Carmelo Anthony

Is Carmelo Anthony A Franchise Player?

New York Knicks fans rejoiced when Carmelo Anthony escaped from his Rocky Mountains aerie, and flew across the country to grab his rightful place at the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden. Knicks fans have had their dreams filled with orgiastic fantasies of Carmelo joining forces with Amar’e Stoudemire to recruit the future services of Chris Paul. And, if this does occur, the Big Three in Miami and Boston will no longer be viewed as impossible impediments to an NBA crown, but manageable speed bumps.

Melo was returning to his birthplace, the city his family left when he was eight, and at the age of 26 could claim his stake in the city. After suffering through nearly a decade’s worth of abysmal basketball at Madison Square Garden, Knicks fans jumped at the prospect of Carmelo Anthony putting the basketball universe in its proper order, with the Knicks rightfully moving to the center of the game’s power nexus.

Amar’e Stoudemire had awakened Madison Square Garden, but Carmelo Anthony had been the precious bauble that Knicks’ backers desperately wanted. Would Melo end up in the hands of Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov’s New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets (or whatever they’re going to be called in the future) or would the Knicks be able to land this coveted basketball diva – unlike what happened in their pursuit of LeBron James who would have been a supernova of athletic brilliance and off-the-court celebrity.

Knicks owner James Dolan inserted himself into the negotiations with the Denver Nuggets – and it has been posited – pushed Knicks President Donnie Walsh to the background. The Knicks gave up the nucleus of a young and improving team, mortaged the future with a surplus of draft picks surrendered to the Nuggets, and landed the object of Big Apple desire, Carmelo Anthony.

This is a narrative that should be applauded. Knicks fans should congratulate James Dolan for landing a player that has been hailed as a franchise savior, but the story is more complex and far less simple than that.

Melo’s Playoff Impotence

In Carmelo Anthony’s eight-year NBA career, his teams have won two playoff series. Both of these series wins occurred in 2009, when Chauncey Billups was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Allen Iverson, and the Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals. The Billups deal was a tacit acknowledgement that the Iverson/Melo experiment was a failure, and Iverson received the blame for its lack of success because of his ball-dominating ways.

Melo supporters will steadfastly contend; that his stay in Denver was characterized by a failure to surround the Nuggets’ franchise player with enough talent to succeed in the playoffs. During Anthony’s stay in Denver, the Western Conference was loaded and it was an achievement, in and of itself, to make the playoffs. Denver’s inability to win playoff series can’t be blamed on Melo, but instead the accusatory finger has to be pointed at the Denver front office, and its failure to spend money and attract suitable talent to play with it’s franchise star.

The preceding paragraph is a plausible argument, but is Carmelo Anthony the type of player that elevates the games of his teammates? After being swept in the first-round of the 2011 playoffs by the Boston Celtics, Melo’s Knicks could be painted with the same brush that was used to characterize his Denver teams. With Chauncey Billups injured and able to suit up for only Game 1 and Stoudemire a victim of a tweaked back that rendered him ineffective for Games 2, 3 and 4, New York’s competitive chances were placed on the superstar shoulders of Carmelo Anthony.

No one can really believe that Melo should have carried the Knicks to victory versus the Celtics, and he did submit a stunning performance in Game 2 when Stoudemire’s balky back eventually forced him to the bench, but Anthony is nowhere near a complete basketball player.

Melo is a superb scorer. He can break down wing defenders one-on-one, he can back guys down into the post and score in the paint, in Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system his 3-point field goal percentage has dramatically improved, he possesses court vision - but everyone knew most of this about Anthony. Everyone knew that New York was acquiring a player with immense offensive talent, but certain ugly truths have also been revealed.

Uninspired Dee-fense!

Carmelo Anthony is a crappy defensive player. In fact, it could be argued that he isn’t even a lousy defensive player, but that he is indifferent to defense. It’s almost as if the very concept of defense is below him.

Do I really need to hustle and close out on my man who is shooting a wide open 3-pointer? Do I have to get on the floor for a loose ball? If I come home with a black eye, which could prevent me from taking part in the next photo shoot arranged by my wife LaLa, is she is going to have my ass?

