Monday, February 4, 2013
Opening Tip: Melo in pick-and-rolls
By Jared Zwerling
Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Should Mike Woodson run more pick-and-rolls featuring Carmelo Anthony as the primary ball handler?
Anthony has always been able to take his man off the dribble. But this season, Woodson has focused on putting his star player in different positions to score more easily -- for example in the low post, where he can use his size and strength, and beyond the arc.
Melo is also scoring more efficiently out of a half-court play that was rarely run for him earlier in his career. To the surprise of some, Melo's been much more effective facilitating pick-and-rolls than facing up his defender in isolation this season.
"He's capable of doing a lot of other things on the floor, too," Woodson said.
While he's been in isolation setups 29.4 percent of the time, he's averaging 0.879 points per play. But while he's been the pick-and-roll ball handler 10.4 percent of the time, he's averaging 0.964 points per play -- fifth best in the NBA (minimum 100 possessions).
In fact, Anthony has been practicing the two-man game with Tyson Chandler dating back to last season. Melo was third in the league in points per play as the pick-and-roll ball handler last year. But he ran the play only 133 times. So far this season, he's already up to 110.
Melo in pick-and-rolls puts even more pressure on opponents because he's such a switch nightmare for his pull-up, driving and 3-point abilities. His presence creates open lanes for Chandler and shots for his teammates.
"That's something we work on," Melo said. "You've got to honor Tyson rolling, you've got to honor me coming off. Some teams switch, some teams trap the pick-and-roll. That gives us more options to find Tyson or find other guys."
Overall, Anthony's court awareness on offense has looked sharper this season, especially because the ball flow has improved with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd's help. In addition, Melo is trusting his experienced supporting cast, many of whom can hit the 3-pointer.
Case in point: They had a season-high 19 of them against the Kings on Sunday night. Melo, in fact, had only two points in the first half, but he had five assists. In two possessions, he made a heads-up skip pass to J.R. Smith for a 3-pointer, and then attacked and dished to Smith for another.
"When you've got your main scorer that can draw so much attention, and he's a great passer on top of that, that only makes your team that much stronger," Felton said.
With that being said, do you think Woodson should run more pick-and-rolls featuring Anthony? Leave us your comments below.