Jan 11, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek talks with forward Carmelo Anthony (7) in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 98-97. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek will consider moving Carmelo Anthony to power forward. Here are five reasons he should make the change.
The New York Knicks are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in recent franchise history. Despite entering the 2016-17 NBA regular season with postseason-caliber hype, the Knicks are six games below .500 and in the midst of a historically poor stretch.
As the Knicks ponder what the solution to their problems may be, moving Carmelo Anthony to power forward has inevitably presented itself as an option.
Anthony has played small forward for the better part of his NBA career, but has reached a point in his career where a change of position may be mutually beneficial. Not only would it make the game easier for Anthony, but it would help the Knicks on both ends of the floor.
According to Al Iannazzone of Newsday, Hornacek was asked if he’d be willing to move Anthony to power forward and appeared receptive to the idea.
“Some day KP will come back, so that will change it again, what we do,” Hornacek said. “Obviously in this stretch we’re in, we’re looking at everything, and all possibilities.”
In other words: moving Anthony to power forward on a full-time basis is a legitimate possibility.
It’s worth noting that Anthony started at power forward when the Knicks played the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 16. That move was admittedly made by necessity with both Kristaps Porzingis and Lance Thomas sidelined, but it yielded intriguing results.
The question is: what would the short-term and long-term benefits be of the New York Knicks moving Carmelo Anthony to power forward on a full-time basis?
Dec 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) takes a shot while being defended by Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
5. The Ultimate Stretch 4
The NBA has fallen in love with power forwards who can space the floor and convert from beyond the arc. Carmelo Anthony is far more than a spot up shooter, but his ability to space the floor rates amongst the best in the Association.
If Anthony were to line up at power forward, he’d receive opportunities to work without the ball and develop a rhythm without having to grind out every shot attempt.
Thus far in 2016-17, Anthony is shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 34.0 percent from 3-point range on catch-and-shoot jumpers. Those are two highly efficient marks that display just how dominant he can be when working off-ball.
Anthony proved it during his start at power forward on Jan. 16, when he posted 30 points and was assisted on both of his converted 3-point field goals—the catalysts to his success.
Despite those efficient numbers, 46.3 percent of Anthony’s possessions have ended with pull up jump shots. By moving to power forward, Anthony would be tasked with taking fewer long jumpers off the bounce and receive more opportunities off the catch.
As Olympic ‘Melo consistently proves, when he’s allowed to play the first three quarters in a predominantly off-ball capacity, he can conserve energy and dominate the fourth.
Jan 11, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) dribbles past Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington (33) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
4. No More Settling
As previously alluded to, 45.9 percent of Carmelo Anthony’s possessions end with pull up jump shots. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing given Anthony’s isolation proficiency, but the Knicks need to get him better looks at the basket.
If there’s one thing that a shift to power forward would enable, it’s Anthony attempting more shots from a reasonable distance.
In other words: the NBA’s elite small forwards attempt nearly twice as many shots from within 10 feet than Anthony.
By making the move to power forward, Anthony would receive a higher number of looks from 10 feet and within. That would help Anthony improve his overall level of efficiency and enable him to better diversify his scoring attack.
Anthony has been settling for jump shots throughout the 2016-17 NBA regular season, but a move to power forward would enable him to play a far more efficient and effective game.
Jan 16, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) attempts to block a shot by Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore (24) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
3. Enabling Easier Defense
Carmelo Anthony may have been solid on defense in 2015-16, but he’s been unable to find the magic in 2016-17. He’s struggling to stay in front of slashers and has been underwhelming with his closeouts on 3-point shooters.
The easiest way for Anthony to overcome these issues would be to play a position that has fewer explosive athletes and more stationary scorers: power forward.
Thus far in 2016-17, Anthony is allowing opponents to shoot 46.2 percent from the field—1.4 percent higher than their average field goal percentage. If you aren’t a fan of proximity statistics, then you can evaluate his impact on the team.
Considering New York is nearly eight points per 100 possessions better on defense without Anthony, something needs to change. Moving Anthony to power forward would cause the defense to suffer in some areas, but his individual defensive proficiency would improve.
If the franchise player were to improve on defense, one is inclined to believe the rest of the team would improve with him.
January 5, 2013; Orlando FL, USA; New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson talks with small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2. The Track Record
The single most important aspect of Carmelo Anthony potentially moving to power forward is that it’s worked before. For those unfamiliar, the New York Knicks moved Anthony to power forward for the 2012-13 NBA regular season.
It’s no coincidence that 2012-13 was both Anthony’s best individual season and the Knicks’ best campaign since the 1990s.
Anthony finished the 2012-13 NBA regular season with averages of 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.0 offensive boards, 2.6 assists, and 2.3 3-point field goals made per game. He did so on an efficient slash line of .449/.379/.830.
Most importantly, Anthony led New York to 54 wins and the Atlantic Division title—the most wins by a Knicks team since 1996-97 and the first division title since 1993-94.
One could very easily argue that Anthony is surrounded by more talent in 2016-17 than he was in 2012-13. He may not be playing with a leader like Jason Kidd, but Kristaps Porzingis and Derrick Rose are better second and third scoring options than what Anthony had four years ago.
The fact that Anthony had one of his best games of the season in his lone appearance at power forward in 2016-17 doesn’t hurt, either.
Dec 9, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) talks with forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the second half at Golden 1 Center. The Knicks defeated the Kings 103-100. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
1. Thinking About The Future
The New York Knicks are approaching a turning point in the Phil Jackson era. No matter what’s transpired off the court, there are two players to watch on the floor: 32-year-old Carmelo Anthony and 21-year-old Kristaps Porzingis.
One could argue that the Knicks should put off this change, but what’s undeniable is that, at some point in the near future, it will need to happen.
Anthony is 32 years of age and declining athletically, but he has the perfect skill set to reclaim superstar status at power forward. Porzingis is 21 years of age and filling out physically, but he’s also the ultimate matchup nightmare at center.
The future of the Knicks is playing Anthony at the 4 and Porzingis at the 5, which is why moving Anthony to power forward would make sense sooner than later.
At the very least, head coach Jeff Hornacek should experiment with Anthony and Porzingis at the interior positions. That includes playing Anthony at power forward when Porzingis comes off the court and the veteran remains active.
Porzingis at center may be a situational tactic at this current juncture, but Anthony should get as many minutes as possible at power forward starting now.