I know that you are shaking your head, wondering how this ass clown can attack Melo’s game when he recorded these numbers versus the Celtics:

26.0 ppg  10.3 rpg  4.8 apg

Yes, those are nice numbers, but we all knew he could score. The Knicks invested maximum money, and lost untold future talent, on a guy who is a dilettante on the defensive end. As a team leader, Melo is expected to understand how to rotate on defense. If he doesn’t quite understand the defensive rotation or makes a mistake, how about hustling to amend the error? Anthony will jog toward his man who is letting fly with another uncontested three.

People will argue that D’Antoni does not emphasize defense, so why should Melo exert himself? Because unless a superstar leads on both ends of the floor, through hard work and hustle, an NBA championship will constantly fall out of the team’s reach. D’Antoni went so far as to place Anthony on Boston point guard Rajon Rondo – either to keep him out of foul trouble or to hide his matador moves.

Examine the Miami Heat and look at the effort that LeBron James and Dwayne Wade expend on the defensive end. Watch D Wade close out on a 3-point shooter and sprint at the open man, with Braveheart abandon, and attack his shooting hand. D Wade doesn’t jog, or raise a token hand at his man but puts pressure on the shooter. Both he and LeBron excel on both ends of the court.

Celtics bully and defender extraordinaire, Kevin Garnett, raised Boston’s collective commitment to defense when he arrived from Minnesota. Paul Pierce, who was a sometimes apathetic defender, bought into KG’s call to arms and restored his commitment to defense.

Battling Kobe’s Lakers in the 2011 playoffs, with a cast that isn’t supremely gifted, New Orleans Hornets franchise player Chris Paul battles on both ends of the court. Paul is a tenacious defender and seldom gives less than maximum effort. If your team’s leader works hard on the defensive end, everyone is forced to buy into it. It’s the product of peer pressure, collective will, a fight to retain your job, and a desire to win.

The Carmelo Effect

Carmelo forced Denver to deal him. Anthony wanted a maximum contract that would be unaffected by the next collective bargaining agreement. He didn’t want to sacrifice one cent to come to New York, and he didn’t care how much talent or draft picks the Knicks had to expend to get him. If Melo’s desire to come to New York was all about basketball and winning a championship, he would have waited to sign with New York as a free agent, but he wanted his cash. It didn’t matter if that money was Russian-backed rubles or cash from Cablevision subscriptions, Carmelo wanted the ultimate score.

Carmelo and his wife LaLa Vasquez are now making a bid to become the First Couple of the NBA, and unseat Lamar Odom and his wife Khloe Kardashian from this lofty social status. Carmelo and LaLa will appear at public relations events, galas, gain maximum exposure, unveil their reality television series, and attempt to amass a fortune in endorsements, but none of this will bring the Knicks closer to an NBA title. And none of these ancillary endeavors will make Melo a better basketball player.

What Anthony’s brief time in New York has revealed, is that Melo is a vital component to a Knicks renaissance, but the next piece added to construct New York’s Big Three will be more important. Chauncey Billups will return for the 2011-12 season, but throughout the season, and the Knicks will covetously eye Chris Paul with unvarnished desire.

In Commissioner David Stern’s NBA, where hand-checking has been rendered obsolete, a one-on-one perimeter defender has no conceivable chance of effectively slowing down an elite point guard. For the Knicks to move to the next level, the next components added by Donnie Walsh or his successor, will have to be an elite point guard and defensive-minded complementary players. Walsh must question whether Deron Williams would have been a better addition than the future reality television character known as Melo.

Legacy

Barring a work stoppage, when the 2011-12 season starts, Carmelo Anthony will be 27-years-old. Entering the prime of his career, Melo must ask whether he wants to have a career that has parallels to Vince Carter, or will he produce a body of work that is championship driven and displays his maturation as a player?

Embracing and actively pursuing a celebrity lifestyle will not make Anthony’s New York adventure any easier. When things go bad, and they always do, Gotham media types will ask whether Carmelo’s off the court commitments are undermining New York’s aspirations for an NBA title.

Carmelo Anthony’s legacy, and his preferential status with the New York media, may all ride on the Knicks’ ability to recruit Chris Paul.

Will his legacy be that of one of the all-time NBA greats? And, at this moment in time, is he even worthy of being labeled a Top 10 player in today’s NBA?

