Melo on the attack
People always seem to fail to mention one of the NBA's greatest scorers, who has been improving by leaps and bounds since the All-Star Break. He has a put in a great deal of work to improve on both offense and defense and the fruits of his labors are showing. Who is this, you may ask?
This is Carmelo Anthony, the soon-to-be best player in the NBA.
Carmelo and his improved jumper
Carmelo Anthony is by far the NBA's most complete offensive player. His scoring prowess is well-known throughout the league by players, coaches and fans alike.
His arsenal already includes aggressive drives to the rim, pull-up jumpers, and post moves that rival those of big men. However, what most people do not realize is that he is working to add a reliable three point shot. So far, he has made great strides in doing so. Since joining New York, he has increased his three point percentage from 33 percent to 42 percent. His continued improvement in this area will make him deadly from anywhere on the floor.
Not only has he improved his three point shot, but he's also improved his free throw shooting and his shooting overall. He has increased his free throw percentage from 82 percent to 87 percent and his field goal percentage from 45 percent to 46 percent since becoming a Knickerbocker. As he becomes a more efficient offensive player, he will dominate opposing defenses even more. Plus, once he learns Coach D'Antoni's speed-ball offense, he should easily average 30 points per game.
*All stats courtesy of NBA.com
Carmelo grabbing a rebound
Not only is Carmelo a great scorer, but he is an underrated rebounder. This season, he averaged about seven rebounds per game. This places him among the elite rebounding small forwards in the league.
There's also his offensive rebounding ability. If he misses a shot at the rim, he is extremely quick to jump up and tip the ball back in before anyone else can react. It is mesmerizing to see and is a relatively unknown part of his game.
He brings tenacity on the boards every game, something that many teams, including the Knicks, sorely need. His rebounding is a huge boost and can change the course of a game.
Carmelo frustrating Paul Pierce
Carmelo was often criticized in Denver for his lack of effort on defense. He was known to let mediocre offensive players blow right by him and score in large quantities.
Now, as a Knick, he has begun to show intensity on defense during every game, regularly forcing turnovers and coming up with big blocks. When he was first traded, he defended with his hands and rarely moved his feet to stay in front of his man. However, he now frustrates players by using his natural athleticism to cut off their path to the basket.
His improvement defensively has been huge for the defensively-challenged Knicks. Hopefully he can keep up that kind of effort throughout all of next season. If he does, it should land him a spot on an All-NBA Defensive team.
Carmelo could turn into the best player in the NBA
As you can see, Carmelo has the potential to become the best player in the NBA. If he can continue his improvement in defense and three point shooting while also keeping up his tenacity on the boards, he will be an unstoppable force in Mike D'Antoni's system.
Don't be surprised if you see him averaging over 30 points per game and in the running for MVP next year. He's shown a willingness to work towards that. Hopefully, he can build upon that success next season. Only time will tell if that holds true.