Tag: Melo

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets

Former Nuggets staffer acknowledges trade rumors hurt play

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It was pretty clear by the end that impacts of the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors had bled onto the court for the Denver Nuggets. They were not the same team that started the season, the one that seemed to have potential.

Dean Oliver was a former front office guy and staticiscian for Denver who last month swtiched jobs to write and work for ESPN. Writing for TrueHoop, he provided some interesting insight into how the trade rumors really hit the Nuggets. He said early on it was not bad — and the Nuggets were winning. That changed.

But on January 9, in the early minutes of a home game against New Orleans, news leaked out that hometown hero Chauncey Billups was to be included in a potential trade package to go to the Nets, along with Anthony. As a member of the Denver front office at the time, I was in the arena that night. (I left the Nuggets to join ESPN a few weeks before the Anthony trade.) If there was a time when it looked like the public trade talk started hurting the Nuggets, it was then.

Almost half the team’s players saw their names out there as potential ex-Nuggets. It’s hard to work when your future is that tenuous. It’s hard for coaches to push players who may not have a long-term future with the team.

That Sunday night, with a very negative buzz in the arena, the team crawled to a 96-87 loss. Before a similar trade with New York finally got done, the Nuggets went just 12-10.

Oliver, a stats guy — THE stats guy — knows that a teams emotional state plays a big role, and it has with the Nuggets post trade.

Denver coach George Karl got his “play hard” team, and that’s what the Nuggets did right away: play hard. Since the deal, Denver’s defense has been just a hair behind the Bulls for best in the entire NBA, allowing more than 10 points per 100 possessions fewer than before the deal…

On the offensive side of the ball, the emotional impact is also clear, as the team is sharing the ball very well. Most of the players are using between 17 percent and 22 percent of the team’s possessions, a far cry from when Melo was using 31 percent. Assisted baskets are up to 63 percent, from only 54 percent prior to the deal.

Oliver goes on to talk about things such as how Ty Lawson has always played better as a starter (which is one reason Raymond Felton comes off the bench) and how this trade has been a boon for him.

Come the playoffs, it’s still hard to see Denver knocking off one of the big four teams in the West. But whoever gets them in the first round is going to have to work hard to knock them off. And if the other team isn’t willing to work hard…. somebody is going to get upset in the West. Denver could be that team moving on.

New York’s pick-up game defense neutralizes improved offense

New York Knicks v Miami Heat

Win three in a row, lose three in a row. Beat the Heat, get swept on a home-and-home by the Pacers.

Getting a read on the New York Knicks with Carmelo Anthony is hard because they are so erratic. They are 6-6 since the trade drama ended and have looked both like the team nobody wants to face in the first round and have looked like a team that will be swept right out of the playoffs.

Why? Their defense.

John Schuhmann over at NBA.com broke down the numbers and found that since the trade the Knicks offense has improved from 107.6 points per 100 possessions to 109.6. The problem is the defense went from giving up 106.1 points per 100 possessions to 109.2.

Since the break, the Knicks have the fourth-best offense in the league, but the 24th-best defense. And it’s not like they’ve been playing some offensive juggernauts in that stretch. In fact, eight of their last 12 opponents are in the bottom half of the league offensively. They allowed the Pacers to shoot 54 percent over two games in the last few days, after Indiana shot just 41 percent over their previous six games.

He went a step farther and noticed when Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony are on the court together, they allow 110.9 points per 100 possessions. The offense is at 110.5. So, essentially it’s a wash. We’ll add that the Knicks still have done the best when just Stoudemire is on the floor.

I hear the Knicks fans argument now — we traded away our depth to get two stars together. The defensive players can be put in place around them, but getting two stars had to be the priority. That is how you win a title. Plus, Chauncey Billups has been out for a number of those games.

Valid points. But the numbers are showing what our eyes have already seen — the Knicks have their stars but still have a long way to go to be contenders for anything. And that fixing the defense has got to be the off-season priority.

‘Melo wants you to know he is too a team player

New York Knicks v Dallas Mavericks

It’s been pretty hard to miss the glee coming out of the Rocky Mountains — Denver is 8-2 since the Carmelo Anthony trade and they are all too happy to tell you about how they are more of a team, how they are playing defense, how the sun shine feels warmer and how the bluebird of happiness now mops up the sweat at their practices.

