George Karl gave an interview to ESPN New York about his former star in Denver, Carmelo Anthony, and said that he believes there's a way to build a winning team around Melo.
“I would go get a great point guard and then find some good big guys. I think you have a stud scorer [in Anthony] -- get me a brain, get me a quarterback and then fill in the pieces with maybe second-tier big guys,” Karl said in an interview with ESPN New York on Tuesday morning. “The efficiency of big men in this league, there’s only about five or six of them.”
“We had the most success when we had Andre [Miller] and/or Chauncey [Billups] -- when we had a point guard that kind of orchestrated the rhythm of the offense,” Karl said. “And I just think, I’ve said for two years now, I think the NBA is a lot like the NFL. You get a quarterback and a good coach and you win games. And then the other pieces, you figure it out. I think Melo is still top three, top four, top five. I don’t know, some people put him in the top three. I personally wouldn’t put him in the top three. If he has a good orchestrator, he’s going to be a helluva scorer for you.”
Karl also believes that Anthony can have success in the triangle, but he will need to sacrifice a bit to do so.
"Carmelo is a very bright basketball IQ guy, so the triangle is going to be different for him. I think it can enhance some of his skills and I think he’s going to have sacrifice some of his commitment to playing the way maybe he’s played in the past," Karl said. "But I’ve never seen that resentment there. I think people at times harshly judged Melo because a scorer at times does look selfish. But I can’t complain. Melo helped the Denver Nuggets when I was with them win 50 games consistently."
Karl's point on the offense needing a strong point guard is the biggest component here. There are a huge number of great point guards in the league right now, to where trying to obtain one at this point is largely a losing proposition because you can't get an elite one due to the impossibly high standard. But strong leadership from the position is abundant and would help in immeasurable ways.
Mostly, you need to get the ball out of Melo's hands. Anthony's predilection is towards holding the ball for long periods of time before finally engaging in an offensive move, often when the defense has set and primed itself for his attack. Using a point guard to orchestrate the offense and create opportunities for him to score open shots or at least one-on-one opportunities would open up a lot for Anthony. Anthony's better used as the tip of the spear, rather than at the controls of the offense.
But with Phil Jackson in charge in New York, that point's moot. Proponents have consistently said that the point guard can have a strong role in the Triangle, but we've never seen it. For the most part, point guards are used to bring the ball up and initiate the strong side triple-post, then function as a weak-side corner or high shooter. He's basically just a role-filler. Mario Chalmers, for example, would be great in the Triangle.
Karl's right that there are elements of the Triangle that could make Melo's game better, that could bring out the best in him. But it still involves empowering him to a degree that will likely come with the cost of inefficiency. The best plan, giving him a point guard floor general, doesn't vibe with the current regime's way of doing things. So once again everyone will be back to the starting place, hoping that Anthony's particular brand of ball-dominant efforts will translate into efficiency and success, even as he turns 31 this year.