July 12, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; United States forward Carmelo Anthony (15) against the Dominican Republic at the Thomas and Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Carmelo Anthony: Is Melo a Better Olympic Player than NBA Player?

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Carmelo Anthony has heard the criticisms of his ability to lead a team in the past and he will hear even more of them during the 2012-13 season if things don’t go well for the Knicks during the regular season.

July 16, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; United States forward Carmelo Anthony (15) holds the ball against Brazil in the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Right now, Anthony isn’t hearing a peep from the critics as he has been fantastic coming off the bench for Team USA.

Could that be because international basketball hides Anthony’s flaws as a player? If you ask Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, that answer is yes. In a recent column he wrote, Wojnarowski breaks down why Melo is a much better Olympic player than an NBA player.

Wojnarowski writes:

The United States Olympic basketball program has always been the perfect refuge for Carmelo Anthony, liberating him of leadership and leaving him to shoot the basketball. These summers in the red, white and blue have cleansed him of missteps and embarrassments in his NBA career, but he’s never used proximity to the world’s most driven and complete players to finish a transformation into a full-service franchise star.

For everything that Anthony has given USA Basketball as a talent, he hasn’t always been able to sustain the world-class conditioning, deference on offense and determination on defense. And all these leaders surrounding him … well, they never made him one, too. His flaws have shown themselves within the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks, but Team USA is constructed to take all of ‘Melo’s good, and never been burdened with the bad.

 

While that assessment of Melo may seem a bit harsh and I only agree with it a little bit, Wojnarowski hits on some points that are major concerns among Knicks fans.

First, the conditioning shouldn’t be an issue as Melo should be coming to camp in shape after competing in the 2012 London Games. He had his best year as a pro after the last Olympics, so I expect something similar this year.

I do agree with some of Wojnarowski’s other points, but maybe not as strongly as he does.

Melo hasn’t been a good leader in the NBA and his failures have been well documented. In international play, he doesn’t have to worry about leading as there are plenty of legitimate and proven leaders around him.

He’s also a matchup nightmare at either forward spot against any opponent Team USA will play. He can shoot as much as he wants and not worry about having to play defense a great deal of the time.  The main knocks on Melo as an NBA player are the fact that he doesn’t defer on offense and isn’t willing to commit to playing defense.

Quite frankly, that’s a fair criticism by Wojnarowski or anyone else. While Knicks fans may have seen tiny glimpses of an unselfish Melo and a player committed at the defensive end, those are things he hasn’t proven that he can sustain for lengths of times as an NBA player. Until he does, those criticisms will follow Melo around.

The problem is that despite all of his extraordinary talents, you honestly don’t know what you will get from Anthony, not only year to year, but sometimes game to game. That’s a shame for someone who has been in the NBA for a decade now.

In the Olympics for Team USA, they don’t need Melo to be a leader or a complete player, but the Knicks do, especially come playoff time.

His best year in Denver in 2008, Melo had Chauncey Billups to lean on as a leader. He may have something similar in Jason Kidd this season in New York, but now is the time for Melo to step up and become the complete player his skill set suggests he should be.

He’s proven he can score points in bunches but the Knicks need a leader and a complete basketball player out of Melo and those are things he’s never proven he can do.

For his sake, hopefully Melo realizes the Knicks window to win a championship is a small one and will close quickly. Hopefully he comes to training camp in shape and is willing to do the things necessary to take not only himself, but his team to the next level.

I for one, sometimes think the critics are sometimes a bit harsh on Anthony, but I won’t call the critics wrong.

If Anthony wants to be called a superstar and be paid like one, those are things that he simply has to do as a player.

I also think you will see much more out of Melo this season and beyond and he will begin to silence his critics. At least I hope so, but I have been wrong about him before.

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Tags: 2012 Olympics Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks

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