The Knicks playoff hopes seem to be hinging on Carmelo Anthony. But he can't do it alone. (Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE)
All eyes are on Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks look to solidify their playoff spot. But other Knicks need to perform, too.
It's now on Carmelo Anthony.
That's what the overwhelming sentiment is surrounding the New York Knicks since it became known that Amare Stoudemire would likely miss the bulk of the rest of the regular season. There's an air of truth to it, for sure. Despite it being a down year for him, Stoudemire was averaging 17.6 points a game this season, and the Knicks need to find a way to make up many of those points. Anthony, the team's best player, best scorer and go-to-guy is the man everyone immediately points to as the solution. It's ironic, given that Anthony was being blamed for single-handedly killing the teamwork and flow that was brought upon by the Jeremy Lin surge.
The truth is, Anthony was always getting too much of the blame when the Knicks were struggling, and now too much is being heaped on him to lead the Knicks to the playoffs. Forget the fact that Anthony is totally banged up himself (and he deserves more credit than he's getting for playing through injuries and never using them as a crutch to his own sub-par performance).
The Knicks still employ Lin (the guy seemingly everyone wanted to lead the franchise forward after a seven game winning streak) as well as Tyson Chandler. Chandler helped the Mavericks win a championship last year, and has been the most consistent Knick all season. He has a chance to win the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year. By all accounts he's healthy. There's no reason to think Chandler won't keep his consistent ways, but he certainly has to if the Knicks are going to clinch a playoff spot.
Lin has been banged up and will likely miss Wednesday's game against the Orlando Magic. The Knicks can tread for a little bit without Lin, but when he returns he's the unquestioned starting point guard. Lin doesn't need to be the focal point of the offense, that duty should fall to Anthony, but he has to continue to keep the turnovers down. His fourth quarter efficiency has been one of his greatest characteristics. With defenses having one less player to key on in late-game situations, Lin will be expected to continue to make clutch plays with the ball in his hand.
When the Linsanity was at its height, the Knicks' bench flourished. Guys like Steve Novak, and J.R. Smith showed that they have the ability to fill it up and catch fire, but both have trailed off a bit as of late (everybody can see that except for Smith, who shoots as though it's going out of style). Smith and Novak are both capable of helping pick up the scoring slack. And while he's more of a defensive stopper, rookie Iman Shumpert is another bench player with enough athleticism to make a impact offensively.
With just a two game cushion for a playoff spot and 16 games remaining, the Knicks don't have much room for error. They will lean heavily on their banged-up best player, Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has been in the position before of being the "guy" on a team, but no one can do it alone. The Knicks will need to continue to get contributions from all around if they're to make the playoffs. If they don't, right or wrong, it seems like Anthony will get a brunt of the blame.