Jake Brown | Twitter |
With Carmelo Anthony making his return to Madison Square Garden tonight when his Thunder take on the Knicks, it makes you think...what would the 15-13 Knicks look like right now if they kept Melo?
The Knicks were 31-51 last season. After 28 games last season, they had the same 15-13 record they have this year. They won their next game to go 16-13, and then the season took a turn for the worse. They fell below .500, had no winning streaks, and continued downard for the rest of the season.
The Knicks have already had three three-game winning streaks this season. Last year's team only had two three-game winning streaks all season. So essentially, after Saturday's game (the 29th of the season) was when the Carmelo Anthony-led Knicks begun their tailspin in 2016-17. I wouldn't expect any downfall that drastic by this Knicks team. The records right now are similar. The teams? Not at all.
Last year, the Knicks relied a lot on Melo. He had one of the worst seasons of his career, and he's been even worse with the Thunder this season. He's had to give up shots to Russell Westbrook and Paul George of course, but Melo is averaging a career-low 17.7 PPG, a career-low 40 percent from the field, a career-low 1.5 APG, a career-low 75.8 percent from the free throw line, and a career-low 32.9 MPG.
The Knicks may have traded the 33-year-old Anthony at the perfect time.
With Anthony on this year's team, the Knicks would probably be worse. They wouldn't have the ball movement that we are seeing from this team. We wouldn't see much progression from Kristaps Porzingis. We wouldn't see the vast improvement from Courtney Lee. We probably wouldn't see the explosiveness of Tim Hardaway, Jr.
A lot of things would be different, and the Knicks wouldn't be the fun, exciting team that we have seen so far through 28 games. They also wouldn't have the heart and leadership that Enes Kanter has brought this team -- it's a piece the Knicks surely didn't have last year with Melo.
The Knicks also wouldn't have Doug McDermott, whose 8.5 PPG doesn't do justice to how important he's been to this team off the bench. McDermott has hit huge buckets from downtown that have ignited a comeback or put the Knicks ahead, and he's quickly become one of the fan favorites.
Many people questioned the Knicks "only" getting Kanter and McDermott as a secondary part of the Melo deal. McDermott AKA Dougie McBuckets has been a huge lift for this team and is incredible off the court as well. The Knicks also got a second round draft pick in the deal, which could be a nice piece down the road.
Would the Knicks have close to a similar record right now if they kept Melo? Maybe. But they wouldn't be the same kind of team. They wouldn't have gotten the growth and development from some of these guys, like Porzingis.
The Unicorn has put on a show with 30-point games left and right, while mixing in some highlight reel dunks. This team has become must-watch every night and they have showed New York grit. They didn't have that with Melo in charge last season. It's more than just the record, it's about the direction and the future of the franchise, and right now, that looks better than it did with Melo.