After having a breakout 2012 Summer Olympic men’s basketball tournament, can New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony carry his post-Olympic momentum in the 2012-13 season?
With NBA training camps three weeks away, players such as Lebron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose are considered early pre-season MVP favorites, one player who may be getting overlooked as a serious MVP contender is Anthony.
Anthony, in his second full year with the Knicks averaged 22.6 points, 3.6 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game.
The former third overall pick out of Syracuse would average 25.0 points in December, 23.6 in January, 16.5 in February, 19.4 in March and a MVP-like 29.8 points a game in April, 5.1 points higher than his career average of 24.7
In the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat, Anthony would average 27.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 41.6 minutes, However, New York would bow out four games to one.
It would be in the 2012 Summer Olympics that Anthony would take his game to the next level.
While it is not too common to mention “breakout” and “superstar” in the same sentence, Anthony’s Team USA record of 37 points and 10 three pointers in a 156-73 rout of Nigeria may qualify as that.
The Nigeria game would serve as the springboard for his Anthony’s solid play in London and help the United States win its 14th gold medal in 17 Olympic men’s appearances.
In eight games, Anthony averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists as the American’s sixth man. Anthony would shoot 50 percent from three-point range, 53 percent from the field and shot 79 percent from the free-throw line.
Anthony’s 16.3 points per game would be second on the team behind Durant, who would average 19.5 points per game. Anthony’s 23 three-point shots made would also be second on the team behind Durant, who would make 34.
His 130 points would be second behind Durant’s Team USA record 156 total points. After such a stellar performance in the Olympics, there is no reason why Anthony can elevate his game during the 2012-13 NBA season, right?
One would think after being surrounded by great players such as James, Bryant and Durant that it will add a proverbial chip on his shoulder and a extra sense of motivation, since for the most part–and being one of the marquee faces of the league–Anthony has been playing in their shadow.
There is no question or doubt that Anthony has the tools, both athletically and physically, but the question that needs to be answered is, can he make the same mental leap that James made this past spring?
If there is a stigma that has followed Anthony from the Rockies to Manhattan is that he is selfish and reluctant to play defense. Whether or not that is true, Anthony’s play for Team USA this past summer showed that he has the ability to be a real team player, as one of the things that makes a MVP is the ability to make his fellow teammates better.
Can he win the 2012-13 NBA Most Valuable Player Award? Yes.
With the recent free-agent acquisitions of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Ronnie Brewer along with the more defensive-minded hard-nosed approach of head coach Mike Woodson, Anthony has a more experienced backcourt to work with than the one-man media circus known as Jeremy Lin.
While Lin was a serviceable point guard who would bring unprecedented media hype and buzz to Madison Square Garden, his suspect play and tendency to turn the ball over is why he is a Houston Rocket and no longer a Knickerbocker.
Anthony, who is supposed to be the marquee guy in New York, no longer has to worry about the distraction of “Lin-sanity” and can firmly focus on helping the Knicks make a deep playoff run this coming spring.
With a talented frontcourt of power forward Amar’e Stoudamaire and reigning NBA Defensive player Of The Year, Tyson Chandler, there is no reason why the Knicks be consider a legitimate contender in the East.
If Anthony can continue his strong play from the Olympics and last April, there is no reason why he may not only be a contender, but a real possibility of being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2012-13.
Robert D. Cobb is the NBA Network Manager for Rant Media Network, Featured Writer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Featured Columnist for the Cleveland Browns and Arsenal Gunners.
In addition to covering the NBA, I also cover MLB, NFL, NHL and Champions League soccer news, rumors and opinions, please follow me on Twitter at @RobertCobb_76