Ryan Flynn – Sports Editor –
For the draft class of 2003, this is year 10 in the league. Hard to believe, isn’t it? With nine years and change on the court, the top five picks in that star-studded class have revealed who they really are. They’ve realized their respective NBA destinies.
Top pick LeBron James became one of the, if not the, greatest all-around player in NBA history. Darko Milicic revealed himself to be a bust, plain and simple. Dwyane Wade showed that he’s a true winner, and the best wingman this side of Scottie Pippen. Chris Bosh showed that he’s a very good player who’s incapable of being the man, making the playoffs just twice during his time in Toronto: both first round sweeps.
But, what do we make of Anthony? He’s good for 25 points a game, seven boards, lackadaisical defense and a couple of off-balance three’s that may or may not go in.
He’s one of the best scorers of his era, only he doesn’t have a single scoring title. He’s one of the top ten players in the league, except that he has the lowest playoff winning percentage of any player in NBA history.
So, the question is: does having Carmelo Anthony on your team actually help you win?
Recent evidence says yes. Melo is playing power forward for the Knicks, basically taking on the role of Bron-Bron Lite and is the alpha dog on a 9-3 New York team that for the most part has looked really good this season. Anthony played the four spot for long stretches only one other time in his career: at the Olympics. Anyone else remember Melo scoring 37 points in 14 minutes?
In my opinion, I keep him there. The wear and tear of playing power forward night in and night out at 6’8, 230 probably sucks. In stretches, they should move him back to the three spot so he can take Chase Budinger’s lunch money on the low block.
Like Kobe and AI before him, Anthony is always going to isolate a little too much. He’s always going to have a quick trigger. Playing power forward gives him the option to blow-by his opponent, which leads to better shots (duh) and assures he doesn’t fall in love with the jumper. It also encourages the double-team, which, to Melo’s credit, has led to some really great ball movement by the boys in orange and blue
When they inevitably screw the whole thing up by moving Amare Stoudemire back into the starting lineup this might all become moot, but for now, Melo is in a role that maximizes his talents. He’s got a defensive-minded (and really underrated) coach in Mike Woodson who has him playing at least some semblance of D, and he’s in a position to put his scoring prowess to best use.
In the end, he’s never going to be an all-time great. And he’s probably got the dumb luck of being born in an era where he might not get a legitimate shot at a ring.
He can still hope Chris Paul opts out of his contract next year and makes good on his promise to join the Knicks, but in all likelihood, Melo’s biggest mistake might have been choosing the wrong friends. (Stoudemire and Paul instead of Bosh and Wade)
So, no, the Knicks aren’t real title contenders. They can beat any team on any given night, but the Heat in a seven game series? I don’t see it. But, in the meantime, Melo can keep doing what he’s doing by optimizing his talents and playing a really good style of hoops.
That, and he can hope LeBron James really likes baseball.