Carmelo Anthony Will Never Win an NBA Title

Carmelo Anthony Frustrated

Carmelo Anthony is a victim of his own talent. He knows on any given play, he is the best shooter on the floor. Therefore, the more I shoot, the more points my team will score.

It doesn’t work like that. While the thought process is sound, that mindset breeds a byproduct of poisonous intangibles that sap his teammates of confidence and rhythm.

Anthony’s play does not make his teammates better. His game is one-on-one, post up, and find a shot inside 17 feet: which is something at which he is amazing. I want to take nothing away from his level of talent.

But when he’s scoring, no one else is engaged. So once Carmelo starts missing, his teammates look lost. They think, not react. The LeBron vs. Carmelo debate is long over, and LeBron wins due in part to their mindset once they touch the ball:

Carmelo: How can I score
LeBron: How can my team score

When Carmelo Anthony is one-on-one in the post, watch his whole focus shift to scoring. Watch his teammates stand around. They know they’re probably not touching the ball, creating a disconnect between his talent and (lack of) on-court leadership. LeBron/Kevin Durant/Paul George are always looking up, scouting the floor.

Carmelo Anthony’s style of play is conducive to winning regular season games. His only formula that ends with and NBA championship is a utopian postseason performance in which he shoots an impeccable percentage from the field. Against postseason-caliber defenses, it won’t happen.

The only way I can see him winning is if he finds it in his game to reserve himself into a #2 role, something I don’t think he’ll be willing to do until he’s well into his 30’s.

From a Knicks fan’s perspective (myself) the most frustrating part about his game is his schizophrenic defense. Watch his defense from his 62-point outburst against the Bobcats: Impeccable. He stays with his man and has that killer instinct in his eye. But when he’s missing, his defense slacks and he becomes visibly frustrated at first chance.

No offense = bad defense, a lethal cocktail if you’re trying to win an NBA championship. Seemingly, when their leader sags off, the Knicks follow suit which leads to a mess on the court and a 20-32 record off it.

Two days ago Carmelo missed yet another potential game-winning or game-tying jump shot late in the game: a shot literally everyone knew was coming. He never drives to the hoop in that situation. Never scans the court for an open teammate. He jab steps until he gets a little space, takes a fadeaway 18-footer and hopes it goes in.

Stephen A. Smith put it nicely: The Knicks are losing with him. They Knicks can lose without him.

I agree. I would rather see a group of scrappy, cohesive athletes. I want to see what these young kids can do – Tim Hardaway, Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Tyler. Their talent and growth is retarded via Anthony’s level of talent.

In maybe the most stacked NBA draft in years, the Knicks will be without a draft pick. Why not #LetMeloGo? I’m sorry, but this experiment failed. Package Carmelo and get a first round draft pick. Let’s get some teamwork. I’m sick of one-on-one basketball. It doesn’t work.

 

North Korea, Dennis Rodman May Be the Most Important Person in America

I started following basketball just as the Chicago Bulls were starting phase two of their eight-year dynasty. That team was fun to watch. If Michael Jordan wasn’t enough for you (career highlights), every game could be one when enforcer Dennis Rodman lost his mind. Like on January 15, 1997, when he kicked cameraman Eugene Amos in the groin after tripping over him.

Rodman was undersized at his position, yet is one of the greatest rebounders of all time due to perpetual aggression and determination. He has to be one of the five most intimidating basketball players of all time; definitely one of the five most unique.

Dennis Rodman dyed his hair a different color(s) before every game. I like Bert adjacent to the top left corner
Dennis Rodman dyed his hair a different color(s) before every game

In 2013 Rodman made his first, second, and third trips to North Korea. Dubbed the Hermit Kingdom, it is a country of total dictatorship, where failure to worship the “Supreme Leader” results in the death or imprisonment of not just you but your extended family.

