Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith Proving a Formidable 1-2 Punch

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2013

In a 100-85 win over the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks saw Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith take a ton of shots to combine for 61 points and also play formidable defense.

Even on a terrible shooting night for Anthony, he found a way to be productive offensively. Though 10-of-30 shooting is an atrocious ratio, when paired with seven free throws and a two three-pointers, it becomes borderline acceptable.

Luckily for New York, Smith had a solid 13-of-24 shooting night and ended up with 32 points, his third-highest point total of the season.

With Carmelo so shot-happy this season and Smith's production being a coin flip, New York is capable of either being a complete disaster or brewing a blowout.

Basically, the Knicks are playing with fire.

For the most part, however, Smith and Anthony have been one of the more exciting and even effective 1-2 punch combinations this season.

What doesn't make sense about the two players is how often they must have the ball in their hands to produce. Or at least that's the mentality they have.

Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith are 3rd and 10th in the NBA in isolation points per-game respectively,Both shooting right around 40% 1-on-1.

— mySynergySports (@mySynergySports) March 27, 2013

Forty percent in a one-on-one situation isn't as bad as it sounds, but it can be bad when both players have games where they're insistent upon just playing a one-on-one offense.

Looking at how each player shoots tells us what part of his game is most effective, and it seems evident that they complement each other well.

Smith is the perfect specimen to be the prototypical NBA winger, but he has the ability to go one-on-one, which makes him more dangerous.

He shoots 64 percent at the rim, above the league average, and has a decent effective field-goal percentage of more than 52 percent on three-pointers.

The problem is that in-between area, as he shoots 28 percent from three to nine feet and 40 percent from 10-23 feet. That's where the majority of his one-on-one possessions end up, as he's assisted on just over 17 percent of those shots.

Compare that to a teammate earning an assist on 84 percent of his three-pointers and 26 percent of his shots at the rim and there's an obvious difference.

Smith's biggest guilty pleasure has been the long two-pointer, of which he's shooting a career high. He takes more than four shots from 16-23 feet this season, and the closest he's come to that in the past is just 2.8 per game.

What really doesn't work out between the two, but is something the Knicks have used to their advantage, is that the two don't play better when they're on the court together, even though their most productive lineup involves both players.

Aside from Smith's interior scoring, shooting percentages from every area are down across the board for both players when they're on the floor together.

What does work with that most productive lineup is the off-ball cuts that Smith gives the team, combined with the creativity of the Raymond Felton-Jason Kidd combination and Tyson Chandler's offensive rebounding.

They end up with more chances to score close to the basket.

However, when they're in separate lineups, the Knicks are able to send consecutive waves of solid scorers at the defense, guys with different scoring styles at that.

While Anthony's style of bully-ball frustrates smaller forwards and his finesse leaves bigger forwards in the dust, Smith's form of ridiculousness can become frustrating in its own right.

There is a ton to dislike in this duo, with problems easy to tease out for days. However, when they both play to their optimum potential, play unselfishly and don't constantly insist on isolation basketball, this twosome is fearsome.