Hello P&Ters! Just wanted to quickly touch on a subject that's been on my mind since the end of the Heat game. It's really fascinating to me how Knick fans have observed Carmelo since the start of the season. I follow a good number on twitter and I see many others in the comments section of different sites and I have seen a really large number of comments praising the "new Melo Anthony." Many state that he has been playing at a higher level than ever before in his career through these three games, and that he is setting the tone for the Knicks. I have now seen numerous posts referring to a clear motivation in his play, and that he might be turning the corner and becoming the leader we always envisioned. I see people talking about his defensive intensity and willingness to pass and I start to become really confused.
I don't see very much evidence of any of that. I see pretty much the same Melo that I've been watching for the past five years or so, since he refined his jump shot. Carmelo is still a devastating isolation scorer, making guys like Rashard Lewis and Thad Young look like holograms in single coverage. He's still eschewing drives to the rim for unnecessary pull-up jumpers at times. He's still defending in the post with his hands, preferring to swipe at the ball during the shot attempt rather than put both arms up and contest the shot. He is still a sneaky-good passer and he still utilizes that ability less than I'd like. He looks more or less exactly like he looked last season. I suppose his play will always be painted gold in a Knick win.
I remember trying to describe Melo as a tough one-on-one defender and skilled passer last season. I was usually laughed at. It's strange to me that Melo is doing the same things now and people are suddenly willing to see what they refused to a year ago.
I mean, through three games we're looking at 26/7.3/1.7/1/1 averages on 44/33/82 shooting. Drop a couple of those blocks and steals and that looks exactly like old Carmelo to me. He isn't playing at some type of insane new level. The Knicks are playing well because they have Ray Felton, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, and JR Smith where Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby, Landry Fields, and Bully were at this time last season. They got legitimately better. Arturo Galletti from the WoW network predicted the Knicks to be a top 2 seed in the East this season barring significant injury. For three games they looked the part.
I am endlessly fascinated by the general NBA fan's ability to generate narrative to explain fairly obvious occurrences in basketball. On Hoopspeak Live today Beckley, Ethan, and Zach discussed the chance that Carmelo contends for the MVP this season. They seemed to all agree that Melo has a good shot at it if the Knicks turn out to be a true contender and that reality is insane. I just don't get how a player can stay relatively the same and somehow manage a 180 in public perception. Then again, as a Knick fan, maybe I just don't understand the power of winning.
Are there any of you who believe Carmelo looks like a different player this season? Why?