The dictator’s face is everywhere. The documentary Inside Undercover In North Korea (here) takes you through the ten-day journey of a doctor traveling through North Korea to treat blind patients. At one point the crew was granted camera access inside a typical North Korean home. Family pictures were non-existent, but in seemingly every room there was a picture of Kim Jong-un. You watch them bow down, but their passion while doing so conveys how  commonplace and ritualistic it is throughout the country.

I imagine telling a North Korean they’re brainwashed would be the same reaction of a North Korean trying to genuinely convince me the Earth is flat. In their heads, they are infinitely lucky to be a part of the greatest country in the universe. “Juche” is a well-known slogan of unification in North Korea. To the outside world, that translates to “Up yours.”

Kim Jong-un’s hatred toward America is well known. He has recently threatened America with nuclear weapons and still blames America for the separation of Korea over a half-century ago. Anti-American nursery rhymes are taught to kids the way we may teach Ring Around the Rosy to ours (technically, we are still in the Korean War. North Korea never signed papers to formally end it, so legally we are in a half-century cease fire).

But Kim Jong-un is an admitted fan of the 1990s Bulls franchise, enough to break the ice with a high-profile American for the first time. He could have picked anyone else. Something drew him to Dennis Rodman. Remember when he wore a dress to promote his autobiography?

But it may be a perfect wedding. Both seem to live in their respective internal realities, and maybe this is the first time both Rodman and Kim Jong-un have found someone else that “gets it.” Rodman seems to have little genuine desire to talk politics, and maybe that’s a breath of fresh air for the Supreme Leader of Earth’s most mysterious country.

Maybe Rodman is so unique he is the only person in the world Kim Jong-un has ever connected with. Rodman doesn’t give in to national pressure to question the dictator’s politics (CNN outburst here), and if Rodman wants to take it slow and develop a true friendship then why not? “Finally, someone isn’t trying to criticize me or my country,” and Rodman is so different I truly believe he’s being genuine. Where maybe no one has understood Kim Jong-un his whole life, maybe this is an opportunity for the dictator to make his first “true friend.”

What if this works? What if Kim Jong is so flattered by Rodman he finagles a United States interaction with North Korea. What if Rodman’s friendship leads to communication. What if Rodman’s friendship  keeps Kim Jong from pulling the trigger on a nuclear weapon on the United States.

Kim Jong-un hand selected Rodman. Either way you look at it, the bottom line is a friendship is forming. Rodman’s “Up yours” attitude toward his sea of American critics will fuel his fire to befriend the dictator. All stars may have aligned.

I can see it now. “Class, please turn to page 167. Here we will see how 200 years ago Dennis Rodman initiated peace between America and North Korea.”

NBA, Change the Jump Ball Rule

I’m not talking about the opening tip – just in-game jumps.

A few months ago I argued shots beyond half court should not count as field goals attempted as a way to straighten curbed statistics. My only other qualm with NBA rules is the situation asked of players in mid-game jump ball situations.

As current rules dictate, if Player A gets tied up with Player B (both have “possession”), the whistle is blown and both players tip off at the circle nearest where the whistle blew. The ref throws the ball up and both try to tip it to their team.

But if I’m 5’10 and induce a jump ball with 7’1″ Dikembe Mutombo, I get to try and out jump this guy:

Might as well not have even played defense. Mutombo wouldn’t have to even jump against most players under ~6’3″~.

Us vertically challenged people want fair rights! This is an outrage!

If you’re not going to use college basketball’s possession arrow, let teams choose their tallest player on the court for mid-game jump balls. If I get tied up with Shaquille O’Neal, let my buddy Yao Ming try to win the tip – this way most accurately rewards a good defensive play.

One more issue: When a jump ball is called with less than five seconds on the shot clock, the clock resets to five seconds. If I’m playing great defense and induce a jump ball with one second on the shot clock – when if I didn’t play defense it would most likely result in a bad shot or shot clock violation – the offensive team has now a 50:50 chance (on the jump ball) to get off a clean shot, as I feel five seconds is enough time to do so.

This rare, but possible situation puts defenders in the awkward position of “Should I play my best defense right now,” a thought that, morally, should never to enter a player’s head in any sport.

