Let’s just get this out of the way right now. Carmelo Anthony, as we know him and in general, is an overrated product of the 2003 NBA Draft rivalry. Talented, yes, but overrated with an underline.
If he were drafted in 2002 or 2004, he’d be judged in better balance, but as of right now, his reputation is based upon the mythology of his amateur career in high school, and how he (impressively) led Syracuse to a NCAA title. But no other player in recent years has been given the superstar label so easily coming out of the Draft, save for John Wall, who is struggling mightily. His collegiate national championship was well-earned and his Olympic success is clear, but his work as an NBA player is as promising as it is flawed, and those are the only sides of his coin as a player in the league.
Analysts always talk about his outside shooting sweetness and his rebound rate, which are impressive, but they always fail to mention that he’s more singularly-faceted than anything. He’s basically the same player that he was at Oak Hill. That’s a failure in evolution.
And so now he’s a star player for the New York Knickerbockers. He wanted New York and now he has New York in the palm of his hands, and he’s not capitalizing with his play and the scrutiny is getting to him. He’s not a great team player. Not that he’s a bad team player, but just that his play is sub-standard for non-All-Star-laden teams. If you notice, he shines on the Olympic teams, because of his singularity of skills; he’s asked to be the shooter/scorer and nothing else. Also, because he knows that he has 11 other players that rival his skill set, he actually makes it worth a damn to elevate his play and defer; in the NBA season, because he overvalues his skills and (in-)ability to actually take over games, he sells out his teammates by isolating in nearly every single position.
He’s like a Terminator with a bad CPU — he needs reprogramming, but he won’t go back to Skynet for updates. He’s offline.
In order for the Knicks to survive as a winning basketball team, it must be clear that Melo starts his game from scratch. Make the right pass, shoot the good shot, keep the offense in flow, because we now know that he was breaking the flawed, but effective D’Antoni offense when Jeremy Lin was inserted. We know that Melo was a major reason that Amar’e Stoudemire stopped playing like an All-Star since his arrival (and former coach Mike D’Antoni was a huge factor in that as well). It’s not too surprising that the Denver Nuggets took off once he was gone – Melo bogs an offense down, and he can bog an NBA team down, too. For all of George Karl’s multiple sins as a petty, poorly communicative head coach, when he intimated that Melo wasn’t particularly inspired and upset rhythm of the team, it’s proven to be a truth in New York…sadly.
The time is now for Melo to show and prove. He has little time left. If he doesn’t do what he was brought to do, he will be cast aside and seen as another failure of the New York Knicks system. Another star player who failed to make good in The Big Apple. If he disrupts the Jeremy Lin phenomenon further (already in effect), heads will roll and his will be the one all clamor for.
Make no mistake that the team is clearly imperfect.
Stoudemire is clearly not producing and his athleticism not nearly as bouncy; Lin is like a rookie and is still learning the go-arounds of the NBA game; J.R. Smith has been…J.R. Smith; and the team is sort of a hodge-podge of young and old that is trying to translate skill into wins. Melo isn’t the root of all the Knicks’ problems, but he’s become an on-court problem, and it’s hurting everyone that’s playing in a Knicks uniform.
For most of the season Tyson Chandler has led the Knicks, giving them a formidable defense. But Chandler has taken New York as far as he can. D’Antoni has departed in shame and there are no more scapegoats to take the blame. The ball is in Carmelo Anthony’s hands to live up to his reputation. And if there is any doubt about Melo being able to change for the better, he may be better elsewhere.