Amare Stoudemire

The One-Dimensional Carmelo Anthony

Please welcome new Chasing 23 Contributor Daniel Douglas. 

Basketball , once stripped of its gaudy jerseys, mainstream hip-hop songs leading into and out of televised games, grating arena announcers, even more grating commentators and mildly sauced local celebrities made up and Vera Wangd out at courtside, is a game of individual domination.

Granted, the tete-a-tete showdowns we see in the NBA are not as savagely intimate and brutal as boxing, nor are they as structured and impersonal as baseball, but it is a game of personal attack and defense.

Therefore, when looked at from this perspective, Carmelo Anthony must be one of the top five players in the NBA, right? Or rather, he has one of the five most refined, dynamic skill sets?  I’d go so far as to say the only person equally as versatile, though in a completely different sense is Dwayne Wade

Theres a mastery and precision to Melos game: he is a mixture of drives, step backs, pull-ups, three-pointers and dunks. And he uses these weapons intelligently, according to the soft spots in the defense. Therefore, looked at from the suffocating, intimate singularity of two men vying for individual domination, I can think of very few players so adept at dropping the ball through the hoop in so many varied ways.

Then however, once I step back, beyond the sweat, the body heat, the squeaking shoes and look down at Carmelo, the picture becomes more bleak as I realize that the scoring I so love from Carmelo, is all that Carmelo could do.

If LeBron James is the ideal physical prototype of the NBA Basketball Player, then the one-dimensional Carmelo Anthony is the clay before he was molded. But before this reads even more like a Next Top Model scouting report, let me bring this back in. Its a miracle that Carmelo can do what he does offensively without once, assumingly, using the MSG fitness facility. Unfortunately, hes only able, or willing, to expend energy when the ball is in his hands or in transit to his hands, which, okay, is good for his ego, pocketbook and marketability but kind of sucks in relation to winning the actual games hes being paid to win.

The Knicks are pretty lousy defensively as is even with the second best defensive Center in the league, Tyson Chandler but with Melo (a man, mind you who has never eclipsed 100 steals or 50 blocks in a season or, if youre more sabbermetrically inclined, 3.0 Defensive Win Shares) so defensively disinterested, it appears he thinks a mere stern look will alter his man’s shot, the season could turn ugly (uglier) for the Knicks.

But this isnt really about the Knicks. Its about Melo. And you. And me. And whichever Sportscenter windbag reaches nirvana because a player siphons a third of his teams shots so he can prove to doubtful fans he can still average 30 points a game.

Melos a good rebounder for his position (10th place among SF for rebounds per 48 minutes) but doesnt often pass (3.1 APG) or take even halfway decent care of the ball (3.0 TPG for a 1-1 assist to turnover ratio). So by my count, I have him as an exceptional scoring threat who is average to abysmal at everything else.

Yet, ask anyone, and they will tell you Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in the NBA. According to the ESPN NBA player rankings, Melo is the 12th best player in the league while his similar high scoring, sedentary, and disinterested teammate Amare Stoudamire is 13th.

How do you have two of the top 15 players in the NBA and post a sub-.500 record, as the Knicks have since acquiring Melo? How did Denver get rid of the 12th best player in the league and get better?

Well, the answer is, because the Nuggets got better players, despite what we may think.

Were obsessed with scoring, which makes sense. The object of the game is to put up more points than your opponent, so it stands to reason that the best person will be he who scores the most points for his team. Its logical, i but its so damn wrong.

Scoring is great, for viewers and players (theres nothing more selfishly satisfying than seeing your shot snap the bottom of the mess) but, if youre on the other side of the ball, the swish should be as equally horrible as it is gratifying for the shooter. Yet its not. Its treated not just by Melo I should add as a minor irritant, a small disagreeable outcome, that doesnt quite matter so much in the scheme of things. Which, abstractly speaking, it doesnt. However, by that token, neither does scoring. The relationship is a perfectly equal one; two segments of the same pie, except were only looking at the segment adorned with glitter and Smarties pieces.

Melo gets his points, usually with reasonable efficiency he has shot better and less, before this season, than the man most consider the unquestionably greatest-player-to-ever-force-himself-on-a-hotel-staffer Kobe Bryant but his team spends games disinterested and miffed, knowing the only time theyll see the ball is when Melo catches his breath on the bench or flings an unsuspecting pass at their heads when hes trapped by defenders. The Knicks average only 18.6 assists per game (24th) and the next leading scorer aside from Melo (24.1 PPG on .396 shooting) and Amare (17.7 on .422) is Iman Shumpert  who has taken 171 less shots, and surprisingly missed nearly as much.

Look, Melo is one of the better scorers in the league and one of my favorite players to watch. But if he wants to win, to drive deeper than the first round of the playoffs year after year, hes going to have to commit to doing the shitty things as well.

He wont. And the Knicks will continue to lose. And Melo will continue to be praised. And we’ll blame his teammates. And hell get another max contract. And we will watch. And we will wonder why, with all the offensive talent Carmelo possesses, he cant win.

I just told you why. But nobodys listening.


16 Responses to “The One-Dimensional Carmelo Anthony”

  1. When I watched the game last night against the Bulls, it was clear to me that Melo is the problem with the offense, every time he touches it he thinks about shooting, regardless if there are multiple hands in his face or open teammates. He got out played by the rookie Jimmy Butler in the 4th, and quite simply put, I agree with everything you just wrote.