Instead of resetting the shot clock to five seconds, add two seconds to whatever the shot clock read at the whistle. Give the ball those seconds to find its possesser and go from there.

In summary:
Let teams choose which player jumps for possession
Abandon the five-second rule and replace it with a +2 second rule

A month ago I voiced my displeasure on how many players refuse to throw up prayers in the final seconds of quarters as a way to strengthen statistics. Commissioner Stern, don’t be so stern. Adjust for changes that positively affect the game. Tweak the jump ball rule and don’t count shots beyond half court as field goals attempted.

Sporcle of the Week: Top 5 NBA Scorers by Draft

I’m a sucker for 90s basketball, and this Sporcle delivers. Since 1992 and until 2011, name the top five NBA scorers from their respective draft class.

Make sure you have 15 minutes to kill. I got 55 of 105 but know I could’ve gotten more. One of those “Oh c’mon I knew that” quizzes.

Happy Sporcling!

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: TOP 5 SCORERS BY DRAFT CLASS

Half-Court Shots Should Not Count as Field Goals

David Stern, NBA Commissioner

During yesterday’s Knicks game, Jason Kidd threw up a wild shot from 3/4 court to end the third quarter. The shot landed nowhere near the hoop, but it was a nice effort.

Kidd is shooting a career-high 45% from three-point range this year, but the aforementioned miss counts against that percentage despite the 2% chance the shot connects.

In today’s stat-driven age, a few percentage points could be the difference between thousands of contract dollars. Logically, a vast majority of players hold the ball in the final seconds of a quarter despite zero risk to your team by chucking one up from 70 feet.

If players are collectively more worried about hurting their stats than helping their team (in this instance), then Commissioner David Stern and the NBA should cater to it.

Treat shots behind half court like shots after a foul – if it goes in, it counts as a three pointer made. If not, then it doesn’t count as a shot attempt.

“Dude Perfect” hits a shot from the top of Texas A&M’s football field. VIDEO

The most exciting part of a basketball game is the buzzer beater. The cherry on top is a buzzer beater from far, far away. (Here’s a compilation of them). By giving players the freedom to hoist one up without personal risk, you’ll see more end of the quarter excitement. In turn, more fans will tune in to end a quarter and potentially add more advertising demand on the commercials following.

From the time I was little and until today, I’ll watch any basketball game if there’s under a minute to go in the quarter/half, just in case I see a fun buzzer beater connect.

Without proof, I know I am not the only basketball fan who does this.

In its current state, basketball is not in its truest form. Imagine this scenario: the Houston Rockets are up by 15 to the Cleveland Cavaliers with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. As the clock winds down, the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving drives to the basket and misses a layup. With three seconds left, James Harden grabs the rebound and holds it – Rockets up 15 to end the third quarter. However, the Cavaliers make a great fourth-quarter push and eventually win by a point.

Now this: without worrying a half-court shot could potentially hurt him down the road financially, Harden takes one dribble, spins around a defender, and throws up a wild, off-balance 60-footer. Swish.

Down by 18, the Cavaliers walk back to the bench with new-found dejection, possibly with the added emotion “maybe this just isn’t our night.” Maybe Harden’s three is the difference in the game. Maybe it’s not, but maybe it is. Maybe the Rockets make the playoffs by a game.

In this instance, basketball punishes the team player.

Take Player A, a great shooter in his contract year. He won’t risk taking a wild shot at the buzzer because every miss means less money in his next deal. It’s not that he’s a bad person, just a human being. He doesn’t take any shots behind half court and ends the year 80-200 (40%) from three-point range.

Now Player B, an equally great shooter, but a team player. He doesn’t care about stats. If he has the ball in the backcourt with a second to go in the first quarter, he’ll throw up a prayer because maybe it’ll help his team. He took five half-court shots this year and missed all to make him 80-205 (39%) from three-point range.

At season’s end, the Clippers need a three-point specialist. According to stats, Player A is the better choice, even though their only difference was Player B’s stronger will to help his team.

