in. That's the late-game strategy.
As a team, the Knicks have been outscored by 6.8 points per 100 possessions in those clutch scenarios, ranking 27th in field-goal percentage at 35.3 percent.
Moving forward, if Anthony is part of the plans in a prominent leadership role, he'll need to find a way to rally the troops more effectively than this season. Getting out from under the asinine rule of Mike Woodson will be a positive first step.
'Melo's leading by example will become much more imperative if the team brings on a rookie coach such as Kerr. Without many young players on the roster, a new coach's words may fail to get through to some veteran players if they strike a rough patch to start the year. Anthony must see this won't become an issue.