Believe me when I say that I was skeptical of the Carmelo Anthony trade to the New York Knicks. Trading three very good young players for another elite scorer who doesn’t pass or play defense is not a recipe for success.
After a rocky start, Amare Stoudemire had been playing the best basketball of his career until the Melodrama. Then, due to playing too many minutes for most of the season, he kind of just let Melo run the show. Chemistry wasn’t really evident. That continued right into the playoffs until Amare got hurt and the Knicks were swept in the first round by Boston.
But I saw something very special in that series. In game 2, with Amare out with an injury, Carmelo Anthony caught fire the second half of the game. I watched that game, and every time he touched the ball that second half you expected him to score, and he basically did. As he rained down threes and drove to the hoop like a freight train possession after possession on his way to 42 points and 17 rebounds, something became clear to me: LeBron might not be the best pure scorer in the league. With the rest of his team struggling, Melo carried his team to the end of the game, when they eventually lost 96-93.
So what? You probably knew Carmelo was the most underrated overrated player already. But what makes this different from Denver is that I saw Stoudemire do the same thing December 15 versus the Boston Celtics. He shot 15-22 for 39 points. He even dropped in a 3 pointer as time expired that sent Spike Lee back to his John Starks homeboy days, running out onto the court yelling who-knows-what at the Celtics bench. Too bad the basket didn’t count and the Knicks lost 116-118.
So what I’m saying is, no team in the NBA (besides Third Degree Burn) has the scoring power that the New York Knicks have. I’m saying this is a super-team waiting to happen.
They have very good defenders in Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, and first round pick Iman Shumpert. They have a quality point guard and shooter in Chauncey Billups. Ronny Turiaf has a ridiculous hair-beard combo. They have scoring potential off the charts.
I’ve heard all of the advanced scoring statistics. Stoudemire and Anthony need to dominate the ball to be effective, they can’t play in a system, they don’t take quality shots. Sure, that may used to have been the case. But these two guys are what kids like to call ballers. They just get basketball; they naturally excel at it. So is there any reason that they can’t learn to play together? It took the Heat (Third Degree Burn) all season to figure it out, but when they did they were a championship caliber team. If Amare and Melo can develop a chemistry this offseason like so many great duos have, how could they be stopped? How would you defend a pick and roll with those guys? They can both shoot and can both drive. You can’t cover them both and not leave someone open for three (Heat example: James Jones). If they could have Manning to Harrison-like chemistry they would be an unstoppable scoring unit. I don’t think the rest of the NBA realizes what kind of team New York could be. Hopefully the Knicks do.
By the way, I hear something about Chris Paul being a free agent sometime soon…..