Related posts:

  1. Mark Heisler: Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, a match made . . . NOT in heaven (4/2/11)
  2. Can Carmelo Anthony Push the Knicks Over the Top?
  3. The 5 Changes the Knicks Must Make in the Offseason
  4. No Melo, No Cry
  5. Gangs of New York: The Beginning of the Borough War?

Discussion

16 Responses to “Is Carmelo Anthony A Franchise Player?”

  1. I could have saved you many words here Sheridan. Answer is simply: um, no.

    Posted by beant0wnlove | April 29, 2011, 3:57 pm
    • I agree with you, but it’s not as clear cut as yes or no. Melo is an offensive force, which always make people drool all over themselves, but there is so much lacking in his game. Amar’e is more important to the Knicks than Melo.

      Posted by Dave Sheridan | April 30, 2011, 5:45 pm
  2. Here’s my question, what is a franchise player?

    Lets compare Carmelo to Lebron who is considered a “franchise player.”
    I mean throughout their time in the league Lebron and Carmelo have produced the same results in the stat that matters most, NBA Championships. Neither of them have any. Still Lebron is considered a franchise player for all the great talents he possess. I think any true fan would agree if numbers don’t add up to Larry O’Brien trophies then they are pointless.

    Yes, Carmelo is not a great defender but he has made an effort to address that at the end of this season and in the playoffs against Boston. Simply put, Defense will not be his strong suit, but i’m ok with that because he possess talents that not many have on the offensive end.

    For now, I cannot question his status as a franchise player. His stats in this brief playoff stint with the Knicks don’t lie. Especially in game two when he did like any franchise player would do by putting the team on his back short handed against arguably the best team in the eastern conference.

    Posted by Bob | April 29, 2011, 11:32 pm
    • Bob, you make a lot of good points, but LeBron has won playoff series. LeBron carried his team to the NBA Finals, with talent that was constantly, if not correctly, maligned.

      I agree that Melo was sensational in Game 2 versus the Celtics, but he is a burden to his team on defense. 82games.com shows that when Anthony is on the court the oppositon scores 114.2 points per game. When he is off the floor, opponents score 110.4 per game. To his credit, the Knicks score 4.5 points more per game when Melo is on the floor.

      If you are truly a franchise player, should’t the team improve in all facets of the game with Anthony on the court?

      I’m not going to campaign that the Knicks should trade Carmelo, but Melo’s value is almost soley based on his ability to score.

      Franchise players should be multi-faceted. Kobe can score and play lock down D. D Wade can get it done on both ends of the court. The Bulls allegedly refused to part with Noah to get in the Melo derby, and were they wrong?

      I believe Melo can give a lot more on the defensive end, but he half-asses it most of the time. Melo can score, but how many points does he give back to the other team?

      Right now, Melo is enjoying a Madison Square Garden honeymoon, but eventually the shine will dim and Knicks fans will start asking what is Melo doing on defense?

      Posted by Dave Sheridan | April 30, 2011, 6:28 pm
  3. Carmelo Anthony has done everything that was expected of him.He has yet to let his teammates,front office and fans down. His lack of defense cannot be held against him because he plays harder defense then most on his team.What more can you ask of a player? Defensive philosophy falls on the coach so if Melo doesn’t meet your approval take it out on D’Antoni. I as a Knick fan am glad to have him more than I worry about his defense.

    Posted by kendall1 | April 30, 2011, 8:48 am
    • No one is writing that Carmelo has let anyone down, but let’s not congratulate Carmelo for playing better D than Bill Walker and Shawne Williams, which shouldn’t be the barometer we use to judge franchise players. Should we compare Kevin Garnett’s defensive results to Nenad Krstic? That’s absurd.

      What more can you ask of a player? He loses his man – a lot.

      Do you believe George Karl was always impressed by Melo’s dedication to D? Let’s not blame Melo’s defensive indifference completely on Mike D’Antoni, because he played the same way in Denver.

      I’m a Knicks fan, too. But the guy needs to contribute more on the defensive end. The same argument used to be made about Amar’e in Phoenix, and he now at least works on the defensive end.

      If the Knicks eventually sign Chris Paul, Melo will be the third best player on the team. That’s not a franchise player – that’s someone named Chris Bosh.

