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NBA New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony is the man behind the New York Knicks’ 2013 slump

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Had the New York Knicks been able to sustain their early season success, this team would almost be a lock to appear in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, despite maintaining third place in the Eastern Conference standings, the Knicks look nowhere near a championship contender and Carmelo Anthony is partly to blame.

New York’s 8-1 start to the regular season is nothing more than a distant memory, and a disastrous 2013 campaign has seen the Knicks play only slightly better than .500 basketball thus far. A disappointing 7-6 record in January only worsened in February when they went 6-5, an incredible departure from the team-orientated playing style that attracted a great deal of positive attention during the early stages of the season.

Knicks’ captain Anthony recently insinuated the extended slump was a result of poor on-court effort.

“I don’t know,” Anthony said after a March loss. “I saw one of the college teams was having a drill where they was throwing the ball out of bounds, jumping off the court and diving on the floor. So maybe we should start doing that.”

Anthony may want to instead start looking at his usage. He attempted a season-low 19.3 field goal attempts, and shot slightly below 47 percent in New York’s hugely successful November, but that figure hasn’t seen any type of consistency. His field goal attempts peaked in January at 25.4, but he shot just 42 percent from the field during the stretch. He reduced that number to 21.7 in February only to see his shooting bottom out at 40.6 percent.

New York has started March in similar fashion – after defeating the hapless Wizards on March 1, the Knicks suffered a home loss to the Heat on Sunday with Anthony again leading the team in scoring. He was far more efficient in this one, scoring 32 points on 9-of-19 shooting with 13 made free throws, but New York’s next best weapons were Jason Kidd (14 points) and Amar’e Stoudemire (12 points) shooting an unusually efficient 10-of-14 field goals combined.

Carmelo Anthony needs to take some of the blame for New York’s lackluster play. His return to being a ball-dominant, shoot-first player means the Knicks have been unable to find a reliable second option scorer. This is a team capable of postseason success, but that notion stems with Anthony once again accepting the tried-and-true team ball approach.