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#KnicksState: Part 3 - Identifying Carmelo Anthony

Who is Carmelo Anthony? Seriously speaking, who is he? Depending on who you ask, you may get a different answer to that very question. Folks in Denver will act like he doesn't exist, those in Syracuse believe he invented sliced bread, and those here in New York City have been torn on him since he landed at JFK airport.

Everyone has an opinion on the forgotten superstar from the 2003 NBA Draft, and it conflicts so much that Carmelo has really become an anomaly.

Personally, I've been on record as stating that I am not in love with Melo's game. He is a superior talent, but there are times where his lack of getting others in the flow of the game hurts his team. We've heard the argument that he doesn't have anyone to play with, but that in itself lends into the constant identity of Carmelo Anthony the basketball player.

#KnicksState: Part One - Rational Look Back
#KnicksState: Part Two - Rational Look Forward

As the most important piece of the Knicks, and the most vital part to any run they plan on making next year, I wanted to lay out the pros, cons, and even myths about Melo. He has become in my eyes the most fascinating athlete today now that the image of Alex Rodriguez (Homeless: A-Rod's Legacy is Defined) is settled. And quite frankly, A-Rod can still be dissected.

Nonetheless, let's get to it, beginning with the positives:
  • Carmelo is the best overall scorer in the game - Some may claim it's Kevin Durant, but Melo can score behind the arc, beat you off the dribble, take you in the post, and even has a deadly mid-range game. Plus he's strong as a bull. Whether he is the most efficient scorer is up for debate.
  • NCAA National Champion - Many NBA fans and New Yorkers hate hearing this as the common response is, "So what? So is Mateen Cleaves!" But let's give the man credit for the accomplishment of leading Syracuse to their first National Championship. 
  • Top Ten NBA Player in the NBA - Some will try to degrade Melo, but he is one of the best players in the league. 
  • Two-time Gold Medalist - In both Olympics, he proved he can play with others, within a system, and even pass the ball. 
  • An underrated rebounder. Melo's ability to follow up his own shot his amazing. His ability to explode is quite impressive each time he does it. 

Now, the negatives: 
  • Only known for his scoring, which is rarely efficient. Has had reputation of taking plays off, including on the defensive end. Many believe he should be a better overall player than he currently is. 
  • Hasn't done anything since Syracuse. Ten years as a pro and Melo has no championships, no MVPs, has been out of the first round only twice, and has never reached an NBA Finals. In fact, all he has ever done is been an All-Star. Not very "superstar-like" when compared to those in his draft class (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh), as well as the other alpha males that rule the NBA (Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant). 
  • Has the reputation of being a ball hog, ball stopper, coach killer, and of being jealous of others. George Karl has been highly critical of his game, even after he left; he got Mike D'Antoni fired; and he was never thrilled with "Linsanity" clouding his stardom here in New York City. 
  • Doesn't make average players around him better. Many will claim he's never had good teams, but I simply do not buy that. Melo has had better teams in Denver than others have had. At some point, the onus has to be on you. 

And of course, there are always the myths and baseless comments about him: 
  • "He is not LeBron James" - This one kills me every time. Every. Single. Time. It seems that Carmelo's biggest crime is being in the same draft with LeBron James. I never understand why NOT being LeBron is a strike against Carmelo, but unfortunately, it's one of the things he will have to battle until he wins one. 
  • "Carmelo is selfish" - I think a lot of this stems from his obvious jealousy of Jeremy Lin as well as his inefficient shooting. 
  • "Carmelo will never win a championship" - I hate this comment by those who make it. People have said the same statement about countless players, most recently, Alex Rodriguez, another star-crossed enigma. Heck, some said it about LeBron James. Look, when things are going bad in sports, it's not always as bad as it seems unless you are the Charlotte Bobcats, then it is. Same goes for Carmelo Anthony who still has time to modify his game, for the Knicks to put better talent around him, and for the competition (and luck) around the NBA to change. 

And finally, there are the comments and results from scouts and basketball experts on Melo:
  • Of course, there is the comments from college coaches back in 2003 on Melo, with some even calling him a better prospect that LeBron James. Always fun to read stuff like this
  • And then there is the current scouting analysis from Even this scouting analysis lends itself  to the confusing reality that is Carmelo Anthony. 
  • And then there is the recent analysis from a scout on Melo's play this season: 
    • "If you were to count hockey assists, he would have a lot more assists. He doesn't get enough credit for that. He became a much better passer and he was much more unselfish"
    • "If you had coaches show him every clip of when he can look out on a drive, there would be a lot of clips of that. He could get better at driving middle and kicking out to the wings when it’s open"
    • "At times he just gives up on plays a little bit, as opposed to being locked in all the time. It's not that he can't do it. He can be a really good defensive player. He can defensive rebound, he can keep guys in front, he can pressure the ball. So when you see him [give up], you become a little disappointed because you know he can do that. He can do anything on the basketball floor. He sort of cheats the game a little bit in that regard."
  • And here are some other comments from others around the game such as Mike Breen and heralded sports writer, Mike Lupica:
    • "You hope eventually it becomes more important to him to win a championship than to be a star player and right now its starting to go into where its, lets do it my way regardless if that's the best way" said Breen.
    • Lupica chimed with his opinion, "Everything the Knicks are, everything they will be, is now built around Carmelo Anthony. Maybe you think you can build a championship team around him. They thought the same thing in Denver and they were wrong, and I believe they are going to be wrong here."

All I have to do is shoot! This is easy!

What's actually funny, is that after writing this, I recently had a long discussion about Carmelo Anthony with several basketball student-athletes at work, a few security guards, and an assistant basketball head coach. The overall consensus was just what you expected - a mixed bag. 

Some blamed him for the Knicks woes, more specifically the stalling offense. And some felt he needed more help around him. The issue of Jeremy Lin came up who had the Knicks playing the most cohesive basketball they've played over the last three years during "Linsanity". And of course, it's an undisputed understanding that everyone knows Melo made sure Lin wasn't brought back out of sheer jealousy. 

Some felt Melo was overrated, with one basketball player claiming he thought Melo was best as the Robin to someone else's Batman. He pointed to Melo's superb play in the Olympics as evidence where he simply had to be a jump shooter. 

This part of the #KnicksState series wasn't written to decide what Melo is, but to simply bring to light what he isn't - and that is an athlete is truly defined. Anthony is someone who is as enigmatic, controversial, and debatable as they come in professional sports today. The argument can go on and on, and on, and on regarding Carmelo Anthony. 

The breakdown above is exactly what Carmelo's reputation, image, and perception is. All three dynamics, and all of the pointers combined. Everyone's perception of him as a basketball player lends itself to a few of those pointers described above. Some believe in fewer of them, others more of them, and a few all of them. Making it that more confusing. 

Nonetheless, that is Carmelo Anthony. Anomaly. Enigma. Confusing.

If the Knicks plan on improving their team for the 13-14 NBA season, it will all begin with clarifying the definition and perception of Carmelo Anthony.

What do you think of Anthony? 

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