Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Moving Melo: Why not have Anthony play power forward (again)?

Alright, I know it's too early to start making major changes and freaking out. Especially after the Knicks just had a big win and there is hope everything is coming together.

But in an effort to improve this team, I'm making a humble suggestion: learn from the past and move Melo back to PF.

To make my point, I will first take a look at the team's history with Carmelo Anthony and other offensive schemes.

Flashback to 2011: Melo gets traded to the Knicks. Coach Mike D'Antoni is leading the team with a slowed down version of his offense. Melo comes and wants to play the 3 -- which he has his whole career. However, in D'Antoni's offense Melo has to stay at the corner for spacing reasons, which isn't the role Anthony played in Denver.

Melo tries to comply, but as time goes on, he starts slipping back to where he's comfortable: the elbow. This kills spacing for the Knicks offense, especially the following season when Tyson is acquired.

To his credit, D'Antoni did get creative and tried to find ways to satisfy Melo and stick with his offense -- including making Anthony the point forward. But to no avail. The Knicks struggled and limped into the playoffs -- where they were quickly dispatched in the first round.

The struggle was real and continued the next season, That's when D'Antoni leaves; Woodson takes over. Woodson makes some changes, and while the team excels, they still get killed by the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

The following year, Woodson makes more changes and he moves Carmelo to the four.

What happens? The Knicks have their best season in over a decade and they even win a playoff series for the first time since 2000. The offense had balance and Melo was where he wanted to be (and it didn't hurt that the Knicks were moving the ball well, their bench was excellent and making shots).

So, why doesn't it make sense to make that same change now?

As the power forward, Melo would be exactly where he likes to play. The elbow, high post and low post. It would help spacing without a doubt, because we'd have one more shooter on the floor. And spacing is essential when it comes to the triangle. The move, in my inexpert opinion, would help chemistry for the team in general. Whether or not he's playing the four, Melo is still moving to those spots on the floor. Much like he did in 2011 and that's causing confusion and perhaps some frustration among his teammates. Anthony's forcing his way into the post and that's forcing other players to figure out what he's doing and move correctly to another spot on the floor.

Moving Melo would also make sense for the roster because we have a hell of lot more wing players and guards than we do big men. Which group is more talented? J.R. Smith, Hardaway, Shump, Early and Wear or Dalembert, Jason Smith, Acy and Bargnani? Without a doubt the former. So why not find a way to keep our best players on the floor?

It would even make sense in context of the triangle offense, since a good post-up player is recommended and we don't have one of those (right now) besides Stat.

Now, Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher know more about this offense than I'll never know. For me,
playing Melo at small forward doesn't make sense. But I can understand that there might be some reasons. For example, the future of the team. The offense seems to work best when you have a balance of talent on the perimeter and paint. And this coming offseason, the best options for New York in free agency seem to be post players.

So, hypothetically, if NY were to sign someone like Marc Gasol with Carmelo playing the four, it would create a post logjam. If this is the logic, then maybe this season is more about teaching than it is about winning. Phil and Fisher want to show Melo how to play so he's prepared for a 2015-16 run. Which might be a more prudent move than I can reconcile.

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