Opening Tip: Can Melo elevate to ... MVP?

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: Can this be the season Carmelo Anthony finally elevates to the Most Valuable Player conversation?

Ball-stopper. Only talented offensively. Doesn't play consistent defense. Can't make players around him better. Will never lead his team to a championship.

Those are all of the things Carmelo Anthony has heard in his nine years in the NBA, and they've only intensified in the No. 1 media market. Not only that, his two 2003 draft class buddies, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, have won titles and have been named league and Finals MVPs. (Wade's only MVP came for his Finals performance in 2006.)

Anthony continues to sit on the outside, wondering how to beat the Heat while trying to figure out how to become a more complete player. The love is not there yet. In fact, his ESPN.com NBA ranking is No. 17, dropping from No. 12 last year.

But with all of that said, this season presents the best opportunity for Anthony to elevate into the MVP conservation, along with James and Kevin Durant. Not only is Melo considered to be in the best shape of his life -- Walt Frazier, for one, thinks so -- there are believers who say he can buy in consistently on defense under Mike Woodson. He did so in those 24 games with Woody last season, leading the Knicks to an 18-6 record to close out the regular season and the fourth-best defensive mark in the league during that stretch.

There's also optimism about Melo catapulting into the league's most prestigious individual award category because of this: He has the deepest supporting cast he's ever had on any team, and he's even spoken about forgoing points for more team play.

"I don't want to try to put all that burden on myself to go out there and try to do everything, so I'm willing to make any sacrifice in my game regardless of what anybody else says," he told ESPNNewYork.com about a week ago. "If my scoring goes from 27 to 23, I'm cool with that. Right now, I'm willing to make any sacrifice that I have to."

Overall, this could be Anthony's season where he finally silences all of the negative noise. While he's not thinking about potential MVP consideration, he's thinking big enough to reach that level this season.

"At the end of the day, as long as we win games, everybody will be happy," he told ESPNNewYork.com. "I don't really think about it. My mindset is to make this one of the best years for myself and for the Knicks."

Do you think Melo can be in the running for Most Valuable Player this season? Leave us your comments below.

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