There’s little doubt that Carmelo Anthony can be argued as the most prolific pure scorer in the NBA and he continued to prove his case on Sunday. With his 36-point game in Oklahoma City, head-to-head against reigning scoring champion Kevin Durant, he took over KD for first in scoring in the NBA. Whether or not he is the best, he is still a superstar and will draw the attention and pressure to win as any star player should.
It’s almost hard to believe that a player with such talent and star power holds the worst individual postseason record at 17-38 over the past couple decades. Obviously, as a team game, it’s never all his fault and some bad luck with injury struck his teammates last season, but we still can expect more out of him than being the worst. It doesn’t help that the 1-2 punch the Knicks imagined with Amar’e Stoudemire and Melo has been a failure for a variety of reasons, but the Knicks record shows that they are better without Amar’e in the lineup anyway. This is clearly Melo’s team and there’s no Knick that even comes close to exuding the confidence most fans have in Melo with the ball in his hands.
The current pressure on Melo to lead the Knicks is only partially because of his poor postseason career and that pressure is solely personal for him. Knick fans couldn’t care less about his postseason failures all of those seasons in Denver and all that matters is how he leads this current team. This season is a much different story from last season as well.
Last season, although more was expected, a playoff loss was easier to cope with as the Knicks ran into a Miami Heat team that was dominant and really had no business losing to anyone in the NBA with the way they were playing.
This year, as it stands today, the Knicks boast their best winning percentage since the 1996-97 season and are on pace for their first Atlantic Division title since 1993-94. Those accolades also bring immense pressure to the team to win in the playoffs, and a first round victory is almost required for this team.
If everything works out in the best way for Melo and the Knicks, the team will be a number two seed and division winner while having the NBA leading scorer as their star player. Even if it doesn’t, this is still a great Knick team that already hit the 50-win plateau. The mood of this team is a change from last year and the record shows that they are a top team. The pressure and expectations continue to rise with every win and most of that pressure will fall on directly Carmelo Anthony to break his bad playoff streak and do some adequate damage in the playoffs.