The New York Knicks are a true basketball team. They move the ball, play good defense, win at home, say all the right things in press conferences and genuinely seem to enjoy their teammates on and off the court. And, at 20-7, they are the second best team in the Eastern Conference, behind a team that New York has beaten twice by 20 points.
However, in today’s NBA, every elite team needs a superstar, a go-to-guy, a hero; in New York, that man is Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony is the MVP of the first 27 games of the Knicks season. He has given up all of the nonsense that held him back earlier in his career, no longer is disinterested on defense and no longer shows indifference toward losses. This season, Melo is diving into the stands after loose balls, playing hard defense and not settling for anything but wins, regardless of how many points he scores.
Behind only Kobe Bryant (29.7 points per game) for the league lead in scoring with 28.0 points, Anthony has been the most efficient that he has been in the past five seasons, shooting 47.2% from the field, and 44.8% from beyond the arc.
Sure, Kevin Durant and LeBron James are having spectacular seasons in their own rights, but they have not had the influence over their teams that Anthony has had in New York in 2012-13.
The culture is different with the Knicks. The team is committed to defense thanks to coach Mike Woodson, the ball moves to each player without constant isolation play, each player contributes differently and consistently and every single person that wears the Knicks logo wants to win and won’t accept losing.
I suppose it could be said that the Knicks are back, thanks largely (but not entirely) to one player: Carmelo Anthony.