Twenty years from now, people will remember the 2011-12 Knicks' season as the Year of Jeremy Lin.
Lin, as we all know, came off the end of the Knicks' bench in February and nearly turned the season around by himself.
New York was seven games under .500 when Lin took over. Thanks in part to Lin's run, the Knicks finished the season in seventh place in the East and made the playoffs for the second straight year.
But giving Lin all of the credit for the Knicks' turnaround would be misguided.
Anyone who paid close attention to the team last spring knows that the Knicks don't make the playoffs without Carmelo Anthony.
From late March to the end of the regular season, Anthony put the team's scoring burden on his back, single-handedly carrying the Knicks to the finish line.
He won the NBA's player of the month award in April -- and deservedly so.
In the first nine games of the month, he averaged 32 points and hit nearly half (47 percent) of his 3's. He also had two 40-point games in April, and a 35-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist triple double against the Celtics.
He did all this with Lin and Amare Stoudemire sidelined due to injury. And he did it while playing playing power forward in place of Stoudemire.
Which begs the question: will Mike Woodson give Anthony extended minutes at the '4' this year? One veteran scout thinks it would be a good idea.
"I like him at the power forward," the scout, who is responsible for observing Atlantic Division teams, said of Anthony. "I think he's much more effective; he gets it in the post and the mid post where he likes it on the left side and he can step out and stretch the defense with his outside shooting as well. It gives him more freedom and he faces guys that he's quicker than at the 4."
The numbers bear that out.
In 13 games starting at power forward last season (during Stoudemire's absence), Anthony averaged 30 points per 36 minutes on 50.5 percent shooting, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Knicks' offensive rating with Anthony at power forward was 108.9.
In 42 games at small forward, Anthony averaged 21.8 points per 36 minutes on 40.1 percent shooting and the Knicks' offensive rating (a measure of points scored per 100 possessions) was 100.4.
As the scout points out, moving Anthony to power forward can also help on defense, an area where he is oft-critisized for not giving a consistent effort.
"The (power forwards) won't be as quick (as small forwards Anthony would normally match up with)," the scout says. "So he'll be able to keep those guys in front of him and he's pretty strong. He can play decent post defense."
The numbers from last season indicate a slight uptick for Anthony's defense as a power forward.
In 42 games with Anthony at small forward, the Knicks allowed an average of 100.4 points per 100 possessions. In 13 games with Anthony at power forward, that number dropped to 99.2.
"He can definitely benefit from more minutes there," another Eastern Conference scout says.
The trick for Woodson, of course, is to find minutes for Anthony at power forward this year. When Stoudemire was out late last season with a back injury, it was easy to slide Anthony to power forward.
But with Stoudemire healthy, he and Anthony will have to be split up to get Anthony time at power forward.
Woodson, though, has vowed to make the Anthony-Stoudemire pairing work. He seems to be committed to playing Anthony and Stoudemire on the floor at the same time together. The pairing hasn't worked out as well as most expected when Anthony came over from Denver in Feb. 2011.
Splitting Anthony and Stoudemire up for extended minutes may benefit both players.
It would allow Anthony to play at power forward and would free Stoudemire to operate as the top scoring option, a role occupied by Anthony when both players are on the floor.
"It's something he'll definitely have to consider," the Atlantic Division scout says, "I don't know how Amare would take it, but it could benefit both players."
Question: Do you want Anthony to get increased minutes at power forward this season?
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