Regarded as one of the NBA’s most prolific offensive talents, Carmelo Anthony has had no problems scoring in his career. After spending just one season at the University of Syracuse (in which he led the school to its only NCAA Tournament championship), Anthony was selected third in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. A five time NBA All-Star, Anthony has never averaged less than 20.8 points in any of his nine seasons. In his seven full seasons as a Denver Nugget, he led the team to the playoffs each year, including a run to the Western Conference Finals in 2009. In that 2009 season, he set an NBA record for points scored in a single quarter when he went off for 33 points in the third quarter in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Traded to New York midway thru the 2010-11 season, he has been a part of the first two Knicks playoff teams since the 2004 season. Anthony is also a three-time Olympian, winning a bronze medal in 2004 and gold in both 2008 and 2012.
Not the most efficient, but probably the most complete offensive player in the NBA. He can hit the mid-range jumper or post up. When playing small forward, he can body up his usually smaller competition or blow by his defender when playing power forward, making him almost impossible to stop. While not the greatest three-point shooter (career 32%), he still has the ability to get hot from deep. He can get to the free throw line (career 7.8 free throw attempts per game) and make them (81% career free throw shooter). He also has a knack for getting his own offensive rebounds and going back up for a score. Where Anthony falls in trouble at times is his propensity to isolate. Last season, he shot just 37% from isolation and scored just 0.84 points per isolation possessions, ranking 59th in the NBA.
Anthony has the skills to be a good defender but too often displays a lack of interest in playing hard-nosed defense. At times, he doesn’t hustle back on defense, causing mismatches. Other times, his asking for switches causes mismatches as well. If Anthony is going to take the next step to elite status, he must show more interest in his defensive play. Surprisingly, he was a strong post-up defender last season, allowing just 0.52 points per post up possessions and holding player posting up against him to 30% shooting.
Anthony will once again be asked to be the main source of offense for the Knicks this coming season. He must also find co-hesion with Amar’e Stoudemire so that both players can excel for the betterment of the team. However, that has been put to the test in each of the past three seasons for a different number of reasons (trades, the NBA lockout, coaching change, injuries, etc.). Nevertheless, this Knicks team will only go as far as Carmelo Anthony can take them. The question is if Anthony is ready to make the changes in his game that can make his teammates and the team overall better and more dangerous.