Carmelo Anthony is one of the most talented players in the entire NBA. While Amare Stoudemire was responsible for bringing excitement to the Knicks fan base it's Anthony that is the unquestionable leader of the New York Knicks. How he goes, so does the team. Last season, partially because of injuries and partially because of matchups and strategy, Anthony saw a lot of time playing power forward. Because of his athleticism and speed he was able to thrive down on the lower block. However, now that Stoudemire is healthy and the Knicks have such a deep roster, Anthony is looking forward to playing his natural position and leaving his power forward days behind.
Carmelo Anthony has been a dominant force in the NBA since being drafted third overall in the 2003 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets. At 6'8", 230 pounds he is well sized to play his natural position of small forward but undersized to play the power forward position.
Anthony has been a star at every level he's played. He was a consensus NCAA All-American First Team, the Big East Rookie of the Year, the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player and an NCAA champion in 2003.
After leaving college, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2004. He was the NBA Rookie Challenge MVP in 2005. He's been named an All-NBA Third Team player four times (2006, 2007, 2009, 2012). He was named to the All-NBA Second Team in 2010. He's also been an NBA All-Star five times (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012).
He's been very successful. That's not even counting his international play on the USA Team where he's helped win three bronze and three gold medals. He's played at all levels at a high level and has accomplished all of those things as a small forward.
"Right now, we have guys in that position. We want to keep it like that," Anthony said Monday when asked about playing more power forward this year. "I'd rather play my natural position then go down there and play the 4, the 5 and things that I don't really want to do. So with the guys that we have now, I find that we're definitely that much more effective."
When asked if he meant that, as long as his teammates remain healthy, his preference is to play the wing, Anthony said, "Absolutely."
Can Anthony to be a dangerous weapon playing power forward? Absolutely. Not only is he a matchup problems against slower defenders but he also has more success on the defensive end against the slower forwards as compared to the quicker players on the wing. That being said, the Knicks three highest paid players are Anthony, Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Who are the Knicks going to sit so Anthony can play power forward?
In 13 games starting at power forward last season (during Stoudemire's absence), Anthony averaged 30 points per 36 minutes on 50.5 percent shooting, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Knicks' offensive rating with Anthony at power forward was 108.9.
In 42 games at small forward, Anthony averaged 21.8 points per 36 minutes on 40.1 percent shooting and the Knicks' offensive rating (a measure of points scored per 100 possessions) was 100.4.
The truth is, it's likely the Knicks will have to find a healthy mix of Anthony playing small forward and power forward. Depending on the matchup, the Knicks may have to play small with Anthony at power forward and Stoudemire at center. For defensive reasons, Stoudemire could sit and Anthony could play power forward while Chandler plays center.
That being said, Anthony will spend most of his time on the wing. If the Knicks are to succeed and the offense is going to work everyone is going to have to play together. Anthony is going to have to trust his teammates. He and Stoudemire are going to have to learn how to mesh and make some sacrifices for one another.
That means Stoudemire needs to learn how to play more in the low post. Stoudemire and Anthony need to not only pass the ball to one another but defer to other teammates as well. Anthony needs to stop stalling with the ball and keep the ball moving around the floor.
Every player needs to be willing to play where they are needed on the floor. That could mean Jason Kidd seeing some time as a shooting guard, Iman Shumpert seeing some time at small forward, Anthony playing power forward, Stoudemire playing center, Marcus Camby playing power forward and more.
The Knicks goal is clear. Most of the players on the Knicks are older. They are on the final stretch of their careers. There's nothing wrong with that. They can still play. In fact, these players are probably more focused than younger more talented players around the league who worry about individual awards and endorsements and other things besides winning. The New York Knicks are about solidifying their legacy. It's time for all of their players to sacrifice to get to where they want to be. It's time for Anthony, as the team leader, to lead by example and play how and where he's needed to bring a championship back to Madison Square Garden.
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