Carmelo Anthony: 5 Things He Should Focus On This Summer

Joey Rotunno@@joeyrotunnoCorrespondent IIAugust 17, 2011

Carmelo Anthony: 5 Things He Should Focus On This Summer

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    Carmelo Anthony. Revered for his offensive mastery but too often chastised for his laziness on the other side of the ball.

    Regardless, the bulk of fans love him, and he’s a worldwide ambassador to the game.

    Having recently embarked on a promotional tour of China and dedicated a court to a deprived town in Puerto Rico, Anthony has had a leisurely summer thus far. With the lockout looking as if it may wipe out the entire 2011-12 campaign, offseason preparation has been lackadaisical at best.

    Anthony’s had his vacation, and like all great pro athletes, he realizes he must continue to hone his skills as if preseason will begin according to schedule.

    Asked for their input, the majority of basketball enthusiasts would recommend that Anthony concentrate on defense during workouts. However, his subpar production in this area is attributable to underachievement rather than underdeveloped talent.

    If Anthony wants to become an admirable defender, the ability is there. But he prefers to defer to his teammates when it comes to doing the dirty work.

    As we observed during New York’s playoff matchup with Boston, Anthony will step up on either end of the floor when backed into a corner. He simply needs to channel this mentality night after night during the regular season.

    Being that he’s young and injury-free, Anthony has no excuse not to give maximum effort on both sides of the ball.

    In Anthony’s case, he should dedicate summer practice sessions to improving upon his scoring versatility. While it’s not wise to completely discount the other aspects of his game, sometimes reinforcing your greatest asset pays off the most in the long run.

    While Anthony is widely regarded as one of the NBA’s more explosive scorers, believe it or not, his offensive skill set is far from impeccable.

    Keep reading to find out which elements of his game are inadequate.

Three-point Shot

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    He’s always been deadly from about 20 feet in, but when Anthony switched from powder to a royal blue uniform, sinking shots from behind the arc suddenly became second nature.

    Anthony was a below-average 33 percent three-point shooter during the 2010-11 season with the Denver Nuggets. However, once he joined the Knicks, he finished the year off at a 42 percent clip in almost double the attempts per game.

    To put it in perspective, Anthony ranked 94th overall in three-point percentage at the conclusion of the regular season, shooting 38 percent. Of those that qualified, the San Antonio Spurs’ Matt Bonner led the league, nailing 46 percent of his 230 total treys.

    Examining Anthony’s three-point shooting sample while in New York, he fired 125 shots from deep—not quite the amount Bonner took, but his accuracy as a Knick put him in the company of the NBA’s long-range specialists.

    Some may believe it was the change of scenery that magically altered his shot, but I’ll go out on a limb and say escaping the thin Rocky Mountain air had nothing to do with it.

    Anthony’s newfound precision from downtown was merely a stroke of luck; he just went on an extended hot streak over the course of a two-month period.

    Had he played a full season at the Garden, his three-point shooting would’ve been more representative of his 32 percent career average and settled in due time.

    Something positive can be taken from this, though. This brief rise in production indicates Anthony is definitely capable.

    When you’re as polished a shooter as Anthony, adding a three-point shot to your repertoire should not be difficult. He certainly has the mechanics, but it’s just a matter of getting that extra little jolt out of your legs.

    If he inserts a three-point drill into his daily offseason regimen, it will enhance his endurance and muscle memory. This will help him late in games when a player’s lower body stamina normally declines and negatively impacts his shot.

    There’s no reason Anthony can’t bury threes next season with the consistency of Kevin Durant, who shoots 36 percent for his career.

Turn-around Jumper

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    With one of the quickest releases around, Anthony frequently takes the easy way out. Instead of breaking down the man guarding him on the wing, Anthony is able to jab-step or pump fake, rise up and shoot over his opponent.

    When Anthony is in rhythm, this is a suitable scoring technique, and when he’s in the zone, it’s practically automatic. However, he also resorts to this method to bail himself out of cold spells and misfires too much.

    It may be difficult for the defender to time his jump in order to block Anthony’s shot, but this style almost always results in a contested shot and a hand in his face.

    Anthony certainly is gifted enough to learn and assimilate new moves. Adapting to the game is something all the NBA’s scoring legends (e.g. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant) have done to reach the pinnacle of greatness.

    By incorporating a turn-around jump shot into his arsenal, Anthony can use his body to shield himself from the opposition. This, in combination with his rapid release, will make it virtually impossible to deflect the ball.

    Building upon the turn-around, Anthony could eventually integrate a fade-away, further increasing the space between himself and the defender. If he gets ambitious, figuring out how to execute this move on the baseline will make him even more dangerous.

Left Hand Development

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    If you pay close attention, one key component that is noticeably absent from Anthony’s game is the use of his weaker hand.

    Anthony has gotten by on the bare essentials because it’s effective. When you’re seldom challenged and earn a living making a fool of defenders, you rely on the same old tricks so long as they consistently garner success.

    Phoenix Suns MVP point guard Steve Nash is only 6’3” and not much of a leaper, but he’s so crafty with both hands that he often evades bigger, stronger foes en route to a bucket.

    Imagine the fear Anthony would instill in his adversaries if they hadn’t a clue which direction to force him. Typically, defenders will cheat because they know very few players are ambidextrous, and they will try to coerce the opponent towards their vulnerable side.

    The ability to take the defender to the right or left off the dribble and finish at the rim with either hand will keep opponents on their heels guessing. Factor in the capacity to use either hand in the low-post and Anthony could be utterly unstoppable.

    Since he’s more comfortable there, Anthony prefers to position himself on the right wing. But if he could rely equally on either hand, lining up on the left wing is also an option.

    This flexibility is not only beneficial to Anthony, but to the coaching staff too because it allows them to introduce a variety of roster combinations depending on where Anthony is on the court.

Upper Body Strength

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    Now that he’s in the same conference, Anthony is going to have his hands full with LeBron James when the Knicks meet the Miami Heat on multiple occasions. Anthony is already in great shape, but it’s rivalries like this one that make packing on the muscle mass that much more meaningful.

    Facing defensive juggernauts such as the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, Anthony can expect extremely aggressive competition and hard fouls.

    Increasing his upper body strength will not only enable Anthony to stand up to and bang with opponents trying to back him down in the post, but it will give him an edge while attempting to gain leverage and ward off an opponent fighting for a rebound.

    Most importantly, additional brawn in his upper torso and arms will be to Anthony’s advantage when attacking the basket in traffic; he’ll possess the physical durability to overcome initial contact and convert the and-one.

    An Aug. 15 Twitter post suggests Anthony is taking strength training very seriously, considering his unorthodox tire exercises. (See above photo.)

Box-out Technique

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    Like so many NBA players, Anthony is a victim of his own raw athletic endowment, causing him to abandon the fundamentals.

    In the event New York fails to acquire a couple big men via free agency or trade to shore up the frontcourt, the team will lean heavily on Anthony to pick up the slack and crash the boards once again.

    If this is the case, Anthony must rely less on his vertical leap and length and concentrate more on footwork, positioning and stance.

    Amar’e Stoudemire clearly cannot do it alone, so Anthony must maximize his rebounding efficiency.

    Anthony has expressed a desire to become a better rebounder and even implied that he’d like to average double-digit rebounds. While this may be an unrealistic goal, he could easily raise the bar and top his current personal best of 7.4 boards per game set in 2007-08.