Interesting read from Beckley Mason and one that I feel is a compelling argument. And it could very well be the reason why the Knicks struggle with Amar’e and Melo on the floor together.
Let’s face it, if the Knicks can’t figure this out it’s going to be another frustrating season.
This is the essence, the very backbone, of what the Knicks need to figure out in order to take the next step in the Eastern Conference.
Lineup data from Basketball Value confirms it. With Anthony at the four and Tyson Chandler in the middle the Knicks were very productive. Ironically enough, for all he did to force his way to New York, Anthony managed to join a team where he plays the same position as the other player with a huge salary, Stoudemire.
Anthony’s defense also gets a boost from playing against power forwards more accustomed to tussling in the paint than sprinting around screens on the perimeter (not to mention playing for smaller stints to avoid fatigue). His body and game is built for power and quickness, not sustained speed, and his lack of range on defense is just not a big problem if the player he’s guarding rarely ventures out to the 3-point line.
Against Spain, Anthony hunted shots early in transition, raced the wing for midrange jumpers, crashed the offensive glass in transition and spaced to the corner for spot-up 3s. It isn’t hard to imagine him making the same plays in New York, because he has. But keep in mind the many of the buckets he got against Spain came off of the hard work of guys like LeBron James and Chris Paul.
On Team USA, Anthony is primarily a finisher. All Olympics, he might not run a single pick-and-roll as the ball handler — something he regularly does with Stoudemire and Chandler on the court. That role seems to suit him best.
This is the spacing issue that forced the Knicks to play dump and wait ball. Amar’e needs to learn how to consistently make the 15 foot elbow jumper, but the point is made can Melo be a primary screener and can Amar’e learn how to play this “Olympic” style.
I think it’s unfair to brand Melo and say he plays the same position as Amar’e. If Amar’e played the 5 with Melo at the 4 and James, Bryant and Paul Amar’e would be off the charts effective. The Euro game is not even close to the NBA style often controlled by officials. I do think that it would behoove Mike Woodson to integrate this style and why the addition of Marcus Camby helps because he can make jumpers and spread the floor.
Is Melo a power forward? By definition absolutely. Is he an NBA 4? Is Amar’e?
Two questions that Woodson needs to figure out in training camp because they MUST find a way to play their best basketball with Melo, Amar’e and Chandler all on the floor at once.
Frankly, I think Amar’e would do well to take on the Kenyon Martin-type roll that K-Mart thrived at in Denver. Melo had success with Martin, Camby and Birdman.