Zach Lowe at Grantland has an excellent piece detailing all the gambles the Knicks have made with Carmelo Anthony playing power forward that have almost uniformly paid off. The whole thing is well worth a read, but the part that most impressed was in regards to Anthony’s ability to hold up defending players on the low block.
Opponents are indeed going at Melo in the post, but they’re mostly shooting themselves in the foot; Melo’s head-to-head assignments are shooting just 7-of-20 on post-up shots and turning the ball over on nearly 30 percent of those plays — a staggering number, per Synergy Sports. The same thing happened last season, when guys posting up Melo shot just 11-of-37 and coughed it up on 26 percent of the possessions they finished.
Brian DiMennaThis alignment with Carmelo at the four was a definite gamble, with the hope being that Anthony’s ability to use his quickness to exploit bigger power forwards on the other end would make up for his having to guard opposing big men. So far, his defense has been such that the matchup has ultimately been a plus on both ends. Obviously, that has a lot to do with the overall quality of the help defense the Knicks have enjoyed, but it definitely is confirmation that all of the plaudits Melo has been enjoying are certainly well deserved.
You also just have to be impressed about the way in which he’s stepped up to the challenge of guarding bigger players. For a guy whose team relies as heavily on his offensive game as the Knicks do with Anthony, I could imagine it’s tough to look on the other end and be like, “And I’ll be guarding who? Those rather giant, angry looking men across the way? And I’ll be doing that for how long? The entire game? Well, OK … that’s really … OK, fine.”
Obviously, we saw a team like Memphis, with the size and strength to exploit it do just that, but you still really have to appreciate the yeoman’s work Carmelo’s put in so far this season on the defensive end.