The New York Knicks still see Carmelo Anthony as their best player, but they know things need to be easier for him next season. Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings and Kristaps Porzingis are supposed to help with that.
Anthony had a tendency himself to do too much on his own. Maybe it’s because he didn’t trust most of his teammates, maybe it’s simply who he is, and the work has to be more with him than expecting the arrival of new players to change his style. Phil Jackson spoke about Anthony simply doing too much, whether it’s slowing the play down by bringing the ball up the court himself, taking inbound passes. It’s not just stating that Anthony needs more talent around him (which the Knicks hope they managed to add sufficiently), but also a jab at Anthony.
Last season was the fourth consecutive year of Anthony’s scoring average dropping, in both complete average and per minute. He scored only 21.8 points per game, his lowest since his second season in the league. The Knicks are hoping they can play him less than 35 minutes a night (he had 35.1 per game last season), and especially give other players more possessions of ball handling, making things a little bit easier and less taxing on Anthony, who is still an extremely talented scorer, but isn’t getting any younger, coming off another summer of international basketball.
If Rose dodges the bullet of the civil suit and the LAPD investigation into an alleged rape, he should be extremely helpful for the Knicks. He might not be as good as he used to be before his knee injuries, but under the right guidance his passing skills will show, and taming his decision making could turn him into an excellent point guard for the Knicks, even if not one who is at MVP-level. Jennings was always a volume scorer and nothing more, but the Knicks that type of offense from someone, coming off the bench.
And then there’s Porzingis, who already showed more than just flashes last season. He also lives in some of Anthony’s comfort zone. It’ll be interesting to see how the Knicks move more and more towards Porzingis on offense, without making Anthony feel like someone trying to pull the rug from under his feet. This is still his team, only less than before, and ideally, he’s able to transform into just another cog in the machine, because Anthony trying to run the show on his own doesn’t work.