Carmelo Anthony Will Have The Greatest Season Of His Career

Feb 20, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 103-95. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 103-95. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Carmelo Anthony has gotten a bad reputation since he’s come to the New York Knicks, and frankly, he’s deserved a lot of the hate. In 2011, he forced his way to New York right before the trade deadline.

It was in the last year of his deal with the Denver Nuggets and he could have waited until the offseason to sign with the Knicks. What ‘Melo really wanted was the money.

He could get a max five-year contract if he forced his way to New York in middle of the season; he could only get four if he signed as a free agent seeing as the Knicks didn’t have his rights.

In said trade, the Knicks were forced to give up every young asset they had in order to facilitate the deal, decimating their chances of competing. They were promptly swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs

Because ‘Melo had to get his money, he put the Knicks in a bad position.

Mar 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks up during a break in play during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Yet, Anthony has tried to prove himself numerous times to the people of this city. He’s made it his priority to win here, refusing to waive his no-trade clause for any suitor. His dedication to this team is admirable, and his numbers last season backed up his talk.

He posted his second-highest rebounding season with 7.7 a game, and his best season in assists averaging 4.2 per game. Even better than that was his assists percentage.

Assists percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor. ‘Melo posted a career high 21.9 percent in that category last season.

While his scoring dipped, his overall play improved. All of which leads to this simple conclusion: Carmelo Anthony will have his greatest NBA season in 2016-17.

How can I make such a blanket statement without any proof? Well, let’s go through all the signs pointing in this direction.

Anthony will arguably have the best team he’s ever had around him, which will allow him to play to his strengths. Remember that 54-win season in 2012-13? The Knicks won the Atlantic Division that year, and were second in the conference.

With Amar’e Stoudemire only playing 29 games that season, then head coach Mike Woodson decided to try something new: play Anthony at the 4.

Anthony actually played 72 percent of his minutes that season at the power forward, leading to his highest scoring season, averaging 28.7 points per game. Yet, once the playoffs came around, Woodson faltered, ‘Melo was back at small forward, and the Knicks were eliminated from the playoffs by the arch rival Pacers in the conference semifinals.

The Knicks haven’t made it back to the playoffs since.

Now lets look at this year’s roster. The Knicks were busy, adding Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings, among others. They also managed to re-sign Lance Thomas.

Thomas is an important piece to this puzzle, seeing as he can come off the bench and play at the 3, thus moving Melo to the 4, and Porzingis to the 5. That would limit Noah’s minutes in an effort to keep him healthy.

Mar 9, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) high fives forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) in the first half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

With so many shooters, Anthony will find himself with a lot more space then he’s ever had, playing at a position he thrives in, coming off a season where his confidence in passing to teammates escalated. Porzingis is what Anthony was hoping to find here when he joined Stoudemire all those years ago, A big man who can not only put the ball on the floor, but can also shoot and play defense.

Another factor is the coach. Jeff Hornacek brings stability and experience to a position that has plagued the Knicks for far too long. Since Mike D’Antoni resigned in 2012, a job he held since 2008, no Knicks coach has lasted more than two seasons.

Players need that stability in a leadership role in order to realize their full potential.

With Hornacek, the Knicks have not only a solid coach, but a former All-Star who played alongside Karl Malone and John Stockton on legendary teams. That kind of leadership will bring cohesion to a team hungry to make some noise in the playoffs.

You can knock Anthony all you want, but the fact remains that he’s a once-in-a-lifetime offensive player. He’s not only the best player on this team, but he has the best shot at making the Knicks a contender—and they are still undoubtedly his team.

He’s hungry to win, and he specifically wants to win here. He signed with New York for the money, yes, but he stayed here out of loyalty.

must read: A position-by-position breakdown of the New York Knicks' 2016-17 starting lineup

With all the pieces in place, Carmelo Anthony is poised to have the greatest season of his career.