The first half of the season has been a nightmare for the teams two "stars." Not only have they had a difficult time staying on the court together, playing in only 19 of the teams 35 games together, but they have played some of their most ineffective basketball of their careers.
The Knicks two highest paid players are struggling the most in the one area no one expected, offensively. While Carmelo's 21.4 pts per game and Amare's 17.5 pts per game are not horrendous numbers. Afterall, there are several coaches in the NBA right now who would love to have one guy averaging over 21pts and another averaging over 17. However, when you look at how effectively each player is using their shot attempts you see that both players are playing ineffective basketball. Carmelo Anthony's 21.4 pts comes on 18.4 shot attempts. Now 18.4 attempts is not a ridiculous number for the team's number one scorer, generating 1.16 pts per shot attempt is poor point production plain and simple. Amare likewise averages 15.6 attempts to get his 17.5 points. That means Amare generates only 1.12 points per shot attempt. Now the minimum standard for effective use of shot attempts is 1.25 pts per attempt. For the record in past seasons both players have exceeded that mark. For example last season Carmelo produced 1.32 points per shot attempt. For the record Carmelo's previous low mark was 1.17 per attempt his rookie season, his best season Carmelo produced 1.34 points per shot attempt. Carmelo's career average is 1.28 pts per attempt. Amare last season produced 1.33 pts per shot attempt. His career high is 1.58 pts per attempt. In fact if you exclude the season that Amare played only 17 games after trying to come back from micro-fracture surgery He has average 1.46 pts per shot attempt, which is second to only Dirk Nowitzki in the league since 2002. So it is clear that 1.16 and 1.12 points is unacceptable. Amare and Carmelo do not need more shots but they need to be more productive with them.
For Amare that means he needs to re-distribute his shots in order to get more of them in the paint. Not only should that help Amare raise his field goal percentage but it will give him increased opportunities to get to the free throw line. Amare is averaging 4.7 free throw attempts a game which is the lowest total for any non injury season of his career. Amare averages 7.6 free throw attempts a game for his career. Getting his field goal percentage up and getting him to the line more should allow Amare to be more productive even if he is not taking more shots. D'Antoni needs to figure that out.
For Carmelo, like Amare he also needs to get more shot attempts in the paint. I do believe that injuries have effected Carmelo in that he appears to be posting up and driving less. As a result Carmelo is relying way too much on his jump shot to score and as a result his free throw attempts are also down slightly from his career average. If Carmelo can increase his drives and post ups and limit the number of contested jump shots he takes out of his isolations that should also get him to raise his percentage and get him to the free throw line. I find it astonishing that two guys who both shoot over 80% from the free throw line who have been struggling offensively have not been doing more to get to the free throw line as these are basically free points for guys who shoot free throws as well as these two. Either way D'Antoni needs to encourage Carmelo to post more, drive more in order to get to the line more.
The Knicks have a talented squad, but D'Antoni has to get more out of these two if the Knicks are going to emerge out of the ranks of the pretenders to become contenders Carmelo and Amare need to become more productive on the court.