Yes, the title of this post is correct. Post PASSER. We all know Carmelo Anthony can score in the post, he’s shot 5/10 from there so far this season. But in these first three games, all Knick victories, Anthony has shown prowess passing out of the post. Often times he has been doubled in the post and he’s shown the ability to almost seamlessly hit open guys. This is a skill that is often taken for granted. For example, Andrew Bynum wets his pants every time a double team comes to him and often turns the ball over. It makes sense though why Anthony has been excelling in this part of the game. We’ve seen him make great passes before, not a lot of them, but he’s made them. We know he can handle the ball. He has all the skills to do everything he needs to do out of the post, it is just a matter of decision making. Through the first three games, Anthony has made great decisions.
First off, I’m going to breakdown how Anthony has been directly getting assists off his post passing.
Because of some lazy defense earlier in the possession, the Sixers switch themselves into a mismatch. They have point guard Jrue Holliday defending Anthony and forward Thad Young on Ray Felton. After Felton feeds Anthony in the post, he does a really good job of moving off the ball. He slides to an open spot on the floor as Young then doubles down on Anthony. Also notice how Anthony is looking at Young. Rather than put his head down and go to work with 6 seconds left on the shot clock, he is patiently reading the play. Last year, Anthony might have spun out and shot an errant 18 footer, but this play shows some maturity.
Notice all the space Felton has created by simply just sliding to an open position on the floor. Young doubles down hard on Anthony. Melo makes a quick decision to kick it out to Felton, who rewards him by draining the wide open three.
This play is quite similar to the Felton play. Coming off the 2-4 pick and roll with JR Smith, Anthony receives the ball and posts up Thad Young. Once he establishes himself in the post, he can see Nick Young leaving Smith at the top of the arc to come double on him.
When Young doubles down, Anthony makes a really nifty bounce pass to the open Smith. As in the Felton play, Anthony had his head up and read the play as opposed to just putting his head down and going to work to get up a shot. He realizes the best play is to kick the ball out, which is exactly what he does. I also highlighted Tyson Chandler, because he does a sneakily good job in holding his man in place. As the pass goes out to Smith, Chandler slides in front of his man to prevent him from running out and contesting the shot. As a result of the play, Smith drains the three. Another assist for Anthony.
Now lets observe how Anthony’s post passing has initiated swinging of the ball which results in good looks for the rest of the team.
Unlike the last two plays I’ve shown, the Knicks play with some pace on this possession. This all happens early in the shot clock as the Knicks come down the floor, as opposed to late in the shot clock in a slower half-court pace. Prigioni has the ball and gets trapped by Norris Cole and LeBron James. Notice on the baseline how JR Smith runs to the opposite corner for spacing purposes. Ray Allen doesn’t run with Smith, but rather helps on the front side of the play. Prigoni gets Anthony the ball at the elbow with a nifty behind the back pass. James and Allen, both highlighted with black arrows, converge to double Anthony.
Anthony feels the double coming from behind him and quickly gets the ball back out to Prigioni. Notice that Smith is completely uncovered in the corner. Prigioni and Steve Novak do a really good job of recognizing that Smith is uncovered. They quickly swing the ball around the perimeter. Prigioni to Novak, Novak to Smith.
Miami actually does a decent job of rotating. Allen rotates to pick up Kurt Thomas and Udonis Haslem leaves Thomas to contest Smith’s open shot. But the Knicks do a really good job of swinging the ball quickly. Haslem does a decent job of getting out to Smith, but you can see the space between them when Smith begins his shot. The Knick shooting guard shoots right over Haslem and drains the three, the entire play initiated by Anthony’s quick decision to pass out of the post.
As Anthony posts up, Evan Turner comes all the way across the defense to double him. This leaves Ronnie Brewer, highlighted in blue, all alone at the three point line. Once again, notice how Anthony is looking directly at Turner and reading the play. This isn’t old Carmelo Anthony putting his head down and looking for a shot.
When Turner doubles, Anthony quickly swings the ball to Felton. Tyson Chandler does another sneakily good job of moving down deep into the paint which brings Kwame Brown (lolz) with him. Jason Kidd draws the defender in the corner, which leaves Brewer all alone.
Brewer takes a step in and has a wide open mid-range shot. He misses the shot, but the concept of this play is what matters. Anthony passing out of double teams which initiates perimeter ball movement which then results in open looks. Brewer misses the shot, but this is a shot the Knicks will hit more times than not.
I’m not going to break down this play, but here is another example of the Knicks swinging the ball after an Anthony post up:
Through the first three games, the Knicks are shooting a ludicrous 45.3% from outside the arc. Now that isn’t sustainable, however ball movement is extremely sustainable. Guys shooting open shots off ball movement is sustainable. This concept of Carmelo Anthony initiating offense through the post is a concept that we should see throughout the year from this Knicks team. Moving forward, these kind of sets could and quite frankly should be staples of the Knicks offense. I’ve spoken about it extensively on twitter, but I love the way Mike Woodson has used Anthony in this offense. This isn’t iso-Melo like we expected to see, but Melo has been used in various ways. He has run pick and rolls as both the ball handler and the roll man. He has spotted up and played off the ball. But most effectively, he has played in the post quite often. The Knicks have run many sets through Anthony in the post where he has shot 5/10 and has initiated a lot of good ball movement. This style of offense is sustainable and if the Knicks continue to run their offense in this fashion, they should continue to be successful.
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