Look into your crystal ball, and tell us what you see for Carmelo Anthony in 2017.
Fisher-Cohen: If the team plays uptempo, Melo will benefit from the transition threes on which he thrived in his two best seasons in NY. I don’t think, unfortunately, over the course of a season, 32 year old Melo can be the guy who draws the defense and creates opportunities for others every possession. There was only one player age 32+ last season who played 1800 minutes with a BPM over +1.0: Pau Gasol. This is out of 64 total players who accomplished the feat. If Melo’s going to continue as an elite player, sooner rather than later, he’ll need help.
Does he have it? Of the three players the Knicks added to their starting lineup, none had a positive OBPM last season. What really concerns me though is that it’s just so hard to score effectively when you have two guys who aren’t scoring threats from anywhere on the court. The point of ball and player movement is to force defenses to move, but if you’ve got multiple players out there who don’t concern the defense, it makes their rotations so much easier.
If Rose is hurt or visited by some doctors from the Starfleet who restore his athleticism, sure, I could see Melo having a nice season where he matches career highs in efficiency and just scores in lower volume, but the latter at least is a long shot.
Kurylo: An objective person would look at Carmelo Anthony and have a pessimistic outlook for 2017. Over the last 4 years, he’s missed an average of 18 games, his ts% has dropped about 30 points, and his pts/36 is down 5.5 pts. For a player of his scoring frequency, his efficiency is below average. Looking at the 18 players that averaged at least 22.4 pts/36 last year, only 2 had a ts% lower than ‘Melo: Dwayne Wade and the artistic performance that was Kobe Bryant’s last season. (Wait — that was a real athlete actually trying to compete?)
On the other hand Anthony might be making up for his diminished scoring in other areas. He had career highs in rebounds and assists per minute. And he seems interesting in sharing the spotlight with Porzingis, something that he may have had issues with in the past (see: Linsanity).
But it’s hard to argue that this is enough compensation for his decline in his main strength: scoring. Also consider that Anthony’s summer rest was interrupted by the Olympics and that he’s on the wrong side of 30. How can I logically make the case that his production will increase from his last two seasons?
So for Melo I see about 10-15 games missed, a ts% that might be reach 53.0%, and him reaching a level of maturity that previously eluded him.
Plugh: The only thing I can say for sure is that Carmelo Anthony will always get his shots. I feel relatively comfortable saying that Melo will get most of his shots in isolation, as he usually does, and the million dollar question is whether or not he’ll return to the Jason Kidd-era ball movement that we saw work so effectively on the way to 54 wins. The Knicks are clearly going to play faster this season, but we don’t yet know what makeup of plays to expect. Will they run a lot more pick and roll? Will they get comfortable whipping the ball around? Will every possession that extends beyond 10-12 seconds end with a Melo isolation? In principle, that shouldn’t happen given Phil Jackson’s wishes, and Jeff Hornacek’s past coaching philosophy. What’s going to give? You’d hope Melo will bend, if only a little.
His health is going to remain a question for the rest of his career. He’s on the other side of 30 and he’s coming off a busy offseason at the Olympic Games. Everyone loves Olympic Melo, but four years is a long time, and we don’t know how this version of Olympic Melo is going to hold up. One of the upsides to resting Melo from time to time is the emphasis on Kristaps Porzingis as go-to-guy. We’ve already seen it in the preseason as Melo sat out periodically. Porzingis goes from support player to alpha dog and his game really blossoms. My hope is that Melo sits out periodically (DNP-Old) and Porzingis gets to shine.
Gibberman: I understand and think all the concerns brought up above are reasonable, but I think there’s a path for Melo to be more efficient than he was the last two seasons.
The increased pace and more fluid offense will create easier shots than he’s had the last two seasons. According to NBA.com, Anthony shot 38% on catch & shoot threes last year, up from 35% the year before. Playing off of Rose, Jennings and Noah should help push him towards these type of shots.
Even though we didn’t see it much in the preseason, I believe Hornacek will unleash Porzingis and Melo at C/PF together for at least 5-12 minutes every night. Maybe it doesn’t happen right away but either through injuries or just the offense needing a boost it will get there. This will also help Melo be more efficient.
The injuries are an undeniable problem. His defense still isn’t good enough on a consistent basis. Melo has his flaws as a player but that doesn’t mean he can’t play at a high level with a smarter team-wide approach.