With Carmelo Anthony set to play the power forward against opposing teams that run a small ball lineup while Amar’e Stoudemire is out for a good chunk of the regular season, I want to look at the possibility of the Knicks running multiple pick-and-rolls as well as pick-and-pops between Raymond Felton and Carmelo throughout each of the upcoming games.
It’s already been proven, statistically, on a number of occasions by a number of people that Melo simply plays the best basketball at the four. However this usually compliments his isolation scoring, his defense against power forwards as opposed to small forwards, and how he drags one of the opposing team’s big men out of the paint to create cutting lanes. rtarely is Carmelo’s pick-and-roll/pop game ever talked about, because well, it’s rarely seen.
Last season, Anthony was the pick man only 22 times, however in the 18 shot attempts he put up, none of them were three-pointers and he made 11 of them. This was a 61% shooting percentage, and it kept Anthony away from the three-point arc for the most part (he put up a few long twos), which is always a good thing. Watching these plays now, Anthony slipped towards the basket instead of planting himself as the screener most of the time. In fact in the few times Anthony truly committed to keeping in place as a pick, he usually drifted to the perimeter to shoot a jumper. This is not necessarily a bad thing, if Anthony finds himself open.
As for Felton, he ran the pick-and-roll/pop with Amar’e Stoudemire to perfection two seasons ago in his time in New York. Handling the ball through a pick was the majority of Raymond’s offense in his brief stretch as a Knick. When it came to Felton looking for his shot in this situation, he wasn’t all that impressive, shooting 40% from the field and 30% from downtown. However he was decently efficient, with only 13% of his pick-and-rolls/pops resulting in a turnover. Stoudemire took huge advantage of these plays with Felton, shooting 55% from the field as a pick man. With Stoudemire however, the play was much easier to defend than it would be with Anthony, as Carmelo’s jumper is far more deadly than Amar’e's.
The success of this play between Carmelo and Felton can’t even be projected fully quite yet, as the word is not yet clear on whether or not Anthony is content with even playing at the four until Amar’e returns in about 20 or so games, let alone taking a bit of a bruising by setting pick after pick. Mike Woodson has said he will look to Melo to play the power forward against smaller teams while Stoudemire is tending to his knee, and it will be interesting to see how Anthony will adapt his game at a position he just truly started playing late last season. For this to even work well, it would require Raymond Felton to penetrate with much more ferocity than last year, and for him to become much more consistent with his three-point shot. Anthony would have to bear with occasionally actually setting the pick, not slipping inside before even making contact with the ball handler’s defender. This should be a play to look out for whenever Anthony is playing the four in a small lineup, even if he is not setting the picks for Felton.