Though it hasn’t always led to playoff success, April has always been Carmelo Anthony’s best month, according to Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal. Not only has Anthony produced his best numbers, but his teams have had their greatest success during the month of April as well. Carmelo has averaged 27 points per game in April over his career, on 49% shooting, while his teams have won 73% of their games during the month. But as Herring points out, this hasn’t necessarily led to deep playoff runs:
All of this raises a question, though: If Anthony and his teams peak in April, why do they struggle so much once they reach the playoffs shortly afterward? As it stands, only eight players throughout league history—Dave Bing, Yao Ming, Bob Lanier, Alex English, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and Steve Nash—have made more All-Star Game appearances than Anthony (six) without ever reaching the NBA finals.
Two things stand out when looking at Anthony’s teams in postseason play: They have typically been a lower seed than their opponent (six out of nine times), and as a result, they have often drawn an opponent that has an elite defense.
On average, Anthony’s teams have been knocked out by an opponent that ranks fourth in the league defensively. As such, he has shot 41.9% overall in the postseason—down from 45.6% in the regular season.
The Knicks are clearly peaking right now, and Melo is certainly the biggest reason why. His play over the past couple weeks has been, let’s say, good. I would say he has played well, perhaps even really well, or if you wanted to be a touch hyperbolic, like a golden god amongst men, or something.
Obviously, much of the focus around the rest of this seasons is going to be folks going back and forth over just how good Carmelo Anthony is. How the Knicks perform in the playoffs is going to go a long way in helping some of those same folks determine that answer, as though the guy who dominates April just sort of folds as soon as the calendar turns to May. My own mindset is that that’s kind of silly, we have a really good idea just how good Melo is, and the answer is extremely, and the real question is just how good this Knicks team is, which again may also be extremely.
For whatever reason, great basketball players are routinely judged in the same way that great quarterbacks are, where bounces of the ball or a host of other factors outside of their control define their legacy in terms of championships won. It’s a mindset that sees Joe Flacco emerge suddenly as the highest paid player in the game, while Philip Rivers is auditioning for his future with his own franchise, despite there not being a whole lot that really differentiates the two. That may seem like something of a non-sequiter, but I don’t really think that it is.
Look, I do think Melo needs a big postseason because, quite frankly, his playoff resume is a bit thin, but allowing that history to overshadow what you’re seeing him do night in and night out just seems completely arbitrary and foolish. Melo does have some chinks in the proverbial armor, or things you wish he did better, but he’s also a truly great player by any standard, regardless of how good this Knicks team turns out to be.