Carmelo Anthony came to the New York Knicks in 2011 in hopes of being an NBA champion. Well, he's got a good chance of making that dream a reality this season. This is Anthony's best supporting cast to date.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks forward agrees.
“By far,’’ Anthony said Thursday night in London when asked whether this is his strongest team. “I have been on good teams before. But as far as being a complete team from top to bottom, this is the best team I’ve been a part of.’’
Carmelo has never been a part of a team with teammates that knew exactly what their role was.
No disrespect to George Karl and the Denver Nuggets, but watching them, it appeared as if the team just wanted to go out there and win games; they weren't playing in unison for a common goal. Not until Chauncey Billups arrived was there much support for Anthony, and by then, things were already in shambles for the organization.
With a point guard like Raymond Felton running coach Mike Woodson's system, Anthony isn't as responsible for play-calling as he was for majority of his years in Denver. Even though he's the star of the team, Felton is just as responsible for a failure as Melo is.
There's also more veteran leadership on this team with Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and now Kenyon Martin. These guys know how to grind out wins, and they've all been tested throughout their years in the NBA—a total of 46 years of experience.
Not to mention, J. Kidd has won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks, and he knows what it takes to get back to June basketball.
A big man that played a key role in that Mavs title run was Tyson Chandler, and he helps Carmelo out a lot in the frontcourt, especially on the defensive end.
Back in Denver, Carmelo Anthony had big man Nene, but here he's got Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Knowing he has a seven-footer behind him, Melo has a lot less to worry about on the defensive side of things.
Speaking of defense, Iman Shumpert guarding the backcourt allows Melo to relax a bit considering he's not the one with the tough assignment guarding guys like LeBron James or Joe Johnson. He never really had that with the Nuggets, and he was forced to be a workhorse.
When he was in Denver, the team was putting up points every night, but they were also giving them up. In Anthony's last three seasons with Denver—from 2007 to 2010—the Nuggets were 29th, 18th and 20th out of 30 teams in opponents' points per game. Here in New York, the Knicks defense ranks in the top 10, only allowing 96 points per game.
His bench depth is also a significant upgrade when compared the Nuggets with the Knicks. With the Knicks, Anthony has two guys capable of having 20-point games in J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire. In Denver, Smith wasn't as groomed and mature as he has become under Mike Woodson.
While Carmelo Anthony is scoring, his team is defending. Basketball is a team game, and clearly Melo's team is doing what they need to do to pick up the slack.
He's never had a supportive cast like this before.