New York Knicks' Cleanthony Early Not An Immediate Backup For Carmelo Anthony

By Gustavo Braga
Getty Images
Getty Images

The New York Knicks played last season with a variety of lineups, from small ball to classic one-to-five naturals, but in the end it didn’t work out so great. Something about the chemistry on the floor just wasn’t right, but that doesn’t mean the team will drift away from the small ball concept. With the addition of Derek Fisher as head coach and the installment of the triangle offense, the team will be even more versatile and some pieces are going to be used a lot. Carmelo Anthony is one of those pieces.

The small forward is one of the best in the league at his position, but what makes him special is his ability to play power forward. With a strong body and great skills to create his own shots, he was a walking mismatch against defenders, being often faster and more skilled than them. A competent passer and great shooter, he will surely be on the floor for whatever formation Fisher chooses to run with.

What about Cleanthony Early?

Considering the amount of wingmen on the roster, the Knicks will have many possibilities when it comes to choosing who is on the floor, but I think the veterans will get the gig in the beginning of the season. Anthony will probably start at SF when Fisher tries out Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani‘s health and ability to play the triangle.

Early could play three while Melo is at four. Early could even play four on very small lineups in an attempt to spread the floor, but I doubt it. Compared to Melo, he is not as strong physically to clash against the NBA power forwards, what would be a great disadvantage for him in the paint. Besides, his shot is not as accurate yet, so his offensive game would be a large downgrade from when the superstar is on the court. Most importantly, though, is the defensive aspect of the game.

With the addition of Jose Calderon and the fact that Tyson Chandler left the team, the Knicks are considerably weaker on the defensive end, and that will be taken into account when choosing the lineup. To compensate for Anthony’s defensive issues, Iman Shumpert and Samuel Dalembert will have to be utilized. Those two can guard the perimeter and the rim respectively and let Melo do his thing offensively.

So that leaves the rookie with very few scenarios. He will play SF when Anthony is not playing four, acting like a regular wingman off ball moving and spot up shooting, a.k.a a regular line up with Amar’e Stoudemire as PF and Dalembert as center. He will play whatever position on blowout wins. That’s pretty much it for the rookie in the beginning of the season, at least until he improves his defensive efforts and gains a little weight to go against bigger guys.

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