    Posted by pointguard40 | February 3, 2012, 12:11 pm
  2. Haha I don’t know man its tough for the dude because his team is losing and his former team is striving but the dude’s been banged up and they have a ROOKIE whose a natural born scorer as their point guard. This just shows how important the PG position is in the NBA (most important IMO).

    They’re telling Melo to do something he’s never done in his career, facilitate and create plays. That’s not what he does, he’s a guy that will get you buckets (and thrives in the clutch) who commands attention on defense, thus opening up opportunities for everyone else and can rebound the ball. I think since coming back from his injury he’s done a good job at picking and choosing when to attack and when to set up teammates, granted it’s only been two games. Still, Chi-town is one of the best defenses in the league and Melo got everyone involved in that game.

    Posted by stillshining | February 3, 2012, 12:45 pm
  3. He wont continue to get those max contracts if the Knicks with Anthony and Stoudemire don’t make the playoffs.If the Knicks can’t make the playoffs with both of these guys,I think their max contracts come to an end.

    Posted by knickfan212 | February 3, 2012, 2:48 pm
  4. Nice article. Melo’s absolutely murdering the Knicks right now. He used to be an incredibly efficient scorer, but right now he’s one of the most inefficient leading men in the league. He’s 2nd in shot attempts per game but only 7th in makes, and he’s wrecking his team’s offensive flow in the process. And without scoring efficiently, he’s got very little value to the team because, as you point out, the rest of his game is below average.

    I say bench his ass unless he gets it together. And long-term, I don’t see how this team can win until it unloads either Melo or Stoudemire.

    Posted by Lochpster | February 3, 2012, 4:44 pm
    • I think your missing the major point of this article. Which is that until Melo(and NY) plays defense as well as trying to socre the team will keep failing and never go anywhere.

      This is a coaching issue as much as anything. They need to fire their coach. I have been saying that this was a badly put together team and a bad coach and I have been right this entire time.

      Getting Melo without getting Chris Paul and without getting a coach that knows what defense is, was rather pointless in every way other then selling tickets.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | February 3, 2012, 10:56 pm
    • That’s my biggest problem with Melo and, by extension, all the other gunners in the league. They absolutely MURDER their team’s offensive flow. It turns into street ball with eight other players passively watching the proceedings.

      I think a lot of it has to do with how kids are being coached these days. If you’re as amazing as NBA players are, you end up playing Teen Wolf ball from the time they’re six years old

      Posted by Daniel Douglas | February 6, 2012, 7:33 am
  5. Welcome. Its nice to see someone else that understands how important DEFENSE IS. I would say its as much the system he is in as it is him but this was also the case in Denver. Yet hes considered a lock for the USA team and they would not have won in 2008 without him. Because of his singular ability to score, when combined with a team around him that plays defense and has elite passers, can make a difference.

    NY needs to fire its coach but that is another story. They need to commit to play defense and because they won’t they will never ever be a title threat.

    I enjoyed the read, thanks for posting it.

    Oh btw where do you rank Melo then?

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 3, 2012, 10:53 pm
  6. nice article Dan. More proof of what you say in last night’s game against the Celts.

    Posted by lemonadestand | February 4, 2012, 7:57 am
  7. I agree Carmelo is disinterested in defensive basketball but to his credit why should he care?? We as fans of the sport tend to care more about the outcome of the game than the players themselves. If we are still going to purchase his jerseys ( i have a melo knicks and nuggets jersey), watch thier games and owners are going to continue to pay them max contracts for doing what they’re doing then please tell me what’s the insentive to put in MORE work? I think we are foolishly assuming that all atheletes are like Micheal Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’neal or Larry Bird and strive to be the greatest. That’s simply not true. Carmelo Anthony clearly has no interest in the being the best and honestly that’s ok. Hey with the little effort he appears to put in he’s had some success. Not a championship but he’s had success. He’s the only player from his draft class to never miss the playoffs (although this year isn’t looking promising), Lebron, Bosh and Wade can’t say that. So with that said, to me ultimately the failure solely lies on the HEAD coach! It’s up to him to get the most out of his players, George Karl did and continues to do so. If the knicks want success as a team, fire the coach, hire someone with balls and a defensive mentality and demand more from Carmelo, or continue to feed his ego, sell tickets and be satisfied with mediocrity like most athletes and coaches seem to be.

    Posted by Ejay | February 6, 2012, 11:34 am
    • The player has to want to play defense EJAY…which even in Denver Melo never really wanted to do. He should be pushing to make himself a better overall player, quite frankly I wouldn’t want to max contract a guy who didn’t think that he always has areas of his game to improve. Say what you want bad about Lebron but he has always worked to improve lacking areas of his game in the off season. Its how hes become one of the best defenders in the NBA along with everything else he brings to the table. Hes not just riding on his abilites like Melo does.

      This is partly on the head coach because its a system thing. NY plays almost no defense as part of its system. The Suns never really did either. They just outscored people.

      And by defense I mean they don’t lock down other teams in key situations.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | February 7, 2012, 8:10 am
  8. Still laughing at the notion that the individual Carmelo Anthony (or any player in any team sport, mind you) is a bum because his team doesn’t have a sterling record. Great players CAN play well on bad overall teams. It’s not a contradiction.

    With that said, Melo is not one of those players. People in sabermetrics have been saying this about Melo for years, and it’s funny that the media and casual public is now catching on.

    Posted by The Realist #2 | February 6, 2012, 2:16 pm


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