by - March 16, 2012 - - 4 Comments »

*Update: So far so good for Mike Woodson. The Knicks coaching change could turn out to be the right move for the wrong reason.*

This is not a Mike D’Antoni defense piece. If D’Antoni had been fired after last year’s playoffs, I would’ve thought it a bit unfair but wouldn’t have batted an eye. And if D’Antoni was canned after the Knicks 8-15 start, I would’ve understood. He had up until that point failed to win with the combination of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.

But then something happened. Linsanity, you may have heard of it. Something we are all apparently supposed to ignore now. Personally, I can’t ignore the team’s level of play during that time period, nor the sheer joy they obviously felt while playing. I also refuse to dismiss it as a total fluke.

I was there for Jeremy Lin’s breakout game. It wasn’t what he did, it was how he did it. I had to be in the building the next game to make sure what I saw was real. Well, it continued for a nine game stretch. It appeared that the Knicks had struck oil. A team devoid of a point guard had found one who was cheap, through a unique combination of factors was a marketing dream and who just happened to be a perfect fit for their coach’s system. They were playing well and nothing on Earth was more fun to watch.

Then Melo returned. I wasn’t one of those guys who thought he would mess it up. No, I was pondering just how good the team could become. After all, they were essentially replacing Billy Walker with Carmelo Anthony. As Lin’s production would inevitably come down, Carmelo would pick up the slack and do what he was brought in to do.

Well, it didn’t work out that way. Not at all. The numbers are staggering. Excluding Wednesday’s win over Portland, since 2/20 the Knicks averaged 109.8 points per 100 possessions with Anthony on the bench, 97.6 per 100 with him on the floor. And that’s not all. They allowed 107.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and just 95.1 per 100 with him sitting. The team was significantly better both offensively and defensively without him. That is not my opinion, that is a fact.

Those numbers cannot be brushed aside, particularly when you couple them with what I was watching. Maybe Mike D’Antoni’s system was not the right fit for Melo. But I’m not sure he ever tried to fit it. I watched a guy who was not giving his all. A guy who refused to dive for loose balls, who didn’t run back hard on defense, who seemingly deliberately broke the scheme in what amounted to somewhat of an on court mutiny. And that’s not even factoring in his mannerisms and body language. He said all the right things without ever backing them up with the correct actions.

It was painfully obvious that he was the one guy not buying into D’Antoni’s system. Even more obvious that he and D’Antoni were not going to coexist. And it was relayed to me that Carmelo would do things like skip shootaround and hit the showers before D’Antoni addressed the team following a game. Those are not the actions of a superstar.

Forgetting superstar actions, he has also lacked superstar production (if that title even befits him), far from it. As of now, Anthony is averaging a career low in points per game and field goal percentage and is producing at a paltry rate in isolation plays, the type of plays he has apparently been craving. He has played poorly, plain and simple.

Perhaps, this change was needed. Mike Woodson has preached the word accountability, something Mike D’Antoni was never good at enforcing. D’Antoni just expected guys to do to the right thing, a player’s coach in the truest sense, as in a way, he allowed the player’s to coach themselves. Which doesn’t work when one of your best players is setting a bad example. Perhaps a more regimented system, a tougher coach, one that he feels believes in him more than the previous one is what Carmelo and the team required.

Although, I think it’s just as likely that Melo is simply not as good as advertised. Something I always feared. I hoped a move to the team and city of his choice would maximize his talents. After all, he was a part of 50-win Denver teams and he did win a Gold Medal and a National Championship. I feared he was simply a volume scorer who doesn’t bring much else to the table. A player with an attitude that would remind many of the Stephon Marbury era Knicks. A star in name only.

It’s now time for Melo to show and prove. He has no more excuses. Otherwise, we may look back at all this as the time when the Knicks struck oil and plugged the hole themselves. Because when Mike D’Antoni and the team parted ways, the Knicks elected to put all their eggs in the Carmelo Anthony basket. You just hope when it’s all said and done, there are still some eggs left.

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4 Responses to “Carmeltdown”

  1. Kyle says:

    Hey Lundberg, big time listener of you and really enjoyed this read. I think the main point here is exactly how your wrapped it up : No more excuses. Carmelo, Stat, everyone has to show why they were paid all of this money. It is truly put up or shut up time, with the scapegoat in coach D’antoni stepping down.
    Just wanted to bring up a solid point here, I really think Stat is on his way back. Everyone, including himself, would say that he had a horrible first half. It involved his brother’s death, his back injuries, and his stamina just wasn’t there. He seemed, for lack of a better word, in slow motion. It wasn’t long ago when you would check the game log and see that Amar’e started off the game 2 for 9, with a couple points. As of late, his efficiency has gone through the roof in comparison to early season stat. His jumper looks nice, he is raising up for dunks, and he is running up and down the floor. If only he could play some D … :( , Thanks again for the great write up, I will always be reading your stuff

  2. Fahim says:

    Great article, listen to you guys at work all the time. Keep up the good work.

  3. MikeNitro94 says:

    This is what I’ve been saying all along! I love this article but it’s like a little too late. You guys have been giving him the benefit of the doubt since he got here. Last years playoffs proved to me all I needed to see from him. No defense, bad attitude, terrible end of game decisions and not to mention a drop in STATS game as well as Fields’. I knew exactly what we were gonna get because I have cousins who are just like Melo. You may say that’s nonsense but I’m telling you I know those kind of dudes. They have that world against me attitude. It’s ok for the hood but not in a team sport like basketball. In D’Antoni’s last game I paused my screen at one point and asked my wife to come look at Melo’s face after a huddle. That look has been on his face since he got here. He is not a championship player by any stretch. The fact that people made such a big deal to get this man and barely made a peep for Dwight Howard, is one the biggest puzzles in all of this to me. Linsanity seems like years ago to me. I don’t know how to feel even if we start to win with a guy on my team I never wanted. I think you guys should started making noise about this a long time ago, when something could have been done about it. Thanks for this article though, it makes me feel like I’m not the only one who sees the real Melo

  4. Shonn Frank says:

    Mike Nitro–yup. I did the same thing….looking at Melo’s face during a TO. Ridiculous. I was against the DNToni Hire, but more against Melo. Also, when he sucker punched MCollins didn’t help. All I know is since we gave him his way (something he says he never wanted. lol) he has seized the moment—-scoring, um 16 and 12!

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