All the discussion about Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony being option 1A and 1B sounded good and fit nicely into stories written about the New York Knicks in the days after the trade, which brought Anthony to New York.
The reality of the situation is that this is now Carmelo Anthony’s show and he isn’t sharing the top billing with anybody. Amare is back to being number two, a very important two, but still number two. If you don’t believe it, go see who has the new 128-foot billboard on 33th Street and 9th Avenue. It is the same person who called the Knicks last two games must wins and responded by dropping 39 points in both games en route to victories.
It has been a bumpy start to ‘Melo’s Knicks career, filled with too many losses, too much head hanging and too much of the blame game. However, the last two nights in Madison Square Garden have been Anthony’s show. Stoudemire has played relatively well but his 20 points against Orlando and 23 points against New Jersey were some of the quietest points he ever scored in his career.
Anthony seems to have taken it upon himself to take on a leadership role on this team, starting by bringing more effort and energy on both ends of the court. He still has a long way to go as a defensive player, make that a very long way to go, but the energy he is playing with on defense is a hell of an upgrade from last week.
The other pieces of the trade that brought Anthony to New York also seem to be falling in line. Chauncey Billups has put together back to back strong games, including a throwback 33 point performance last night. Shelden Williams has turned into the obvious choice to be the starting center and Anthony Carter is looking a reliable backup at guard off the bench.
Nobody knows how Mike D’Antoni’s playoff rotation will ultimately shake out. Regardless of how it does, it will be Anthony that will be counted on to keep the Knicks competitive with the Celtics or Heat in round one. Stoudemire will have to be the supporting actor in the show that stars Anthony, and his embracing of that role will go long a way to determining how smart this trade actually was.