Here is a thing that I noticed very early in the season, then noticed again while working on my Knicks Power Rankings yesterday, then read about in Ethan Sherwood Strauss's post at Bleacher Report: Carmelo Anthony is taking and hitting a whole bunch of three-pointers. In the season's first 16 games, Melo's is averaging 5.3 attempts per night and hitting 43.5 percent of those attempts. There are a few ways to approach this information:
- As I struggled to articulate in the Rankings, Melo's volume and accuracy on threes through the first month of 2012-2013 exceeds anything he's ever done. The only stretch of play that comes close to matching that output (granted, we're choosing among naturally discrete periods. I'm sure you could find a random four-week stretch in the mid-2000s in which Melo shot a lot and accurately) is the period of 2010-2011 after Melo joined the Knicks. In about the same minutes, Anthony shot 4.6 threes per game during those 27 games and hit 42.4 percent of them.
- In between Melo's stellar first third of a season as a Knick and this even more stellar opening to 2012-2013 stand the 55 games he played last year. Last season-- during which, I remind everyone I meet, he played through wrist, ankle, and groin injuries- Anthony took just 3.7 threes per game and hit a yucky 33.5 percent of them. He didn't shoot well. (Update: fuhry reminds me that Melo was coming off elbow and knee surgery as well.)
- Strauss's post focuses on shot location differences between last season and this season. Take a look for the full zone details and colorful pictures, but the upshot is this: This season, Melo is taking more threes and fewer long twos than he did last season. He's also shooting a much better percentage on threes AND long twos.
- And one more somewhat related takeaway: Melo is actually getting attempts the rim more often this year then he was last year, but he's shooting a much worse percentage on those shots (from 59.9 percent down to 52.7 percent). I'm not really sure how to explCOUGHHE'SNOTGETTINGFOULCALLSain that.
Do with this information what you will. Print it out, make a boat out of it, and float it down the nearest canal if you must. To me, the early data suggests that, among all his other virtues: 1. Melo is intentionally taking more efficient shots (threes > long twos) and 2. Melo is healthy. These are things that please me.