Carmelo Anthony is on an absolute tear.He scored 43 points yesterday and single-handedly beat the Bulls with two ridiculous three-pointers.
Over the last two weeks, he’s been the All-NBA player the Knicks expected him to be when they traded for him last season.
But the underlying reason for Melo’s resurgence should worry Knicks fans — he’s doing all of this while Amar’e Stoudemire is out injured.
The conventional wisdom is that Anthony started dominating immediately after his nemesis Mike D’Antoni quit in mid-March. Melo himself admitted that he hadn’t played with enough energy and focus under D’Antoni.
So D’Antoni left, and Carmelo simply started trying, right?
Not quite. Here are Melo’s numbers:
- Pre-D’Antoni (32 games): 21.2 ppg, 40.0% shooting, 30.8% on threes, 5.9 rebounds, 6.8 FTA per game
- Post-D’Antoni (14 games): 21.9 ppg, 45.3% shooting, 31.4% on threes, 6.6 rebounds, 6.4 FTA per game
This doesn’t take into account Carmelo’s defence, which has been dramatically better since Mike Woodson took over. But offensively, Carmelo has only been slightly more efficient since D’Antoni left, and his numbers are still well below his career averages.
Where you really see the difference in Carmelo’s stats are after March 25 — when Stoudemire went out with an injured back.
But here are the numbers that should really scare that crap out of Knicks fans:
- Post-D’Antoni, with Amar’e (7 games): 14 ppg, 39.4% shooting, 21.7% on threes, 5.4 rebounds, 4.1 FTA per game
- Post-D’Antoni, without Amar’e (7 games): 29.8 ppg, 49.0% shooting, 39.3% on threes, 7.8 rebounds, 8.7 FTA per game
Obviously the sample size is small, but those numbers are jarring.
It basically means that even though Melo is rolling and the Knicks are winning games, the team is still fundamentally broken — their two superstars cannot play together.
When the Knicks traded for Anthony last February, Amar’e was a legitimate MVP candidate and Carmelo was one of the best scorers in the NBA. But in the subsequent 14 months, the two of them simply haven’t been able to coexist. Amar’e and Carmelo have only scored 20+ points in the same game eight times in New York’s 56 games this season. For a comparison, LeBron and Wade have done it 20 times this year.
Carmelo and Amar’e have each had the occasional great game. And they’ve been able to keep the Knicks afloat at around .500. But they have never simultaneously been their superstar selves for any extended period of time.
In short: the Knicks are stuck in the same situation they faced when Carmelo was out injured during Linsanity.
Inserting Amar’e back in the lineup means the Carmelo who mesmerized MSG yesterday may cease to exist.
But Amar’e is so talented, and they’re paying him so much money, that they have to treat him like a superstar if he’s healthy enough to play.
Melo’s run has been thrilling. But the evidence suggests that it’s not permanent, and he’ll only be this good as long as Amar’e is hurt.
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