Carmelo Anthony has turned some heads already early in this season.
At one point, he said he could not wait for free agency. Then in another he said he would be opening his rolodex to try and get other stars to New York. And then in another he was getting beat by Derrick Rose at the last second in the first national TV game for the Knicks.
New York is quickly becoming the forgotten team in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks finished second in the conference last year, but by some estimations may not get home court advantage in this year's Playoffs. It is very likely they could get passed over again. And the 1-3 start that included a loss to the Bobcats on Tuesday night are not leaving Knicks fans settled.
Neither is Tyson Chandler's fractured leg that will keep him out at least a month.
That puts more onus on Carmelo Anthony.
However, if the Knicks are going to advance far in the playoffs, Anthony needs to make his teammates more involved. That is what Charles Barkley said of the Knicks' chances before the season (h/t Neil Best of Long Island Newsday):
So, Charles Barkley, how might Anthony become the sort of player who attracts others? "Play a little defense and get a rebound every now and then," he said. "Pass the ball."
Later, he added that though he considers Anthony "the best offensive player in the NBA," that is not enough. "Guys don't want to play with a guy who doesn't pass the ball," he said.
Ouch. That should hurt Anthony's pride.
Take a look at the numbers.
Anthony is averaging 23.8 points per game through four games this season on 37.1 percent shooting. He is also averaging 3.0 assists per game. Anthony is not the same scoring machine he was last year and he does not particularly make the players around him better. He is not leading the league in scoring with 28.7 points per game like he did last year. Not yet, at least.
Last year he had a 14.1 percent assist rate and that has decreased to 13.2 percent, among the lowest in his career (which came his rookie year).
Anthony is not a passer. He is a scorer plain and simple.
So the question for the Knicks if they want to attract other stars, placate Anthony and win championships is how do we get Anthony to be a second option or share the ball. Right now, he dominates the ball. That is one of the reasons Amar'e Stoudemire's play fell off after the trade (and Amar'e's knee issues).
Anthony still has time to prove himself. All he has to do is improve his playmaking and get others involved. Then this Knicks team could be really good.
Unfortunately, Anthony might have to do more now that Chandler is out and the defense is sure to take a hit.