The New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder are both early season surprises, thanks in large part to the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade.
The New York Knicks are off to an unexpected hot start, and the players received in return for Carmelo Anthony have played an enormous role. Doug McDermott and Enes Kanter have both had their fingerprints on what the Knicks have accomplished thus far.
Kanter has been extremely active on the boards and in the post, averaging 13.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game with much-improved defensive effort. Kanter ranks 10th in the NBA in rebounds per game, and propels the Knicks to ninth overall in points in the paint per game.
McDermott’s contributions may not necessarily show up in the box score like Kanter. The fourth-year forward has provided the Knicks with a spark plug off the bench, both offensively and with his play on the other end of the court.
Simply put: The Knicks would not be playing the type of team basketball they’re playing without the pieces obtained from the Carmelo Anthony trade. The evidence is in the statistics.
Now here’s where the Carmelo Anthony effect comes into play.
Though it’s early, the Knickerbockers rank 11th in offensive efficiency this season after finishing 19th last season. The Oklahoma City Thunder this season are ranked 21st in offensive efficiency.
There’s no knocking Anthony as a player; he can go through stretches where he scores at will. However, he stops the flow of an offense, which is detrimental to team basketball.
You can see the difference in the Knicks this season.
Anthony’s ball-stopping may have been holding head coach Jeff Hornacek back from implementing a system that fits his brand of basketball.
While Phil Jackson had a lot to do with Hornacek being limited, Anthony also had that effect, as it’s noticeable that Hornacek loves to push the ball up the floor and then rely on ball movement to get the best shot off. With Melo on the floor, there was rarely such a thing as ball movement.
Think of it as addition by subtraction. The assets obtained in the trade with OKC are performing, but the most prominent move made by the Knicks may have been allowing the ball to move freely without Anthony on the roster.
Also, Kristaps Porzingis has been freed without Anthony. He can finally play the way he wants to play, and everyone knows just how well that’s worked out thus far. Porzingis is an early MVP candidate, and the only thing capable of slowing him down is himself.
One thing is clear: The Knicks are a better basketball team now than they were with Melo on the roster.
The evidence is staring the NBA world right in the face. The New York Knicks seem to be the early winners of the Carmelo Anthony trade.