[Editors Note: From time to time during the remaining course of the NBA regular season Knicks Fanatics will run a debate thread entitled "Point Counter Point." This week Orange and Blue squares off against The "Dubsta" Aaron Hodges. O&B Begins.]
Points FOR Carmelo Anthony
1. One of the League’s premier scorers – considered possibly the best pure scorer in the NBA
2. He fills a need. The Knicks evident need for a player with his skill sets who can recover broken plays and score on isolations when the opposing team’s defense breaks down D’Antoni’s set
3. Melo’s star power as a marketing boon for both MSG and himself.
4. Melo has proven to be a rebounder at the Small Forward position
5. Amare wants Melo next to him. 5(a). Melo is only 26 years old.
6. Melo’s idol is Bernard King and that fact would elevate his game perhaps more than Amar’e has elevated his!
7.Melo loves to play in the Garden and plays well ( From his Cuse Days)
8. Melo singularly led perhaps the least talented team in college history to a NCAA chip.
9.Melo got to the free throw line 900+ times last year. while Kobe & Gasol only went 700+ combined!
O&B’s arguments AGAINST Mark GASOL:
Despite producing ok numbers this year (11.4 ppg, 7.2 [5.1/2.1] rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.6 bpg and 1.0 spg) those numbers haven’t made Memphis overwhelmingly better. His current production per 33.3 minutes of playing time is less than his three year career totals. This year’s production, moreover, is a notable decline from Mark’s most productive year in the 2009-2010 NBA regular season.
Even conceding that Mark’s player efficiency (+16.97) and production are key to Memphis’ efforts this season, the The Grizzlies are still on the outside looking in with the Western Conference playoff picture. The Grizzlies are currently 18-21 currently in the west and in the 9th spot in the playoff race.Mark Gasol is no doubt a talented and solid big man and the development of his production in the half court may eventually make him a top 5 center but would D’Antoni be willing and able to tweak his system to incorporate a traditional half court post up player this summer? Did that experiment work in Phoenix?
Would the inclusion of Mark Gasol slow the tempo and flow of the Knicks offense that is thus far committed to a fast pace and the importance of the Stoudemire and Felton tandem on the Pick and Roll?Lastly Mark’s star power wouldn’t be an additional draw at the Garden the Knicks may be somewhat more balanced but his strength might not be best used by D’Antoni and those of Carmelo are the type of strengths that can bail out D’Antoni’s system w/o compromising his preference for more agile versatile players from the 3 to the 5 spot. OBTW Carmelo has been known to play the power forward position from time to time as well.
A-Dub Steps to the Plate
O&B as always you bring unique and fresh perspective, which is refreshing in this trumped up he said she said, my sources said, environment.
However, your logic is a little bit flawed in the point about Marc Gasol getting more playing time. He’s averaging just about 33 mins per and that is just 5 minutes less than Raymond Felton, who I’m sure you remember was, along with Stoudemire, the focal point for the calls for Mike D’Antoni to loosen the leash on his bench. Other than that your points for Carmelo Anthony and against Marc Gasol are well made and difficult to argue. I’ll do my best.
The Case FOR Marc Gasol
1. He is a big man that can clog the lane on the defensive end and still keep up with some of the more fleet of foot centers in the league. Ronny Turiaf is a beast on defense but despite his 19 point outburst against the Portland Trailblazers, he’s an offensive liability. Same thing for Timofey Mozgov. As of right now D’Antoni seems to lack confidence in him and bringing Gasol in could fill the need for a legit big man with good footwork and perimeter skills.
2. Gasol appears to be willing to be a vital cog in the machine as opposed to being “the man.” If he can play alongside Zach “Black Hole” Randolph he can most definitely co-exist with Amar’e. That’s a role he’d have to accept as long as STAT runs this city. Don’t underestimate the value of team chemistry. ex: Landry Fields
3. Gasol has pretty decent range on his jump shot. I don’t need to explain how important that is in a Mike D’Antoni lead offense. Even for a center
4. He has access to arguably the best center in the game, his brother Pau Gasol. I’m sure he can continue to learn a thing or two from big bro and pass on winning habits to his teammates. If Eli Manning can win a title in this town maybe Marc Gasol can too. Imagine if Eli had to play defense though. That would be ugly.
