Many people are quick to point to Tyson Chandler’s injury as a cause for the New York Knicks’ slow start. If Chandler’s absence is to blame for a 3-12 record, Knicks fans should shudder at the thought of Carmelo Anthony going down for any extended period of time. Chandler is likely the Knicks’ more important player, but without Anthony, the Knicks won’t exactly be piling up wins, either.
This is a thought Woodson should keep in mind the next time he trots Anthony out for 40 minutes in a game. Currently, Anthony is averaging 40.2 minutes per game, tied for most in the league. The number is easily the highest of his career, too. The closest Anthony has come to 40 mpg in his career has been 38.2, which he did in 2006-07 and 2009-10. In those seasons, he was 22 and 25 years old, respectively. Now, at 30-years old with 10 NBA seasons on his belt, Anthony really isn’t in a position to log such heavy minutes.
Anthony’s durability can be questioned, too. Though he’s never missed huge chunks of time in his career, he’s only played 75 or more games four times in his career, the most recent season being 2007-08. Last year, Anthony missed 15 games for the Knicks, but he also played 37 minutes per game — only slightly higher than his career average of 36.3 — and he played through injuries while also manning power forward. Anthony isn’t playing the four as much this season — an arguably more physically taxing position than small forward — but the difference in minutes is huge.
This year, Anthony is carrying more of the load for the Knicks. He’s rebounding at career-best rates, bringing in 9.9 boards per game, and his usage percentage is still quite high, 32.5%, which is higher than his career average of 31.7%. In terms of scoring, too, ‘Melo is carrying a great burder for New York. The Knicks average 85 shot attempts per game, and currently, Anthony is taking 22.3 of them. He could lighten his load by calling his number less often — something that might actually benefit the team — but otherwise, the amount of work he’s doing in such high minutes can only lead to a burn-out.
Given the uphill battle the Knicks now face to get back into the playoff picture, it’s unlikely that Anthony’s minutes will be going down by much any time soon. Simply put, if Woodson continues to play Anthony 40 minutes a night, it will eventually lead to an injury. Keep in mind that Anthony is coming off of a torn labrum from last season, an injury he chose not to have operated. Considering the amount of work he’s doing just to keep the Knicks competitive in games, the high minutes and work will eventually take a toll on his body.
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