Carmelo Anthony: 3 Reasons Defense Needs To Be His Primary Focus This Summer
With Donnie Walsh no longer in control of the New York Knicks basketball operations, coupled with an undecided collective bargaining agreement and salary cap, the Knicks must look within themselves to figure out ways to improve as a team.
The most obvious ways that stand out right away are improving the defensive mentalities of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Both of the aforementioned players are juggernauts on the offensive end, but unfortunately, their efforts on the defensive end are most times lackluster to say the least.
Since the Knicks are looking to preserve cap space for the highly acclaimed free-agency class of 2012, the Knicks may not be able to acquire much help this offseason with them being committed to Carmelo and Amar'e's lucrative contracts for the long term.
If the Knicks want to make it further into the playoffs next time around, their superstars will have to hold themselves accountable and improve defensively. If they are both able to make progress in this area, it will take pressure off their teammates and help diminish the Knicks' need for a third superstar.
3. He Lets His Offense Dictate How Hard He Works on the Defensive End
After the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony, it was clear to see that they got an elite player offensively. Unfortunately, it was also apparent that he was inconsistent on the defensive end of the floor.
The knock on Carmelo is when he is scoring the ball well and shooting a high percentage, he seems to work hard defensively as well and seems to even hold his own when his offense is firing on all cylinders.
However, when he is having a bad shooting night, he seems to disappear defensively. What is frustrating is that it comes down to effort most times with Carmelo, as the ability to be a solid defender seems to be there.
During the playoffs against the Boston Celtics, to end the game, Carmelo did not follow his defender into the backcourt on the inbounds pass. What happened as a result was the Celtics were able to burn out the clock and not allow the Knicks enough time to come back in the game.
The previously mentioned scenario has nothing to do with the offensive player being better than the defender; it has everything to do with effort. While Carmelo is undoubtedly one of the league's best crunch-time scorers, defensive lapses such as the aforementioned one are inexcusable. If the Knicks expect to advance further into the playoffs, they cannot afford to have Carmelo fall asleep defensively when the game is on the line.
2. His Coach Isn't Going To Do It for Him
While it has been rumored that the Knicks are going to hire a defensive assistant coach, which would help a bit, the Knicks still have to be willing to put the effort in on the defensive end, regardless of who is coaching them.
During a postgame press conference against the Celtics, D'Antoni was asked about Carmelo not going after his defender into the backcourt as the time on the clock expired and D'Antoni basically gave his player a pass, stating that he was "tired."
Not exactly the type of response you want to hear from a coach who is supposed to help bring your team to the promised land. While I believe D'Antoni will be given one more season to prove himself as the Knicks head coach, players must ignore his teachings (or lack thereof) on the defensive end of the floor.
D'Antoni will always be viewed as an offensive mastermind, but if Carmelo and the rest of the Knicks don't want to form bad habits on the defensive end of the floor, they must take it upon themselves to improve on that end in order to be able to seriously contend against the top-tier teams in the league.
1. The Knicks Becoming a Better Defensive Team Starts with Their Superstars
While the article may be based on what Carmelo does on the defensive end of the floor, Amar'e and even Chauncey Billups should be paying attention as well.
Using the Boston Celtics as a perfect example, when Kevin Garnett arrived they were not a solid defensive team, but following in their new superstar's footsteps, they learned to become a solid defensive unit collectively. Billups has been heard preaching this same idea that getting better "collectively" as a unit does not necessarily mean everyone on the team has to be an elite defender.
This is exactly the type of mindset the Knicks need to take on. After drafting an elite defender in Iman Shumpert, the Knicks are sure to improve on the defensive end of the floor at least a little bit from their new combo guard's contributions.
However, if the team expects to hold up the Larry O'Brien Trophy anytime soon, they will need to all improve defensively. Carmelo has shown the ability to play solid defense at times, and so has Amar'e. The biggest problem with the Knicks has always been that they are not consistent on that end of the floor.
If Carmelo and Amar'e work hard defensively, the rest of the Knicks will follow. If both of them slack off on the defensive end of the floor, the team will follow that bad habit as well. Role players on each team look to their superstars for guidance and the Knicks are no different.
If they want to improve defensively as a unit it starts with Carmelo and Amar'e. If the two superstars are able to give consistent effort on defense, regardless of what D'Antoni preaches, they will be one giant step closer to winning an NBA title than they are right now.