(This article was originally written for KnickSwag.com)
So much talk swirled in the off-season about the New York Knicks, and all of the changes that were made to enhance the team. From the unveiling of the renovations at Madison Square Garden, the acquisition of former overall #1 draft pick Andrea Bargnani, to the injection of new energy in rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. A lot of expectations have been placed on this team to achieve at a high rate this year.
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However, after only four games, and in typical New York fashion, the walls are beginning to cave in. Their record has dropped to 1-3, Tyson Chandler, who has been a beast to start the season, dropped with a knee injury, and Carmelo Anthony continues to not drop shots. Before this sounds like a scathing attack of the Knicks Small Forward, keep in mind I really do like Carmelo Anthony and his game. After all, he is from Red Hook where I have worked the past 12 years and have come to love. Oh, he is really from Baltimore you say? Whatever, I have an uncle down there and spent a lot of my upbringing traveling to the Eastern Shore. The point is, I like Melo and I like the Knicks, and I really wish them success. But, the way he is playing these days, that success will continue to amount to early playoff exits, and not the grand prize. If you look solely at the numbers, his career statistics are pretty consistent. He has never been a great shooter from the field, yet he has always put up a ton of shots. As his age increases, so does the distance between himself and the basket. Last season his 414 three-point field goal attempts nearly tripled what he attempted in any of his eleven professional years. When he was traded to New York, he arrived with this notion that he is a great passer. He certainly has the ability, but more times than not, his career three assists per game average is the result of bailing out, as opposed to being a true facilitator.
To sum it all up, he has fallen too in love with the three-point line, and he is not seeing the whole floor. There is an old saying that “passing is contagious,” and that really speaks the truth. Jeremy Lin’s run in the Garden was a prime example. If you really want to see it in action, check out some old Sacramento Kings highlights from the Jason Williams era. While the dunks and three pointers get cheers, it is the passing that really gets the oohs and ahs of the crowd. It also gets every teammate involved and feeling like he is in every play. This current Knicks roster has the pieces to be a transitional team, but too often it becomes stagnant in the hands of Anthony. As long as he continues to play this way you can expect the Knickerbockers to remain just an average team.
There is still over 95% of the season to play, so there is hope things can change. Unfortunately, this is a trend that began well before this year. Is Carmelo Anthony happy being content, or does he wish to truly be elite and lead this team to a ring. As long as he is on this team, that answer will always be directly attached to his play.
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