I like Carmelo Anthony at the power forward position. I really do. He thrived there all throughout last season, and the small lineup for the Knicks proved to be very successful.
I also liked the Andrea Bargnani to New York trade this past summer. Say what you will or what you want, but based on pure-talent, the Knicks came out victorious of the swap with the Raptors. There's no denying that. In a big market like New York, the draft picks given up can always be easily acquired or virtually purchased at a later date if necessary.
But pairing Anthony and Bargnani up may be a conflict of interest. With Bargnani in, Anthony moves out of the four position. Will such a pairing be counterproductive, or will it end up working?
If Wednesday night's Knickerbocker win was any indication, the two can definitely co-exist. It was just one game, but it was easy to buy into what the two can (potentially) do together on the court. Bargnani proved to be very active, looking for his shot and utilizing the pump fake to help him get it, and subsequently, draw fouls, too. The big man scored 12 points on 3 of 8 from the field, but also made it to the charity stripe an impressive 6 times in just 19 minutes. He made all six attempts.
My buddy Seth over at Posting & Toasting suggests the pump fake isn't and/or won't always be necessary, and he may be right. But I like it. I like it a lot. To simply suggest Bargnani has that type of versatility in his game is going to benefit the Knicks all season long and open things up offensively.
With the Knicks taking on the Raptors on Friday night, Bargnani will quickly be reminded of the team he couldn't embrace being recognized as "the man" for.
He won't ever have to embrace such a role in New York. The weight is now off the big man's shoulders, as the pressure to lead the Knicks to a championship is instead still on Anthony. But there's no doubt Bargnani can be a very worthy ally in Anthony's quest for a title.
Anthony may have stood last season while emerging as the NBA scoring champion, but the fact of the matter is New York needs more reliable options on offense. Bargnani is a past 20 point per game scorer, so there's no denying he has the potential to pour in the points on any given night. That's likely what excites Anthony so much about having him in town.
Instead of having to rely upon the hot/cold J.R. Smith to come up in the clutch (as we all know, he isn't always able to do that), the Knicks will now have a reliable secondary option on offense. Of course, a similar setup is what they initially envisioned with Anthony and the oft-injured Amar'e Stoudemire.
But in hoping such a new pairing will be more successful, there's a lot to be excited about in Andrea Bargnani. He's assertive and likes to look for his own shot. But more importantly, he even has the range impressive enough to back up the shots he takes. He may be a shot-taker, but he's a shot-maker, too. The big man is reliable, which is an offensive trait the Knicks are desperately in need of.
There were a lot of positive things to see in Bargnani's first game as a Knickerbocker. He's full of promise. It'll be interesting to see if he proves game one wasn't just a fluke, If he can keep that up and develop a rhythm, he'll truly be an asset for New York as the season progresses.