Oct 30, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 90-83. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Can Carmelo Anthony Lead The Triangle?

It would be impossible to try to talk about the triangle offense without talking about some of the most successful of its users, Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant. Even though the triangle offense was introduced by Houston Rockets‘ ex-coach Tex Winter, it was Phil Jackson who took it and turned it into the offensive machine it is today.

It is thanks to Michael Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s skills that Jackson has been able to amass 11 NBA championships during his tenure as a coach for the 1990s Chicago Bulls and the 2000s Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, as he enters his first season out of retirement as the New York Knicks‘ president of basketball operations, he will try, amid one of the worst stretches of Knicks history, to weather the storm and turn things around for the team by using his world-famous and successful triangle offense.

The triangle offense is a weapon that, when executed correctly at a high-level (according to ESPN’s SportScience), opens up, over the course of five seconds, at least 340 shot opportunities.

Here’s a look at how the triangle offense works (video courtesy of ESPN’s Sport Science):

When we look at the ’90s Chicago Bulls and the 2000s Los Angeles Lakers, we have to talk about Michael Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s leadership (Yes, it is stupid, to say the least, to leave out Shaquille O’Neal since he was as much of a leader as Kobe Bryant during the 2000s Lakers success, but it is impossible to compare his and Carmelo’s playing styles because Shaq is not a shooter).

Both Jordan and Bryant, thanks in part to their team’s success under the triangle offense, have arrived atop the NBA mountain as two of the greatest to ever play the game.

As we look into how Carmelo Anthony will fit with the Knicks’ triangle offense, it’s not only right but necessary that we compare him to the greatest pieces ever to be part of said offense — Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

(Note: Comparing accomplishments would be idiotic, we’ve got to look at this experiment from the needs of a team under the triangle offense).

If you looked at the video you’ll see that the key for the triangle offense’s success is movement. By moving the ball the shooter has a greater chance at an open shot because the ball tends to travel way faster than the player defending it.

So, let’s work under the premise that movement is key for the Triangle’s success.

1 Carmelo Anthony 9.0 19.7 .455 1.1 3.1 .345 7.9 16.6 .476 6.2 7.7 .811 3.1 2.9 25.3
2 Kobe Bryant 8.9 19.6 .454 1.3 3.9 .335 7.6 15.6 .483 6.4 7.6 .838 4.8 3.0 25.5
3 Michael Jordan* 11.4 22.9 .497 0.5 1.7 .327 10.8 21.2 .510 6.8 8.2 .835 5.3 2.7 30.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/27/2014.


As you can see, Anthony trails both Bryant and Jordan with 3.1 assists per game. An area of opportunity for Anthony.

Touches Per Game/Front Court Touches Per Game

Also, Anthony has (according to nba.com/stats) 69.2 of the team’s 393.8 touches per game (17.6 percent), and 52.8 of the team’s 279.9 frontcourt touches per game (18.8 percent), trailing, in both, Knicks’ point guard Raymond Felton.

Now, how does he compare to Jordan and Kobe?

  • Michael Jordan: 33.3% usage. 35.9 out of 92.6 possessions per game. (Chicago Bulls’ pace under Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense, from 1990 – 1998).
  • Kobe Bryant: 31.8% usage. 34.3 out of 92.7 possessions per game. (Los Angeles Lakers’ pace under Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense, from 2000 – 2011).
  • Carmelo Anthony: 21.9% usage. 24 out of 91.1 possessions per game. (New York Knicks’ pace since Carmelo Anthony joined the team, from 2011 – 2014).

Evidently, Anthony takes on fewer team possessions than Kobe and/or Jordan. However, Anthony is almost as effective, when he shoots the ball, as Kobe and Jordan.

Carmelo, stat-wise, is as good a triangle fit as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Regardless, it is impossible highly unlikely for Carmelo’s Knicks, as a whole, to become as effective as Jordan’s Bulls and/or Kobe’s Lakers under the triangle offense.

Anyway, as the Knicks enter what might be the last season before a major rebuild, we might have to wait a couple of years before talking about the New York Knicks as a whole.

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Tags: Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks

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