Biggest Adjustments Carmelo Anthony Must Make to Elevate NY Knicks
All season long, Melo played dominant basketball, drawing double-teams as the centerpiece of an offense that ranked third in efficiency at season's end.
Eventually, Anthony was rewarded with his first scoring title, but when it came to the postseason, New York failed to live up to expectations, getting knocked out in the second round.
According to the New York Post, Melo has told the front office that he needs some extra offensive help moving forward, but the reality is that the team doesn't have the cap space to get him a true second option.
Players like Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland (assuming they're back) are going to have to step up next season, but at the same time Melo is going to need to make some adjustments as well.
After all, Melo is the face of the franchise, making it his job to elevate the team when the going is tough.
Let Raymond Felton Run the Show
The biggest problem offensively for New York in the playoffs was their focus on isolation basketball, which hurt both Anthony's and his teammates' efficiency.
Anthony is great at drawing double-teams in the post, but the elite defenses of the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers were able to stop him without always bringing an extra defender, which really broke down New York's offense.
During the regular season, however, the Knicks offense was equally effective when Raymond Felton ran the show, breaking down the defense with his aggression and penetration in the pick-and-roll.
Felton actually played particularly well in the playoffs, but down the stretch the team continued to go with isolation, forcing the point guard to play a more passive role on the team.
With Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire dealing with injury, it was obviously hard for the Knicks to be effective in the pick-and-roll, but they have to find ways to mix it up when the offense is stagnant.
Ball movement is essential for the Knicks, and they just didn't have it in the playoffs.
Avoid Conflict After the Whistle
Anthony was much more involved defensively for the Knicks last season, but at times he got carried away with his aggression, leading him to miss valuable playing time.
By the end of the season, Melo had 14 technical fouls, which was good for third in the entire league. Smith and Chandler had 13 and 10 techs respectively, so obviously this is an issue the entire team needs to work on.
The main problem Melo had is arguing with calls after the play. While a lot of the calls were definitely questionable, complaining to officials while the play is still going on serves only to hurt the team further.
Anthony was lucky not to be suspended this season, but next season suspensions will start after 15 technical fouls, and it's essential that he doesn't reach that mark. The East is going to be much tougher next season, and one missed game could dictate New York's seeding in the postseason.
Continue to Improve Defense
Without a doubt, Carmelo Anthony improved his defense significantly last season, consistently battling in the post against bigger forwards.
The full-time move to the 4 definitely helped Melo, as it seems he's more suited to the physical play in the post than covering the perimeter.
Melo showed us last season that at times he can be very effective on the defensive end, but he also gave up on plays, struggling to keep his focusfor the whole year.
In terms of rebounding, Anthony could definitely be more consistent, and there's no excuse for not increasing his average next season. Melo has the body to battle with anyone he faces on the boards and proved that with 11 double-figure rebounding games.
When he's truly locked-in, Anthony has shown signs of being an above-average defender and a dominant rebounder, but it doesn't come nearly as consistently as his offense.
Utilize the Pick-and-Roll with STAT
Much has been made of Anthony and Stoudemire not coming together as a dynamic force, and we mainly have injuries to blame for that.
Even so, if STAT is healthy next season, the two need to find a way to play off each other, so that spacing isn't an issue moving forward.
Something the Knicks haven't really tried is having Melo as the ball-handler and Stoudemire as the roller in the pick-and-roll, which has potential to wreak havoc on defenses.
As a big forward, Melo isn't a traditional pick-and-roll handler, but his quick release could make him an effective player. If he is set a good screen, he has the speed to drive to the basket and the skill to shoot a quick jumper.
If the defense brings help, Anthony simply needs to feed Stoudemire, who is arguably the best pick-and-roll power forward the NBA has seen over the last decade.
We've talked so much about New York needing to mix things up offensively to keep ball movement going, so at this point there's no excuse for not trying this partnership out.
Become a Better Leader
New York brought in a lot of veterans to help Anthony out last season, and their presence certainly did just that.
Moving forward, however, Melo is going to need to step up as one of the veteran leaders. Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas have all moved on, leaving Melo and Chandler to lead the team on their own.
Anthony has always been someone who tries to lead by example with his offense, but he needs to step up vocally and on defense as well.
Getting into fights mid-game with Kevin Garnett and wearing black to the Boston Celtics "funeral" in the playoffs are not things Melo and the Knicks need to be doing in key games.
Young players like Shumpert and Copeland are going to be a much bigger part of the team next season, and it's Melo's job to lead the way for them the way Kidd and Sheed did for him last year.