George Karl can’t seem to help but take some backhanded digs at Anthony when he talks about the teamwork and ball movement in Denver.

The Knicks are 6-5 since the trade and have alternated between looking brilliant and looking like something you might step in when visiting one of those areas near the great lawn in Central Park where dogs get some run.

For the record, Anthony is pretty sick of the sniping from out West, as he told the New York Post.

“I really think they kind of don’t want me to have success in New York, the way I look at it,” Anthony said at this morning’s shootaround at Conseco Field House before the Knicks get their rematch vs. the Pacers. “I try not to think about that. I’ve been in Denver 7 ½ years. For me to move on was a hard thing to do. This is a business and I’ve cut my ties there. ”

“For me personally, it’s a matter of trying to make other guys better,” Anthony said. “I think it’s a challenge I take upon myself to get guys like Shawne Williams going, Landry (Fields) going, keep Toney (Douglas’) confidence up since he’s coming off the bench now with Chauncey (Billups) back.

Since coming to New York Anthony is assisting on about 17 percent of other teammates field goals when he is on the floor in New York, up from about 14.4 percent in Denver earlier this season. Anthony is also shooting a little more often as well (about a shot a game, or half a shot per 36 minute average).

Anthony is not completely selfish, but he’s also out there to score points. That’s what he does. He may be conscious about trying to set other guys up, but at the end of the day he was brought in to shoot the rock.

What will change the perception? Winning. That’s it. That changes everything in American sports. Right now Denver is winning more and they get to set the tone of debate because people are checking them out and listening to them. When the Knicks start winning more, people will praise how Anthony makes teammates better.

Even though he’s pretty much the exact same player, NYC or Denver.

Mike D’Antoni has tweaked offense to fit Anthony, Billups

Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups
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Seven seconds or less was the perfect Steve Nash offense. It was Joe Montana in a West Coast formation.

Nash is quick up the court, the best decision maker in the game, can shoot almost as well as he can pass. The offense was designed for him. It’s as close as turning a player loose to do what he wants as can happen in the NBA.

Chauncey Billups is not Steve Nash. Not better or worse, but different. More deliberate. He’s not nearly as quick as Nash. He is not suited for the classic Mike D’Antoni offense.

Nor is Carmelo Anthony, really. ‘Melo likes to work out of isolation sets, which clashes with a system designed on the idea of constant ball movement.

Howard Beck at the New York Times lays all that out and notes D’Antoni is the one that has to adjust his playbook to the talent he has been given.

“Probably,” D’Antoni said Thursday. “Really, there’s all kinds of different ways you can play it, and we’re going to try to maximize just what the players do….”

“We’re always going to be a little bit of an iso, one-on-one kind of a team, which, to be honest with you, is pretty good,” D’Antoni said, a declaration that would have made jaws drop in Phoenix.

He followed with some important qualifiers: that the Knicks cannot “totally fall into” a one-on-one game, that the ball still needs to move, that the floor should be spaced and that the scoring should be shared.

D’Antoni is bending his principles, but he is not about to shatter them.

“I think we’ll meet some place halfway in between,” he said Thursday, “because we don’t want to lose what Melo and those guys do the best. A lot of it is going one-on-one. They’re the best in the league at it.”

Beck breaks out the numbers — the Knicks are averaging 5 more possessions a game that are isolations or post ups now than they did before the trade. But they are actually averaging nearly one more possession a game than pre-trade. So maybe everyone is finding a compromise.

Carmelo Anthony’s Dear John letter to Denver fans

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony has gone from Denver. Because he forced his way out.

But, you know, he still loves you Denver fans. He really appreciates you.

Sure, he has moved on the next phase of his career. Bright lights and the big city. But he’ll always care about you.

That’s why he left you this goodbye letter on his Web site Thursday (via the Denver Post).

A Note to My Denver fans

I had to let you know how I felt about you, the city, my fans, my friends. You’ve been supportive of me and my NBA career for the past 8 years and that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Drafted when I was 19 I called Denver and the Nuggets my home. The city and the fans embraced me and watched me grow as a man and a player.

There are no words to express the gratitude and appreciation I have for Denver, the Nuggets and all the fans.

You will always be a part of my heart.

One Love,

I am certain Denver fans will let Anthony know of their feelings toward him next time he is in town. Then again, since they are 4-1 and playing good defense since he left, maybe they will get over him sooner than you think.