Life in Knicks Land is good right about now. The team is on a five game winning streak (which could reach seven after weekend games against the Raptors and Pistons), Amar’e Stoudemire seems to have found his groove (shooting 56% from the floor in 11 March games, and are playing tough defense for new interim coach Mike Woodson (since Woodson’s arrival, only the Pacers on 3/16 have scored over 90 points against New York). Everything is great, right?
Well not quite. Overshadowed by the Knicks winning streak has been Carmelo Anthony’s abysmal shooting. The five-time All-Star is shooting a career low 40% from the field (or .399 for those statisticians out there), and an even more putrid 30% from beyond the arc. The numbers are alarming when you consider Melo entered the 2011-2012 season shooting 46% from the floor over his career. While never the strongest three-point shooter (just 32% for his career entering this season), he did shoot 42% from downtown after being traded to the Knicks in February of last season (53-for-125, in 27 games).
So, what do we attribute to Melo’s lost shooting touch this season? We know that after last season Melo had surgery on both his left knee and elbow. They weren’t for any serious injuries, but it was the first time Melo had any sort of surgery done on him during his NBA career. Could it have be his body adjusting after surgery? Tough to pin in on the surgeries when you consider Melo shot 46% combined in the Knicks two preseason games and first seven regular season games.
Could Melo’s numbers be suffering because of the three-point line? Melo is averaging 3.6 attempts from beyond the arc per game, the second highest total of his career, but making only 30% of them. In Denver, he never shot higher than 37% from three-point range in any given season. However, he had two seasons in Denver (2005-06 and 2006-07) in which he shot under 30% from beyond the arc and still managed an overall field goal percent of 48%.
The problem with Melo this year seems to be the situations in which he chooses to shoot. Melo has always been known to be at his best in isolation situations. However this season, Melo is shooting just 30% from the floor in isolation, good for 113th in the league. Meanwhile, he is shooting 54% when involved in a pick and roll (as the ball handler or roll man). That percentage is the third best in the entire league. His three-point percentage in the pick and roll: 54%. The problem: Melo is in isolation situations 29% of the time, the most of all the scenarios he shoots the ball, while he is only involved in pick and rolls 14% of his time on the floor.
The other scenario in which Melo has excelled (and one which coach Woodson said he would get more of for Melo and Stoudemire) is post-ups. Melo is shooting 44% off of post-ups, 20th best in the entire league. Problem is that Melo has only used the post-up 12% of the time.
Melo has had an off shooting year so far, but he’s excelled in some offensive sets. Hopefully Woodson will impose the post-up and pick-and-roll with ‘Melo, the same way he has imposed accountability on the entire team.