      Melo is not Chris Bosh – he has more talent in his headband than Bosh does – but a franchise player is required to do it all.

      Melo doesn’t do that.

      Posted by Dave Sheridan | April 30, 2011, 6:41 pm
      • at least bosh isn’t cancerous to building a championship caliber team like carmelo is.

        which i believe is what your article trying to say, underneath it all of course

        Posted by hu-whaat | May 2, 2011, 1:51 am
        • ps

          hey dave i’ll give you a nickname for the miami heat for free; “big three” + “little twelve”= V (for victory) 12
          if the heat were a car engine, that’s what they’d be. V12 power baby.

          Posted by hu-whaat | May 2, 2011, 2:06 am
  4. I understand your point Dan, and as a Knicks fan i’m happy with Melo on our team. Now we have someone that people fear which we did not really have before. Unlike many of the star in the NBA Melo has an uncanny ability to win games, hence the fact he has the most game winner or go ahead shots in the finals seconds since MJ. That game he won in Memphis in the regular season, and that last shot he hit against the pacers is exactly what I was expecting when we got him. I think time will tell what Melo pans out to be for the Knicks but i’m optimistic about or future. I don’t think I can’t agree with him being the third best player if CP3 comes to town though. Melo is just as good or better than him or Amare in my opinion. But CP definitely did solidify his spot as the top PG in the league with the series against the Lakers.

    Posted by Bob | April 30, 2011, 7:10 pm
  5. i love this article but the fact is there is no way amare is better than carmelo. Chris paul would mean more to the team because the knicks can score all they need is a great quarterback and some defense. Amare and carmelo are very comparable but melo can shoulder more offense and if he was amare’s hieght he’d have the same amount of blocks because amare is by no means a great defender but give them both this summer to work everything out.

    Posted by Abel | May 2, 2011, 8:58 am
  6. Short answer, no. Long answer is that while Melo is a great scorer, he is far from a complete player. Melo is lacking in defensive commitment in a serious way, and while he can certainly take over a game offensively, defense wins championships. I also think Melo lacks a little maturity and leadership ability. Sure, he can take over offensively, and even carry a team on his back for a little while, but does he lead his fellow players? Does he make those around him better? I haven’t seen these qualities in Melo yet, and until he starts showing them, and plays at least competent defense, he can’t be regarded as a franchise player.

    Posted by drubacca117 | May 2, 2011, 7:24 pm
  7. Listen, let’s look at the stats first.

    One, he and Amare this year were almost identical with PER (22.8 essentially for both).

    Which is All-Star but not MVP tier numbers.

    Both are offensive forces who don’t do much else.

    But to say Melo isn’t a Top 10 player is just stupid man. Name me 9 better players in the NBA right now?

    Kobe, Paul, Deron, Dirk, Durant, D12, Rose, Wade, and Bron. That’s it.

    Melo is arguarbly the 10th best player in the NBA…..bar none.

    He’s had about as much success as Paul or Deron or really Rose. He’s a better rebounder AND defender than Amare, younger, with better legs.

    For all intensive purposes he’s our franchise player.

    Is he a superstar? FUCK NO! But then again, who is? Is Deron….NO.

    Is Blake Griffin? Well, yea maybe in his dunks he is, but otherwise the guy hasn’t done jack shit yet.

    Melo just needs the right coach is all. And a true leader who plays defense. Him and Paul would be nasty, b/c eventually we’re gonna trade away Amare.

    That said, man Deron and Amare would’ve been NICCEEEE! lols

    Posted by ry | May 2, 2011, 9:59 pm
  8. I totally agree that Melo doesn’t give that defensive effort but that’s not to say he couldn’t if he really had a big push in that direction, however I don’t think that he’s such the liability as much as the rest of the damn team, they play lackluster D themselves and don’t put up half the offensive numbers Melo does, watching him play game 2 was like watching a C.Y.O. league + Carmelo Anthony, laughable, he heaved these role players on his back and was unreal on the offensive end, that is the quality of a franchise player right there, unquestionably, to be considered a franchise player in the long term yes he needs to enhance his D but if he were playing with a tougher defensive squad that would be so much easier overlooked

    Posted by Longman | October 26, 2011, 10:08 pm

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