The Denver Nuggets are on the verge of going perfect on their first big road trip of the season, which included four games in five nights against Eastern Conference teams. They also got a little revenge Saturday night by defeating Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks, quieting doubters and proving that they can still win without a superstar.
- NUGGETS GOT THE BETTER END OF THE MELO TRADE: There is a saying in the NBA – the team that gets the better player wins the trade – but more than 40 games after Anthony was dealt to the Knicks the Nuggets have been the far better team. Since the trade the Nuggets hold a 29-12 record, while New York has dropped to 20-24. Denver is also currently on a 4-game road winning streak, while N.Y. has lost six in a row – including dropping four straight at home.
In his short time in New York, Anthony has played well but not great. He still is right on mark with 25.7 points a contest and is averaging a career best in assists (4.2). However, he is shooting a career worst from the field (.404) and is turning the ball over at a higher rate than normal (3.4).
While Danilo Gallinari, who was the center piece in the deal for Anthony, is having a career season. He is averaging a career-best 17.4 points, 2.8 assists, 1.7 steals and he is shooting at an all-time high (.462) from the field.
Timofey Mozgov was also a part of the trade, and has started 15 games for the Nuggets and is averaging 5.6 points and 4.3 rebounds.
- MELO IS NOT AT LEBRON’S LEVEL: No doubt this is not what Anthony dreamed about when he demanded a trade to New York, but at the time it made sense (at least to him it makes sense) and the move was going to make his career. It all started in the summer of 2010 when LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join Dwyane Wade in Miami. That decision made Anthony going to New York a near lock; and the trade rumors started to take shape and the former Nuggets star’s popularity started to grow.
Anthony was going to be the Knicks savior; he was suppose to team up with Amar’e Stoudemire and return the Knicks to greatness. Anthony went from being a top-10 player with the Nuggets to a top-5 player in New York. Adding to the hype was that many experts believed the Nuggets would collapse when Anthony left, much like Cleveland did when James left. But that never happened, as the Nuggets continue their success and the Knicks started to crumble.
- MELO NEEDS KARL: No doubt George Karl wasn’t thrilled when Anthony decided to leave a special situation in Denver. Barely a season before Anthony demanded to be traded the Nuggets were on the doorsteps of going to the NBA Finals and Anthony’s name was being mentioned in the same sentence as Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and even James. But Anthony’s selfishness and hype got the better of him and Karl’s coaching started to fall on deaf ears.
In their five years together, Karl molded Anthony into a superstar. He worked with Anthony on cutting down jump shots and demanded the small forward to attack the basket, as well as make more of an effort at rebounding the ball.
Since leaving Denver, Anthony has regressed. His shot selection has become much more questionable and he is turning the ball over at a much higher rate. He is shooting nearly twice as many 3-pointers than he ever shot in Denver and he hasn’t attacked the glass as well as he did during his days with the Nuggets.
Ironically the exact opposite can be said about Gallinari.
- SELFISHNESS GOT THE BETTER OF MELO, KNICKS: The Knicks had the upper hand before the Melo trade, New York was Anthony’s ideal situation and the Nuggets were crumbling with all of the Melo Drama.
However, the Nuggets had one card up their sleeve and that was the $64.7 million/3-year extension. And while Anthony refused to admit it he wanted the extension and was worried about losing out on the money. On the other side of the table the Knicks started to panic that they wouldn’t land Anthony and they gave the Nuggets much more then they wanted to. Not only were the Knicks willing to take on the Nuggets scraps (Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter) but they were also willing to give up draft picks, youth and depth to land the superstar.
To make matter worst the Knicks decided to use the amnesty on Chauncey Billups (only a few months after they picked up his player option) and instead of being patient and waiting to sign Chris Paul in 2013 the Knicks overpaid to get Tyson Chandler.
- D’ANTONI WILL BE FIRED: There has to be a fall guy somewhere, and in New York that person is coach Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni’s success in Phoenix hasn’t transferred over to the Knicks, where he has posted a dismal 109-153 and New York is the last city you want to struggle in. D’Antoni is a good coach on the right team, but a point guard-less New York squad is by far not the right team. He thrives as a coach that likes to run, but the way the Knicks are built they are better in the halfcourt. While the fans would prefer Phil Jackson as coach, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Mike Woodson being promoted to head coach. No matter what this squad needs much more than a new coach to right the ship.
Tags: Al Harrington Andre Miller Anthony Carter Carmelo Anthony Chauncey Billups Chris Paul Cleveland Ca Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets Dwyane Wade George Karl LeBron James Mike D'Antoni Mike Woodson New York Knicks Phil Jackson Renaldo Balkman Timofey Mozgov Tyson Chandler Wilson Chandler