Just three weeks ago the Knicks were on top of the world. With star forward Carmelo Anthony sidelined and Amare Stoudemire struggling to score, fans thought the Knicks were heading for tough times, but they knew little of Jeremy Lin. The speedy ball moving point guard reignited a Knicks squad that really didn’t feature a superstar but rather relied on team play to win games. That formula helped the team storm back into contention while at the same time giving the faithful fans a lot to be excited about. However, here we are a few weeks later and the Knicks look worse than before Linsanity began. The team’s defense has looked non-existent and the return of Melo has done nothing but affect chemistry in a negative way. As a fan it’s been hard to watch recently as the team’s play has many, including myself, wondering what’s wrong. Everyone thought that the emergence of Lin, coupled with the proven scoring of Stoudemire and Anthony would result in New York being very dangerous come playoff time. Instead the headlines are all about the dynamic of the team and the inability of Lin and Anthony to coexist.
When Carmelo Anthony wasn’t in the lineup the team played like a team, giving top flight effort each and every night and playing like they had something to prove. Since his return the team has seemed relegated to allowing Anthony to go isolation a large percentage of the time opposed to allowing Jeremy Lin create for everyone. The results are clear, something has changed and sadly enough the issue may lie with Melo. Undoubtedly a great scorer, Carmelo is a rare type of player that can score on his own, and seemingly at will. However, one thing Anthony certainly is not is a great passer, or a passer at all. In his career he is averaging a meager 3.1 assists per game, which is unacceptable for a player of his stature. When you consider the fact that LeBron James averages almost 7 assists per game in his career (6.9 APG to be exact), and that LeBron and Melo are very similar in their habits, you can see that Carmelo is really only creating scoring opportunities for himself.
Assists per game is a very telling statistic for how a guy plays the game, and the way this impacts his teammates is extremely evident in the way the Knicks have been playing of late; they quite frankly appear disinterested. When Jeremy Lin was running the show, role players like Landry Fields and Jared Jeffries were being rewarded for effort plays like cutting to the basket or hustling in transition; now they are simply audience members watching The Melo’ Show. It may seem crazy to blame a player as skilled as Anthony for the teams struggles, but that’s exactly what I’m doing and it makes a lot of sense. The dynamic that has been created is that the team must run the offense through Carmelo and the aggressiveness that made Lin so effective in his first 10-15 games is all but lost. If the Knicks continue to rely on one man imposing his will, as opposed to a team first approach, their recent slide will become a standard in New York. Carmelo must be willing to work through Lin, and sacrifice a chunk of his scoring for the better of his team. The Knicks have a talented squad but without a full team being involved they will go nowhere. We’ve seen how good they can be and we’ve seen how bad they can be in the matter of just a month; now let’s see how the team reacts because clearly something has been amiss during this 5 game losing streak.
Who Do You Blame For The Slide? Can Anthony and Lin Coexist? Thoughts, Let Me Hear Em!