New York Knicks: 4 Ways Mike D'Antoni Can Utilize Carmelo Anthony Best
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By February’s All-Star Weekend, all of the Knicks’ ducks were in a row. The team had a winning record, and the offense was rolling behind primary scoring option, Amar’e Stoudemire.
Two months wasn’t ample time for Mike D’Antoni to get the triad of Stoudemire, Anthony and Chauncey Billups to click while sharing the floor. In fact, New York’s offensive efficiency improved either when Stoudemire went to the bench and Anthony played, or when Anthony watched from the sideline and Stoudemire remained in the game.
This lack of cohesion was due in part to the struggle of two of the league’s premier scorers—Stoudemire and Anthony—to learn to concede to one another and embrace unselfishness.
At this juncture in their basketball lives, assuming the role of the “go-to guy” was all they’d ever known. To be successful, compromise between the duo is a necessity.
Whether Stoudemire or Anthony takes the lead offensively next season will typically be contingent upon matchups. But, as the 2011-12 (wishful thinking) campaign progresses, Anthony will evolve into the Knicks’ principal offensive threat.
As he adapts to Anthony’s immense skill set, D’Antoni will discover the ways in which he can tap into Anthony’s ability are virtually limitless.
Let’s examine the scenarios the coach can utilize that suit Anthony best.
Pick & Roll
Mike D’Antoni perfected this fundamental during his tenure in Phoenix with Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash. Now, he’s got two new pupils in Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
When it comes to passing, Billups isn’t nearly as adept as Nash, but his shooting prowess makes him a qualified candidate to run the pick and roll effectively with Anthony.
Even as his mobility deteriorates with age, defenses still have to respect Billups’ jumper. As a result, defenders cannot cheat and solely focus on Anthony.
Instead of two defenders collapsing on Anthony and leaving Billups wide open, Anthony will have the opportunity to beat a single defender backdoor en route to an easy bucket.
Anthony is one of the strongest finishers at the rim of anybody in the NBA, so he’s an ideal recipient of an assist produced via the pick and roll.
However, if the screen creates some separation between Billups and his man, D’Antoni can be confident he’ll knock down the outside shot. In this case, the secondary option can be productive.
As this video exhibits, Anthony can still be the beneficiary of D’Antoni’s fine-tuned pick and roll system even when he’s not involved in setting the pick.
Carmelo Anthony is a triple threat in the truest sense of the words. Just give him the ball on the right wing, clear out and he’ll do the rest.
For his size, Anthony is one of the most versatile players in the league; he possesses the quickness and agility to blow by a defender with one dribble, or he’ll jab-step and swish a fade-away right over an outstretched hand.
It doesn’t matter where on the wing Anthony receives the ball because he has proven his range extends well beyond the three-point arc. Now that he’s shown he can bury the trey with consistency, few places inside half court are safe havens for a player responsible for Anthony.
There will be plenty of instances when D’Antoni relies on Anthony to make clutch baskets, and the majority of these plays will be drawn up with Anthony in isolation.
Not only is Anthony’s arsenal outfitted for scoring, he is an impressive distributor when he chooses to be.
One memorable dime made its rounds on the highlight reels from Anthony’s Denver days. In this clip against the Portland Trail Blazers, he crosses a defender over on the right wing and—all in one motion—slings the ball left-handed, splitting two opponents and connecting with Nene for the uncontested dunk.
At 6’8” and 230 pounds, Carmelo Anthony can go toe-to-toe with almost anyone in the paint. Due to his speed and explosiveness, he usually presents a mismatch for whoever is guarding him.
Anthony is too overpowering for many small forwards to handle, but his nimble feet enable him to blow by power forwards and centers unable to contain him.
Arguably the game’s most prolific scorer, Anthony can face-up or back down a defender in the post. Since he’s mastered the art of the pivot, it’s not out of the ordinary for Anthony to start at the elbow, make a move towards the basket and end up laying it in—all without ever dribbling.
Because he’s such a menace in the lane, Anthony frequently draws the double-team. With Amar’e Stoudemire down low as well, this spells doom for many a foe because teams won’t know who to focus on.
When you consider the type of damage that can be done when Anthony has a teammate to dump the rock off to like Stoudemire, defenses will have their hands full with both of them occupying the same general area.
This mix of highlights showcases Anthony’s impeccable footwork and seemingly infinite repertoire of post moves.
Run & Gun
We all know Mike D’Antoni loves to push the ball up the hardwood and play an up-tempo style at all costs.
Although he’s lauded for his one-on-one moves, Anthony is athletic enough to get out in front on the fast break to throw the hammer down.
At this stage of his career, Billups is no longer equipped to orchestrate such a fast-paced offense. But, backup combo-guard Toney Douglas and the recently drafted Iman Shumpert should have no problems assimilating to this high-octane flow.
While it may not happen as often with Billups at the helm next season, look for Anthony to catch alley-oops and rack up some fantastic finishes running alongside Knicks point guards of the future.
As this snippet demonstrates, Anthony’s dexterity rivals that of LeBron James.