Opening Tip: Where should Melo play?
October, 3, 2013
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony has hinted he will start the season at small forward. But does he belong there?GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Let's be clear from the top: Mike Woodson hasn't made any lineup decisions yet and we are a ways away from Woodson committing to a starting five.
But from what Woodson and others are saying early on in training camp, it sounds like Carmelo Anthony may start the season at small forward.
Anthony hinted that Woodson was leaning that way in an interview after Wednesday's practice.
"I'm pretty sure me being around Woody these last couple years, I know his mindset," Anthony said. "And I know if it's not going right, then I know he's going to throw me back at [power forward] to try to make some adjustments. So my mindset is just [to] be prepared for that. If that time comes, when that time comes, it's not going to be any different; I just slide right back over. ... I'm not too concerned about that."
Now, there are two schools of thought here. Some, like Woodson, downplay the impact of Anthony playing at small forward or power forward. The thinking is that Anthony will be able to take advantage of either defender -- a wing or a big.
But the numbers from last season are hard to ignore.
Here's what our Tom Haberstroh wrote about Anthony's play at power forward last season for his Knicks player profiles:
After spending just 19 percent of the Knicks' minutes at power forward in 2011-12, that portion jumped to 48 percent last season, according to 82games.com tracking. The result was a decongested offense that afforded Melo the space to win the NBA's scoring title with 28.7 points per game.
Playing power forward allowed Anthony to post up nearly 40 percent more often than he did in the previous season. That increase in post possessions worked out well for Anthony and the Knicks.
But will he have the same opportunities in the post if he plays small forward this year? If Metta World Peace or Andrea Bargnani are at the power forward, both players can space the floor well. So Anthony should have plenty of chances to post up.
You can make an argument that the bigger impact of playing Anthony at small forward is on defense. Anthony had some success last season guarding bigger, slower players in the post instead of chasing quicker small forwards around the perimeter. If he's forced to guard small forwards this season, is that the best thing for the Knicks?
Which brings us to today's question: Where would you like to see Carmelo Anthony play? Power forward or small forward? Or does it not matter to you?
UP NOW: Mike Woodson had some harsh words for soon-to-be-suspended swingman J.R. Smith. For what it's worth, Smith believes he knows why he struggled so much in the playoffs: he angered the NBA gods. Also, Woodson said Jason Collins' name came up during offseason discussions and Kenyon Martin sat out of a portion of practice on Wednesday. Not sure why.
Lastly, Anthony offered a strong endorsement of Woodson and intimated that he's in the best shape of his career, which is significant for the Knicks.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks will have their third training camp practice on Thursday. We'll have you updated on Twitter and on ESPNNewYork.com's Knicks blog all day. Also, check back around noon for the latest on Tyson Chandler's health and the new wrinkle he hopes to add on offense.
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.