The New York Knicks were a good team – a year ago and two years ago. Last season, the Knicks had a solid roster featuring Carmelo Anthony, his supporting cast; and let’s not forget from the 2011/2012 the ‘Linsanity” moments that brought the team together as a collective unit resulting in a streak of victories surprisingly without Carmelo Anthony in the lineup. But, at the end of the day, the Knicks were never an elite team despite their 2012-2013 regular season and post-season success. Truth is, the Knicks have not improved their roster at any significant position and Carmelo Anthony is still the same shoot-first, pass as a last option, type of player he has been throughout his entire NBA career.
So how did the Knicks fall from being one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference to literally one of the worst teams in conference? As most NBA enthusiasts would realize during the 2012-2013 season, quite a few of the teams in the Eastern Conference were clearly not as competitive or talented as their Western Conference counterparts and the overall comparison of winning percentages between the two conferences were far from matching the same level. Case in point, only seven teams in the eastern conference experienced a winning percentage of at least .500 while the Western Conference produced 10 teams with at least a .500 winning percentage. Here are the standings for the top eight teams in the eastern conference during the 2012-2013 NBA season.
2012-2013 NBA Eastern Conference Standings.
2012-2013 NBA Western Conference Standings
The Ugly Truth:
- 1. The Chicago Bulls were without their star guard Derrick Rose, which set the team back from finding any huge success during the 2012-2013 regular season.
- 2. The Indiana Pacers were better than expected, while the NY Knicks failed to live up to their stellar regular season record. The Knicks were unexpectedly outmatched by a tough Pacers team that exploited the Knicks interior defense while subsequently sending Melo and company on an early summer vacation.
- 3. The Brooklyn Nets were an up and coming team that suffered an early season coaching change (Avery Johnson), unfortunately a sub-par roster eventually led to their early first round exit by the hands of the Chicago Bulls during the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
- 4. The Miami Heat were by far the most elite team in the Eastern Conference. The dominated during the regular season and went on to win their second consecutive NBA title
- Like the Knicks, the San Antonio Spurs were the second best team in their conference but unlike the Knicks, the Spurs advanced to the NBA finals. If the Knicks were such an elite team they should have at least advanced far enough into the playoffs to battle the Miami Heat in the eastern conference finals.
Carmelo Anthony may never reach the level of greatness averaging a mere 2.8 assists per game. There is a formula to becoming a great player and it requires the ability to share the ball and motivate his teammates into performing at their highest level. Magic Johnson averaged 11.6 apg, Michael Jordan dished out a career 5.3 apg, Kobe averages 4.8 apg, and Lebron averages 6.9 apg. Where does Carmelo rank among the greatest players in the NBA? In my opinion he is a great scorer but fails to meet the criteria that defines a great player, therefore he does not rank among the elite.
All hope isn’t lost. The Knicks have a chance to turn things around but it will require a few sacrifices. Melo must find a way to involve his teammates offensively. The Knicks are in dire need of a true point guard who understands the “team” concept. During his time with the Knicks, Jeremy Lin proved how sharing the ball and setting teammates up for success can rejuvenate a franchise and bring the excitement back to Madison Square Garden. Sadly, I can’t envision Carmelo Anthony improving his overall game and the Knicks organization may find themselves falling deeper and deeper in the rabbit hole.