Mr. Stern, don’t count shots beyond half-court as field goals. Add excitement to the game. Bring back its purity. If I’m tuning in to watch the end of the quarter, so are others, and that means more money in your pocket.

Because who doesn’t want to see more of this:

Why the Knicks are Serious Title Contenders This Season

After a tough loss Monday, the Knicks played what I thought was their best game all season Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets (box score). They made the extra pass, rotated with energy on defense, hustled, and conveyed to me they were not going to lose.

They committed seven turnovers, none in the third quarter.

Five superstars do not make winning basketball. You need a special concoction of pieces that flow together to make the tastiest mix drink. Assuming health, this 2012 Knicks team has all the ingredients:

The Star – Carmelo Anthony

With Carmelo, you always have a backup plan. If you’re out of sync, he can single-handedly bail you out. He leads the team offensively and will close out games in the fourth quarter.

The President – Jason Kidd

See my post that argues Jason Kidd is the most important player on the Knicks. Kidd’s veteran presence keeps the team in check and keeps Carmelo focused but grounded. He directs the offense and isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re doing something wrong.

The Enforcer – Tyson Chandler

A perennial leader in technical fouls, Chandler’s breadth, intimidation, and blue-collar play polish New York’s interior game. Chandler’s defense and size is the one clear-cut advantage over the Miami Heat, and unselfishness on the boards (slapping the ball out to the perimeter to reset the shot clock instead of trying to pad stats) keeps the Knicks in every game.

The Shooter – Steve Novak

Even when he’s off, he still spaces the floor for Carmelo & Co. Like my dog, you have to give last year’s three-point percentage leader perpetual attention. If you don’t, you’ll get a Wisconsinly cheesy Discount Double Check.

The Defenders/Dirty Workers – Ronnie Brewer, Iman Shumpert

Both have the potential to knock down shots, but their job is to defend, hustle, and rebound. Brewer doesn’t get the credit he should, and Shumpert’s great on-ball defense will both frustrate opponents and keep them out of rhythm.

The Sixth Man/Wild Card – J.R. Smith

He’s the Robin to Carmelo’s Batman. The first one off the bench, Smith keeps the fire burning with his unquestioned offensive ability. His biggest weakness has always been his intangibles (he did not attended practice when he played for China during the lockout last year), but this season evoked a new J.R., one that plays hard defense, hustles, and keeps his dribbling and shooting under control.

The Veteran Cast – Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace (and Jason Kidd)

While these guys can’t give you big minutes, their presence at practice and during the game is unquestioned. Their wisdom gives the Knicks a mental advantage over every other team in the league and will be the unsung heroes should the Knicks make a big playoff push.

Mike Woodson – Head Coach

The players respect Mike Woodson. I see the way they play defense for him compared to Mike D’Antoni. Woodson is relateable, smart, honest, experienced, and likeable, a succeeding mix in the eyes of New Yorkers.

Last year with D’Antoni as head coach, New York was second-to-last in turnovers with over 16 per game. With Woodson, this year they lead the league with their record-setting pace of 10.7 per.

The scary thing is the 19-6 Knicks are competing without two indelible pieces – Amar’e Stoudemire (to return within the week) and Iman Shumpert (January).

Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert

I’m more excited to get Shumpert back – a great defender who won’t complain if he isn’t shooting. Shumpert is a team player who adds charisma, character, and a beastly high fade to the Garden. His skills and role will cohesively complement New York’s abundance of shooting talent.

Stoudemire will play limited minutes and will undoubtedly make the Knicks a better team. This assumes he doesn’t retard the Knicks chemistry, potentially a serious problem. But with now Woodson as the Knicks head coach, I believe STAT will put his ego aside and concentrate on defense, rebounding, and his elbow jump shot.

The Knicks are playing team basketball. The players’ knows their role and it seems individual goals take a back seat to winning, refreshing for a franchise trying to end a decade of embarrassment.

With a bench stronger than nearly every team in the league (Clippers), this Knicks team feels like one with the “it” factor. If they can stay healthy and Amar’e understands his new role, that Heat-Knicks rivalry we saw in the 90s could make a comeback in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.

