The Knicks as a whole have struggled lately, apparent in their three-game losing streak that was just snapped in a blowout win over New Orleans. There are an abundance of themes in these games that are troubling to have to watch, even in this past win. One being Carmelo Anthony’s abysmal shooting. This comes as a surprise to Knicks fans, possibly the biggest of all in this regression that goes far past a few consecutive losses. In their first ten contests, the Knicks held an 8-2 record. The next ten? 7-3. The next 6-4, and finally we arrive to these past seven games, where the Knicks have a record of 3-4.
But in the most recent of games, Anthony’s shooting has been the most astonishing of detriments to New York, with some rather gross outputs from the leader of this Knicks squad. In the past three contests, Melo has shot 23.1%, 43.8%, and 36% from the field. Now, the decrease in defensive effort, redundantly plaguing injuries and poor offensive ball movement were all very much predictable, but Carmelo Anthony suddenly becoming unable to score at a decent clip? Unfathomable when you look at the start he’s had to the season: 29.3 points a night on 46.5% shooting from the field, 42.9% shooting from downtown, an OffRTG of 115 which marks the best of his career, three 40+ point games, eleven 30-39 point games and not to mention a P.E.R. of 26, which is good for fourth-best in the entire league.
So, what’s the issue? To put it simply, Carmelo’s jumper has been off. He’s been getting the same looks, but they have not been falling. This is hardly a cause of alarm because of two reasons. One, shooters always eventually regain their stroke. And two, Anthony is an amazing all-around scorer, so this shooting slump of his shouldn’t take away a huge part of his ability to put points on the board for the orange and blue. But it has.
Carmelo’s been determined to shoot his way out of this slump, keeping him out of the paint, off the foul line, and allowing opposing perimeter defenders to stay at home on the Knicks’ lethal three-point marksmen. This is evident when you look at where Anthony’s shots have come from in his (Anthony did not play in the Knicks loss to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday) past three games. Against Boston, 23.1% of his shot attempts were in the paint. Against Chicago, 43.8% of his shot attempts were in the paint. And against the Hornets, 16% of his shot attempts were in the paint. This season, on average, Anthony’s taken 35% of his shots in the paint. It’s not a coincidence that Melo’s best shooting night of these past three contests came against the Bulls, when nearly half of his shot attempts were down low by the basket.
Furthermore, Anthony has averaged eight free-throw attempts per game in these last three, which is only 0.2 attempts more than his season average. His refusal to attack the rim with his jumpshot being as awful as it’s been lately has done nothing but hurt the Knicks, and hinder not only their offense, but also their defense. More long range misses means long defensive rebounds for the opposition, which sparks fast-breaks that this team is either too worn-out or too lazy to defend.
With the mid-season mark right around the corner, the time remaining for the Knicks to remedy their issues is shortening. A full, healthy roster is in sight and for it to be successful in the long run, New York must return to the effort, intensity, and poise that gave them a 15-5 start to this season. It begins with the leader of the team, Carmelo Anthony.