Change is not easy. Carmelo Anthony seems to be finding that out right now. Before February 4th, the entire Knicks offense revolved around Melo’s isolation-heavy game. Suddenly, he’s being forced to adapt in a post-Linsanity era.
Currently, the Knickerbocker offense is pretty awkward when Lin and Melo are both on the floor. Through March 7, the Lin/Fields/Melo/Amare/Chandler starting unit is the least efficient on whole team, according to Basketball Value.
In a little over 79 minutes on the court together, this new starting squad scored 151 points and allowed 168, translating to a offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) of 93.2 and a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 103.1.
After the Knicks lost to Dallas on Wednesday, Melo acknowledged the fact that the offense is not where the team needs it to be right now:
“I think any time you go from the early part of the season and having the ball and distributing and now waiting for it to come to me, it’s quite an adjustment for myself”
The good ol' days?
Clearly, Melo is uncomfortable. And like he admits, some of this is structural: Anthony simply needs the ball in his hands to be effective on offense. He is an isolation player and has been his whole career. Lin and Melo are like two kids bickering over getting the last piece of candy: both gotta have it and will throw a tantrum otherwise.
Coach D’Antoni must play the role of a mediator in hopes that the two can find a way to share and play nice because how far the New York Knicks can go will depend on Carmelo Anthony.
So, what adjustments need to be made moving forward to make this work? Call me an optimist, but I strongly believe it’s about Melo’s attitude. I think Matt Moore over at Eye on Basketball has the right idea. He writes:
The shift needs to continue to be Anthony working to get out of his comfort zone. [Kobe] Bryant has remarked several times about hoping Anthony doesn’t shift his approach due to the criticism. Thing is, that criticism isn’t (always) unwarranted or about devaluing his elite gifts as a scorer. It’s about fit, and flow, and making the Knicks the best they can be.
Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s REALLY weird for the team’s star player to be asked to adjust his game mid season in order to “fit in”. Then again, this whole Linsanity is really weird too. Weird in the sense that both these things like never happen in basketball…ever.
At the end of the day, though, superstars rise to the challenge. They elevate their game and their team’s play at the most critical moments. In the next few weeks, we will find out just how bright Melo’s star shines.