Jason Kidd is the most important player on the Knicks

He’s going to play 20 minutes a game. He’s slow. He’s old.

Entering his 19th season, Jason Kidd has never averaged more than 20 points per game. The Knicks backup point guard has averaged 10 assists per game in only three seasons, and never more than 11.

His lifetime three-point percentage sits under 35%.

And he’s the most important player on the New York Knicks.

Lost in translation three paragraphs up is Kidd’s longevity – 19 seasons in any job conveys you’re doing something right. The NBA’s #3 all-time leader in triple doubles, Kidd’s wisdom, pass first mentality, leadership, and desire to teach will turn the mediocre Knicks into eastern conference champion contenders.

Before Jeremy Lin signed with the Rockets but after Kidd joined the Knicks, Kidd said this:

“To have a chance to mentor a very good player in Jeremy — be able to share my secrets or what I’ve learned in my 18 years — for him hopefully to take it to another level, it’s something I look forward to doing,” Kidd said. Here’s the article.

I can be the best professor east of the Mississippi, but if I don’t want to teach students, then I’m just as valuable as your sixth grade substitute English teacher.

Even though Lin is no longer in New York, Kidd showed his itch to teach. In his twilight years, Kidd wants to leave his mark on the game.

What better team to fix?

Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, while both seething with talent, don’t work well together. Based on conjecture and watching Knicks basketball, their games do not mesh, they lack chemistry, and both want to be “the guy.”

A veteran like Kidd won’t hesitate to tell Stoudemire or Anthony what they’re doing wrong, and they’ll listen due to Kidd’s résumé.

Last year, Baron Davis and Jared Jeffries were the only Knicks with more NBA experience than Melo. Jeffries is a careeer-long defensive specialist and Davis failed to convince me he played for more than the money.

On the court, who was there to tell Melo to shut up?

On paper, last year’s Knicks translated into a team better than a 36-30 record and first-round exit. I felt their #1 problem was a lack of fluidity and chemistry.

But this year, and even as you read this as the Knicks prepare for Philly tonight, Kidd is revamping mindsets and relationships. As point guard and player/coach, Anthony and Stoudemire will have no choice but to play Kidd’s game, one that is 19 years wise and emphasizes passing and locating the open man.

Starting with Allen Iverson around 1999, we fell in love with the score-first point guard. The theory is now in its 14th (or so) straight year of failure. Here are the point guards (including career ppg) that have won championships the last decade:

Dwyane Wade ……………………………………………………………………………….. 25.2 ppg Jason Kidd …………………………………………………………………………………….. 13.0 ppg
Derek Fisher …………………………………………………………………………………… 8.6 ppg
Rajon Rondo ………………………………………………………………………………….. 10.8 ppg
Tony Parker ………………………………………………………………………………….. 16.8 ppg Chauncey Billups ………………………………………………………………….,……….. 15.5 ppg

Here are ones that haven’t:
Carmelo Anthony (They experimented with him at PG last year) ……….. 24.7 ppg
Allen Iverson…………………………………………………………………………………. 26.7 ppg
Chris Paul …………………………………………………………………………………….. 18.8 ppg
Stephon Marbury ………………………………………………………………………….. 19.3 ppg
Tracy McGrady ……………………………………………………………………………… 19.6 ppg

With Kidd’s decision making not diluted with the hotts for 40-point games, he understands a winning team requires an unselfish, pass-first mentality.

That’s why the Knicks won with Jeremy Lin. Ironically, Lin was putting up 25-30 point games, but his passing glued the Knicks into a cohesive unit, not five stations at one carnival.

With veterans Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace here to side with “Jason Kidd basketball,” maybe Anthony and Stoudemire will get the hefty serving of humble pie they desperately needed last year.

Assuming half the team doesn’t retire to Florida before the end of the season, the Knicks’ leadership, talent, deep bench, and confidence will engineer the most wins of any Knicks team since their 57-25 season in 1996-97.