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Carmelo Anthony.

Carmelo Anthony is evolving amid the circus of the New York Knicks

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Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. It was supposed to be the trade to bring the glory days back to Madison Square Garden. It was supposed to be the start of the Knicks being an NBA force once again. 

In reality, though, it was nothing more than a footnote in the era of LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Anthony joined the Knicks in February 2011, but now in 2016, the Heat/James era is over. Finished.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are now the NBA's leaders. Small-ball is, seemingly, the next step in the evolution of the Association. Times have indeed changed. Outside of the Knicks, that is.

TIME FOR CHANGE

For as everything else changes, things just seem to stay the same in New York. Struggling to make the playoffs. Poor player acquisition. Failing to get the best out of their star man. Anthony himself even spoke recently about the Knicks needing to make the best of his prime years.

But whilst Anthony worries about time, Phil Jackson has enjoyed spending his time holidaying in recent weeks. The Knicks needed a new head coach during that period, but that small task could wait a while, obviously.

So far, Jackson has hired head coaches that he believes can implement the triangle offence that he so stoutly believes in. Eleven championship rings explains why. But surprise reports now suggest former Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek is set to take the reigns in New York.

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers

NEW DIRECTION?

The head coach free agency list has been plentiful this summer. However, Hornacek was not a leading name on that list. A sudden change in direction, perhaps? A move away from the triangle? It's a surprise appointment. It's also a move which would seemingly make the Knicks less triangle-based. 

Hornacek tends to favour an up-tempo style of play. The triangle offence has not been in his arsenal to this point. Could he now incorporate parts of the triangle into his gameplans? Sure. But it at least seems unlikely to now be the same rigid, triangle-or-nothing protocol moving forward. In the short term at least.

For as much as the appointment could well turn out to be a master-stroke by Jackson. Hornacek could also just as easily be fired by Christmas. The Knicks could be right back to square one come this time next year. Looking for another head coach.  And so on goes the circus for another go-around...

Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns

EVOLUTION

Something that is more certain, though, is Anthony's evolution as a player. It was often speculated how the triangle does not suit him. How the system is based on movement to create space around a big man on the block.

Whereas Anthony just wants the ball and for everybody else to then just get out the way. Well, perhaps not anymore. A look at Anthony's season suggests a growth to his game. An attempt to be more a of a team player.

The small forward's points scored were down to 21.8 per game - the third lowest of his 13 seasons to date. And points are all that's ever really mattered when it comes to Melo, right? He's a points-scorer extraordinaire. An offensive juggernaut. But points alone do not tell the entire story for Anthony in 2015-16. 

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

TEAM PLAYER

The points may be down, but the 31-year-old had his lowest number of field goal attempts in over a decade, with just 18.2 shots per game. Whilst his assists were the highest of his career, dishing out 4.2 per game. Less shots, more passes. 

More passing and creating for others didn't lead to more turnovers for Anthony, either. It was his second-best season for turnovers at 2.4 per game. He drew less personal fouls than ever before, too, extracting 4.4 fouls a game.

Which speaks to less head down, driving to the basket. And more head up, looking for others. Consequently, however, points in the paint was the lowest of his career, with just 5.4 points a game coming down low. 

New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns

What about rebounds? Anthony put up his second-best rebounding season of his career, with 7.7 boards per game. Defensive rebounding, in particular, was a career year at 6.4 per outing. Anthony showed progression this season in terms of being a more rounded, team-oriented basketball player. An evolution as a senior player in his 13th NBA campaign.

RISING STAR

Batman also suddenly now has a Robin after the arrival - and surprise emergence - of rookie Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks management deserves credit for that. Porzingis was booed out of town when the Knicks selected him with their fourth pick in last year's draft but is now the rising star of the NBA. 

The 20-year-old gives Anthony somebody to play off. Somebody he can have confidence in and trust. If the Knicks put more talent around Anthony, then rather than his influence declining in his later years, it can help him grow in a different direction as a player and a leader.

Anthony is entering a stage in his career where he has to adjust. He needs to tweak his game because being a dynamic, isolation scorer gets tougher once you're in your thirties. He's doing that. Anthony is holding up his end of the bargain. It's now time the Knicks did the same.

Topics:
New York Knicks
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
NBA
Carmelo Anthony
Robin Lopez

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