New York Knicks: Comparing Carmelo Anthony and Bernard King
In Carmelo Anthony's press conference at Modell's in Times Square, I was able to be to see him present his new Mission Skincare Power Grip product in person. Although he promoted the product, he also opened himself up to questions on anything and everything involving his experiences in the NBA and about basketball in general.
This was when I was able to ask him: "Growing up, were there any players you looked up to? And do you model your game after any of them today?"
It was a nostalgic moment for him as he answered: “My favorite player is Bernard King, I always looked up to Bernard King, his game, his mid-range game. He was one of the true small forwards of the basketball game. A guy who could go inside, a guy who could step outside, a guy who could just flat out get it done. You know that was somebody who growing up I used to watch old footage of Bernard King, I always tried to cater my game after his, or take some of his moves, or take his mid-range game and just try to put my own spin to it.”
Since Anthony gets much of his inspiration for his offensive game from former Knick's fan favorite, I felt like it would be a worthy endeavor to compare their games side by side, from every aspect and see who comes out on top: Carmelo Anthony or his idol growing up?
Although the career averages in assist numbers for both Anthony and King are comparable at 3.1 APG and 3.3 APG respectively, Bernard King was the better passer.
King's peak year in assists was 4.6 per game, while Anthony's to date was a slightly lower 3.8 per game.
That being said, it has to be taken into consideration that Anthony is playing in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system now.
With only 27 games under his belt so far with the run-and-gun Knicks, it is entirely possible that Anthony's scoring role could expand to more of a point forward role going forward, to make the Knicks more versatile and much tougher for their opponents to defend.
Anthony also has the help of fellow high scorer Amar'e Stoudemire, which could help to boost his assist numbers if the two supreme scorers learn to feed off of each other.
When asked by another reporter at the press conference: "Will you be playing more of a point forward role with the Knicks going forward?"
Anthony responded with a laugh: "I don't know man, your going to have to call D'Antoni to find that out."
So whether or not it will actually happen or not is yet to be determined, since even Anthony himself doesn't seem to really know. If D'Antoni is paying attention though, it would definitely be a smart idea to give it a try. Since Anthony showed flashes last season of having the ability to evolve into a better passer.
King averaged 9.5 RPG and 8.2 RPG in his first and second seasons respectively with the New Jersey Nets, but for most of his career, he fell between the 4-5 rebound per game range.
Anthony on the other hand has been closer to 6-7 rebounds per game during his time with the Denver Nuggets and the short stint he's had so far with the Knicks.
This area tends to get overshadowed by Anthony's superb scoring ability, but I believe he is one of the better rebounding small forwards in the game, and may average more of them in the future with the Knicks.
The reason for this is because with the Knicks pushing the ball, it equals out to more possessions, which then leads to more shots, which gives way to more rebounding opportunities.
9. Offensive Post Game
Although Anthony does a solid job banging in the paint, King gets the nod in this category.
The frustrating thing with Anthony is that since he is playing for D'Antoni, he is becoming more of a perimeter scorer, instead of banging down low and getting to the free throw line, which is when he is most efficient and is at his best.
While King made his living off of his baby jumper, he had a pretty spin move he used to utilize in the paint, as well as a variety of runners across the lane which served him well throughout his career.
Hopefully, D'Antoni will realize that having Anthony shoot more three pointers is a mistake, and will have him drive the ball more and slash to the hoop, as it gives him more of a chance to get to the free throw line and get the other team in foul trouble.
Since D'Antoni is a major advocate of the 3-point shot, it is hard to imagine that Anthony won't be taking more outside shots, regardless of whether it truly suits his game or not.
8. Midrange Game
The midrange game is easily the most effective aspect of King's game.
Time and time again, he would knock down the baby jumper from 12-15 feet, and it was nearly unstoppable. Once he got it off, you almost knew it was going in.
Anthony has a decent midrange game also, but it has become a lost art in the league today, for the most part.
Most elite scorer's, like Anthony, either rack up points by burying 3-point shots or by slashing to the hoop. While both are effective, Anthony could definitely learn a little something from his idol in this area of his game.
Taking a couple steps in, rather than shooting the three or shooting from the top of the key could help his efficiency from field goal range and make the Knicks an even more dangerous team on the offensive end of the floor.
7. Perimeter Scoring
Although Anthony will definitely be encouraged to shoot more from the perimeter playing for a coach like Mike D'Antoni, it is not fair to just say he is better at it because he is forced to do it more than King did.
King's career 3PT percentage was absolutely terrible, as he averaged around 17 percent shooting from distance for his career.
Anthony, on the other hand, has shot almost double that for his career, at 32 percent. The number that is truly impressive though, is that during his short time with the Knicks, he was able to boost his usual perimeter percentage up to 42 percent.