A Dub’s arguments AGAINST Carmelo Anthony
1. Yes Carmelo Anthony is a unique talent with the ability to score in the half-court when the offense breaks down. Yes he is always among the league leaders in scoring. But he takes a lot of shots in order to get there. If you use a different metric to measure his effectiveness you see Anthony is behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in Points Per Possession. Melo produces at a rate of 107 while the Three Amigos total 114, 111, and 113 respectively.
3. In the same vein as O&B’s argument, stating that Marc Gasol has failed to make Memphis a playoff team, I will argue that Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been able to make Denver a Championship level team. They’ve come close to the apex but we’re knocked off the mountain several times. He’s had similar if not better talent surrounding him in Denver compared to what he could find in New York if he arrives via trade before the deadline. If he comes in Free Agency then we have a different story to tell. I’m just not sold on Melo as a savior.
2. Melo is just another piece to the puzzle. He is not enough to power the Knicks to a championship. If Melo does eventually don orange and blue, the search will continue for the next piece. He’s a great place to start but him and STAT don’t cover enough of the floor. If you could put 5 Carmelo Anthony’s on the floor, like his Nike commercial, that still wouldn’t be good enough. The Knicks will have to decide what positions are lacking the most and they must fill those gaps. Those gaps may be different depending on who’s roaming the sidelines and the style of play they bring to a team. They will also have to decide whether or not Raymond Felton is their answer at point guard after his contract is up. If not then we’ll be looking at a replay of the Carmelo’s contract year with Chris Paul and/or Deron Williams.
O&B’s responses to Points Against Melo to the Garden:
1. The Knicks already have a lot of Wing Players, they don’t need him
- COUNTER -see point about his unique scoring ability which will help Knicks make more of broken plays.
2. Carmelo does not play defense
- COUNTER – Valid Point but if Amar’e Stoudemire’s improved play on the defensive end is any indication, a player with a goal and something to prove is capable of adapting and adding missing components to his game. Carmelo can become a better defender, If he focuses on that end and plays with the requisite desire and effort to do so.
3. Size is the bigger need for the Knicks than an effective pure scorer/isolation player
- COUNTER – a very valid point. But couldn’t the Knicks purchase draft picks with their ample resources and draft big men. If there is still a nominal veteran’s exception or other such exceptions couldn’t the Knicks also use that to add big men after resolving the Carmelo Anthony situation. Assuming he enters Free Agency [See also answer to point 4].
4. Carmelo Anthony will cost the Knicks too much. They will have to gut their roster to get him.
- COUNTER – There is a difference between cycling through parts of your roster to either trade for Carmelo Anthony and giving up too many significant pieces of your core to do so. The difference may be the sacrificing a member or two of the major core for Anthony with some promising reserves via trade. In Free Agency the difference may be shedding those same promising reserves on flexible salaries to preserve the greater core while adding Melo. That would be more likely with a more mgt./owner friendly CBA that could reduce player salaries. Assuming Major veteran Stars preserve a semblance of their Franchise money Anthony coming to the Knicks via free agency would give the Knicks the best shot to preserve most of their core while adding Melo’s dynamic scoring abilities. My Arguments AGAINST Mark GASOL
A Dub’s Conclusion
To conclude, I do believe that Carmelo Anthony is going to be a New York Knick, probably before the February 24th trade deadline. If/when he comes, the Knicks instantly become a contender. To be a winner they have to answer a few more questions. Maybe, just maybe, they can pull off a miracle, convincing both Carmelo Anthony and Marc Gasol to play in New York. That team would be scary.