The MVP award is by no means as important as the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but it is something. It celebrates the type of consistent performance that makes people gravitate toward the TV when an NBA game is on. It is usually given to the cornerstone of any given successful franchise, be it a scorer, a facilitator or just a leader in general. In 2014, Kevin Durant rightfully received the honors and in 2015, the New York Knicks have the opportunity to be represented in the MVP race by their superstar, Carmelo Anthony.
Although he was the second-leading scorer during last season, Melo was still behind LeBron James in the race for MVP and that is because of two main reasons: James was the leader of a winning team and he played defense.
He ended up not winning the championship, but he did take his team to another NBA Finals. An offensive force, James was also the center piece of his team’s defense, guarding anyone from point guard to power forward. He has been a leader on the court and in the locker room and has showed the world why he is the best player of his generation.
I’m not saying Melo needs to get at James’ level, but I’m saying he needs to try. At the end of the day he needs to want it. He just signed a five-year $124 million contract, so he could have just sat around during the offseason to think about what he is going to do with the money, but he didn’t.
At the moment Melo seems to want it bad. The way he has been behaving himself publicly, praising Phil Jackson‘s new cultural change in the franchise, working harder than ever to be in the best shape of his career and making sure his young supporting cast stays on the same page as him — through constant offseason workouts and events he organizes — is a sign that he will do what it takes to win, and winning is probably the best possible start for an MVP candidate.
If Melo keeps this type of energy and focus on getting his team to be successful, being the leader New York expects him to be and putting in the effort on the defensive end night in and night out (while obviously performing the way he always has on the offensive end), the 30-year-old forward could become the first Knicks player to win an MVP title since Willis Reed in 1970.