By Ray Monell
But apocalyptic visions aside, the Knicks, at an NBA Eastern Conference-best 19-6, indeed look like serious contenders more than one-quarter into the 2012-13 season, and small forward Carmelo Anthony has a lot to do with that. Anthony is averaging 28 points per game on the season, which is second only to Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s average of 29.5.
Known for backing opponents into the paint for high-percentage (close-range) shots and knocking down mid-range jumpers, Anthony added the 3-pointer to his offensive repertoire after the Knicks’ first-round exit from the 2012 playoffs. The five-time NBA All-Star has made nearly 46 percent (55 of 120) of his field goal attempts from behind the 3-point line. As a team, New York’s shooting percentage from 3-point range is 40.4—the NBA’s second-highest conversion rate behind the Miami Heat’s 3-point field goal percentage of 40.9.
Of course, Anthony has benefited from playing under a terrific coach in Mike Woodson and being surrounded by talented and accomplished teammates. Point guard Raymond Felton and 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler are averaging 15.9 and 13 points per game, respectively; forward Steve Novak is among the league’s best 3-point shooters; shooting guard J.R. Smith has averaged 14.4 points per game coming off the bench; and point guard Jason Kidd and backup center Rasheed Wallace—each a one-time NBA champion—have added invaluable production and on-court leadership.
These pieces have functioned very effectively alongside Anthony, whose performance 25 games into this season certainly justifies the chants of “MVP! … MVP! … MVP!” that you’ll hear whenever he shoots free throws at Madison Square Garden. Should he sustain his current level of play—and the world not end today—the Knicks may be able to challenge Miami for something a bit more important than highest team 3-point shooting percentage next year.