New York Knicks: For Better or Worse, Carmelo Anthony is Team's MVP 1
Nov 9, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) drives against Brooklyn Nets power forward Trevor Booker (35) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks don’t stand a chance if Carmelo Anthony scores two points in the fourth quarter. He’s that valuable to their success.

Since Carmelo Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks in 2011, he’s logged 12,563 minutes in 395 games. During that span, only nine other players have appeared in more games, and six have logged more minutes. Only

Only Kevin Durant and LeBron James have averaged more than Anthony’s 25.2 points per game.

There’s no doubt that Anthony has inherited a tremendous load since moving to New York. The 32-year-old is second in usage percentage, fourth in field goal attempts, fifth in points, ninth in free throw attempts, 20th in three-point attempts, 24th in minutes, and 31st in rebounds. (All stats per Basketball-Reference.)

The 32-year-old is second in usage percentage, fourth in field goal attempts, fifth in points, ninth in free throw attempts, 20th in three-point attempts, 24th in minutes, and 31st in rebounds. (All stats per Basketball-Reference.)

[graphiq id=”lS8KE6t4u7b” title=”Carmelo Anthony Games Played and Missed By Season” width=”600″ height=”493″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Even with the infusion of international phenom Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks still live and die with Anthony’s production.

That was most obvious during Saturday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

The Knicks were facing one of the toughest road tests in the NBA. They needed a big performance from their star player, and he stepped up.

Melo led all scorers in the first half with 20 points on 7-13 (.538) shooting. He posted nine more points in the third quarter, upping his total to a season-high 29 and keeping the Knicks within two. Something shifted in Anthony for the fourth quarter.

Melo was 0-4 in the final period and sunk two free throws for his only points. With their star unable to convert, the Knicks were overwhelmed by a better team.

Finishes like this cause Anthony to be maligned more than celebrated in New York, as unfair as that is. Melo has routinely been associated with articles like this one from Marc Berman of the New York Post. The headline refers to Melo’s Saturday performance as a disappearing act and associates it with a fading Knicks team.

Considering the number of readers who only gaze at the headline and move on, if you didn’t watch Knicks-Raptors you’d think that Anthony had a poor performance on Saturday night.

It’s surprising he’s been able to put up with this treatment for so long. His close friend LeBron James is a King (no pun intended) in Cleveland, and he bailed. When he had his chance, Melo remained eternally loyal.

When he opted out of his contract after the 2013-14 season, Anthony had the opportunity to team up with current Knicks Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in and play for head coach Tom Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls. A move of that magnitude would’ve changed the landscape of the league entirely and potentially accelerated Anthony’s route to a title.

A title that may now never come. When Melo had the chance to bolt after two full seasons in New York and just one playoff series, win he came back. He received a five-year, $124 million contract, to come back, more than anyone else could’ve offered him, but he still came back.

He never gets any due. Whenever Melo’s return is spoken of, it’s usually associated with greed. Not loyalty to the city where he was born.

The unfair criticism he’s received from NBA onlookers due to a lack of playoff success has only further driven him to succeed with everyone watching.

Now he’s under Phil Jackson’s triangle shaped microscope, and a certain segment of fans are calling for the reigns to be handed over to Porzingis.

It’s nights like Saturday though, when Anthony is the one the team leans on, that reveals no matter the situation he’s still the team’s most valuable player. They can’t win without him.

[graphiq id=”2iv9FVNJHxP” title=”Carmelo Anthony Top Scoring Games in 2016-17″ width=”600″ height=”538″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

In the small sample size of 9 games, the Knicks have a net rating of -17.4 with Melo off the court. The Knicks are scoring an average of 108.2 points per 100 possessions in the 288 minutes Melo’s played.

If they could keep up that pace it would be good enough to make them the sixth most efficient offense in the NBA. Unfortunately, they fall apart without Melo. The number dips to 88.8 points per 100 possessions in the 144 minutes he’s been out. That’s good enough for dead last. (Stats per

Carmelo Anthony is important. Get it? Eventually, KP will be the man but right now it’s still Carmelo’s team. He’s the MVP and the guy who should be taking the last shot.

Don’t forget it.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.