It's no knock on King that he wasn't a 3-point shooter, especially since he practically owned the midrange game with his baby jumper.
It is encouraging to see that Anthony is at least knocking down the long range shot at a decent clip with the Knicks, since it's basically guaranteed that he will continue to be shooting more from there as long as D'Antoni is the head coach of the team.
6. Free Throw Shooting
As I mentioned in a previous slide, Anthony is most effective when he is banging in the paint and getting to the free throw line.
He is a career 80 percent shooter from the line, and an even more encouraging 87 percent during his time donning the orange and blue for the Knicks.
King hovered around 70 percent for most of his career, and even shot in the 50's twice in his second and third season as well.
It's clear that this category is definitely one that Anthony has a leg up on his hero.
5. Clutch Scoring
This is probably one of the toughest categories to choose a clear winner between the two players. However, for the simple fact of longevity, I'm going to give the nod to King here.
The above video shows that even Anthony would hand the ball over to King during crunch time. As the video implies, it was one of the greatest duels in NBA History between him and Knicks enemy (for many reasons) Isiah Thomas.
Anthony also has help with Stoudemire in the paint, so if he isn't shooting well on a night, he can defer to his fellow teammate and allow him to carry the Knicks in the clutch.
While King had some solid role players on his team, there was no one really there to help take the pressure off of him, so his opponents pretty much knew he was getting the ball, and they still couldn't stop him!
Once he got the ball in his comfort zone of 12-15 feet, it was as if the ball had a magnet inside of it, straight through the net nearly every time.
Anthony is arguably the best "closer" in today's game though, so he definitely deserves some credit as well. Once Anthony passes King in seasons and games played, it is entirely possible that he will supplant King in clutch scoring.
4. Slashing Ability
Although Anthony has some shifty moves that aid him at taking the ball to the hole, keep in mind the quote that gave birth to this article. He "modeled" his game after King's.
So the moves which he utilizes today to light up the scoreboard originated from King himself.
Anthony could not have modeled his game after a better player, since King's high-scoring style fits well with Anthony's main strength, which is obviously his scoring ability.
The moves which Anthony continues to work on and perfect today are his own version of what King used back in his heyday to annihilate his opponents. So their games are very similar in this area, mainly because Anthony's slashing ability was born from what he learned from his favorite player growing up.
3. Perimeter Defense
As amazing as King and Anthony were on the offensive end of the floor, neither of them excelled or even were marginal on the defensive end.
For Anthony it will be interesting to see if the hiring of the defensive minded assistant coach Mike Woodson will help him to change his ways on the defensive end.
Or will D'Antoni not reinforcing defense totally overshadow any efforts made by Woodson? No one really can tell until it unfolds, but both players are definitely similar in this area.
Especially since the two of them both definitely stuck to what they excelled at, scoring, rather than worrying about improving on the defensive end.
2. Defense in the Post
Echoing the sentiments of the last slide, both players defensive efforts were marginal at best.
When Anthony was asked what he had been working on this offseason he answered:
“Right now I’m training. Training, training. trying to say fit... I try to stay ahead of the game. I’m just trying to get in the best shape I can. It really wasn’t one [part of his game] thing. I have been working on my whole game. I have been working offensively. I been working out in the post. Also working on the perimeter. My main thing was getting in the best shape that I can, conditioning wise. Working on my stamina, get my body right, drop pounds, drop some weight, I feel really good about myself. In the meantime I’m try to stay well conditioned so when they uplift the lockout I will be ready. I’m getting body tone up”
Whether or not he has been working hard on his defense is not so much the question, as is his ability to continue to bring the effort he has put into it in the offseason into the regular season whenever it resumes.
Anthony has to do more than give lip service to it, he has to bring it on the defensive end regardless of who the opponent is.
Both King and Anthony were marginal defenders at best, but likely were better perimeter defenders than they were in the post, since they both played small forward, which, for the most part, is defending players who get the ball on the perimeter.
1. Coming Through in the Clutch Is...
Due to the fact that Anthony models his game after King, it's hard to give him the nod over King just yet.
King was played a total of 14 seasons and battled injuries and drug addiction throughout most of his career, and was still able to be spectacular for most of it's entirety, save a couple of bad seasons.
Known for back-to-back 50 point games and plenty of duels with some of the greatest players to ever play the game, including Isiah Thomas, Larry Bird and many more, King reigns supreme for now.
However, when all is said and done and Anthony retires, it will be interesting to see if he is able to eclipse the man who inspired the top scorer in the NBA that electrifies the Madison Garden Crowd today.
The debate of who is the best small forward of All-Time to date will come down to Bernard King vs. Carmel Anthony. Only time will tell if Anthony can be the new King of New York (no pun intended.)