Dec 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots a free throw during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks won 111-106. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Is Carmelo Anthony Carrying Too Much of a Load?


Though Carmelo Anthony hasn’t played as well as his near MVP-level season in 2012-13, it’s hard to find much to complain about. Through 23 games, Anthony has been the New York Knicks’ leading scorer, he’s upped his rebounding in Tyson Chandler’s absence, and he’s even tried to promote better ball movement to help his teammates out.

However, with all that said, it’s fair to worry if Anthony is carry too much of a load for this Knicks team. As the Knicks face a steep climb back to the top tier of the Eastern Conference, Anthony will be shouldering even more burden as he tries to lead the team through the muck in which they’ve placed themselves. Much like the way Anthony tends to dominate the ball at the end of games, hoping to finish the job himself, it’s reasonable to think he’ll try to put the pressure on himself to bring this team back to playoff levels.

Anthony’s usage percentage is down to 31% from 35% last season, but he’s still among the league leaders in that category. Anthony is the focal point of the Knicks offense, and he is currently averaging 26 points per game on nearly 21 shot attempts. Anthony has led the Knicks in scoring every game this season. And ‘Melo’s style of offense is physically exhausting, too. According to Synergy Sports, Anthony’s two most common plays on offense are post-ups and isolations, which rely on a lot of one-on-one work, and thus, are more physically taxing. Keep in mind that Anthony is coming off of a shoulder injury during the summer which he didn’t have surgically repaired. Too much work on the offensive end threatens the possibility of another injury which would be devastating to the Knicks.

As mentioned, Anthony’s rebounding has increased this season, too. His 9.2 boards per game are career-best, but his total rebound percentage is at 14.1% from now, higher than his career average of 10.2%. With Tyson Chandler injured, Anthony has assumed command on the boards, which has been fantastic, but it, too, takes a physical toll. Luckily, Chandler will be returning soon, and Anthony’s rebounding will slow down, but with Kenyon Martin now injured, Anthony will still have to keep working hard down low.

Overall, it’s a tough situation for Woodson and the Knicks to monitor. Anthony is playing nearly 40 minutes a night, and as the Knicks continue to stumble and play lousy basketball, Anthony will keep having to play high minutes to keep the team competitive. It doesn’t help, of course, when players like Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith are all under-performing and/or hurt, so Anthony has little in the way of support.

If the rest of the team gets on track, then Anthony can lighten the load a little bit. The Knicks face an uphill battle the rest of the season, and losing Anthony for any amount of time could be fatal.

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Tags: 2013-14 NBA Season Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks