Who doesn’t enjoy a good player ranking? Growing up, I used to crack out the old Baseball Encyclopedia and would compare baseball player from decades before to the players that I was watching then. Who was a better hitter? Who was the best clutch hitter? Those discussions would go on and on. Those were good days.
So, I found it interesting when Slam Magazine came out with their latest player rankings and had Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony ranked number 15 in the NBA. We can debate where Anthony falls in reference to the other stars of the NBA. It certainly grabbed the attention of Carmelo Anthony, as he sent out an Instagram post in reaction to his ranking and said “don’t play yaself.” Good for Carmelo and that means good for the Knicks. Let me explain.
There are certainly times when players need to reach and find motivation to keep them going. By the end of his current contract, Anthony will have earned $255.3 million dollars. He won in college with a national championship at Syracuse during his only season of college basketball. He played in four Olympics representing the United States. He won a bronze in 2004 and gold medals in ’08, ’12 and 2016. He was routinely criticized this past summer when he compared winning a gold medal to winning an NBA title. Anthony added that even if he did not win an NBA title because of his Olympic success he would have had a great career. I don’t agree with that take necessarily. I do think players, elite players, are judge by team success on the NBA level and ultimately how you are able to make your team better.
With that being said, Carmelo Anthony, played a great team game a year ago. He played 72 games and he led the Knicks in three big statistical categories as he averaged 21.8 points per game, 7.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. He played much better defense as his efforts on both sides of the floor were perfectly clear. Now, with that being said, the Knicks went 32-50 and were largely irrelevant. The only times the Knicks flashed was when star rookie Kristaps Porzingis made some jaw dropping play that showed his potential for future stardom.
This is a new year and Anthony has some new teammates in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. There are expectations this season for playoff relevance for the Knicks. So, for Anthony, he is a 32-year-old aging superstar who is looking to win here in New York. If he uses the Slam Magazine rankings as a little bit of motivation to get him going that is a good thing for Knicks fans. That means we all should be treated to a stellar season by Anthony, which is a good thing. Anthony wanted the big money and he wanted New York. He can’t always just lean on what he did at Syracuse or in the Olympics in order to justify his standing as an NBA superstar. He let his actions speak for him in those instances and he must start to do that on the NBA level as well.
Slam Magazine might have him ranked as the 15th best player in the NBA in 2016. He is not the most talented player on the Knicks this season, but he is the most important. He must let his actions and his performance drive the conversation. If this conversation helps drive him, then that would mean good things for the Knicks organization in 2016.