Carmelo Is The New Dirk

Rings heal all wounds.
You cheated on your girl? Get a ring. Bad loss in the first round of the NBA Playoffs? Get a ring. Rings alleviate all failures off of your resume, and deem every misstep irrelevant.
New Knick, Jason Kidd was quoted saying last week that he sees multiple parallels between Melo’s & Dirk’s skill sets. I have to agree, not only similarly talented, but similar career story lines as well. 
Before Dirk played “Luke Skywalker” in the 2011 Finals taking down Lebron & Dwayne’s Evil Empire, let’s not forget who he was. Dirk was that guy who didn’t rebound enough, played no D, didn’t make anybody else better, elite but not a “superstar”. Fast forward to early October 2012, and that very same sentence can be used to describe MSG’s favorite son, the last “ringless” star from the draft class of 03′ that has sent the NBA into a renaissance.
The similarities in Carmelo’s & Dirk’s game are pretty apparent. Excellent shooters & finishers, can create space, unstoppable from the elbow. It’s no coincidence that the Knicks looked their best last season when Melo was at Power Forward, it’s no coincidence that Melo looked arguably like the best player in the world for that time either. 
What does Melo have to do to replicate that? Will the Knicks personnel allow him to replicate that? For one, Melo has to become a better passer. The key to Dirk’s 2011 Championship Mavs was their ability to move the ball from one side of the court to the other. The key stat for Melo this year won’t be his actual assists, it’s his “Hockey Assists”. The assist-before-the-assist.

Dirk made a million of these during the championship run. The doubles are going to come at Melo on the high post the same way they did Dirk, all he has to master is making the right pass BEFORE the pass that becomes the assist. Easy enough, right?

But…and there’s always a “but”, the real question which is yet to be answered, and that is if the current make up of this Knicks team will let him develop into what Dirk became in 2011. My initial thought it a strong no. The game has changed. We just saw Miami win a championship without starting a traditional center. It was apparent from the way the Eastern Conference, Western Conference, & NBA Finals were played. You can’t win a 7 game series with more than 1 non-shooter on the court at the end of the game. Which is why we’ve seen Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, & Chris Bosh all change their positions from the 4 to the 5, in order to add more shooting into starting line ups, to provide more space for stars like Lebron, Parker, Rondo, and potentially, hopefully, Carmelo.

So essentially, what is perceived to be the Knicks greatest strength, an All-Star front court, might end up being their biggest crutch. The Knicks have to potential to look like that team they looked like at the end of last season, but that’s only at the expense of one of their 3 stars. In order to let Carmelo play that high post role, that means either Chandler, or Amare will have to be watching from the sidelines. That means in crunch time, about 15 million dollars of your team is going to be reserved to a seat in the crowd. Who knows if the Knick’s coaching staff is willing to have a little imagination? Who knows if they have the foresight to see that traditional line ups aren’t ideal anymore? I think they do, which is why they put so much value into re-signing a guy like Steve Novak. Stretch, “Euro” big men like him are going to allow Melo to be Dirk.

Saying Melo can be Dirk, is an indirect way of saying the Knicks can contend for a championship…I’m not ready to say that out right…but that’s kinda how I’m feeling. So if the Knicks start 12-2 out the gate, then I meant it, if not, then I never said this. 23 days till optimistic assumptions become disappointments & pessimistic skeptics become die hards. We can’t wait.


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