Sometimes it was a phone call. On other occasions, it was a recruiting pitch over dinner.
In fact, as soon as Anthony re-signed with the Knicks, Fisher handed Anthony a playbook with the team’s new triangle offense.
“I speak to him all the time,” Anthony said of Fisher, according to an article posted on PrimeraHora.com and translated by ESPN Deportes' Marly Rivera. “He is as excited to start this season as I am, which you don’t see very often in coaches. Usually you see coaches that worry about you, that call you to check how you are and what you need. And he has already developed a good relationship with me in that sense. I believe that our relationship will be very positive.”
Fisher's relationship with Anthony -- and, more important, his effect on Anthony's performance on the court -- will be one of the more interesting aspects of this Knicks season.
Below, we take a look at some of the aspects of Anthony's game that Fisher can impact:
1. Late-game scoring: Last season, Carmelo’s shooting percentage dipped significantly late in games. He shot 47.9 percent from the field in the first quarter, 49.3 percent in the second quarter and 45.2 percent in the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter, Anthony shot just 38.0 percent from the field. In overtime, that number dipped to 30 percent. Anthony also struggled late in close games, going 1-for-12 on potential game-tying or game-winning baskets in the final 30 seconds. He was 1-for-7 in those scenarios in the previous season.
Field goal pct. per quarter in 2013-14:
Was this due to fatigue? Was it a product of defenses keying in on Anthony late in games? Was it the Knicks’ overreliance on Anthony on offense?
Fisher may have the solution to those problems. Phil Jackson said recently that he is confident that Fisher can keep the ball from sticking in Anthony's hands on offense.
"You always have to have someone who is strong enough to tell your major player -- maybe a Carmelo, or Kobe Bryant or a Michael Jordan -- 'I'm not going here with the ball with you right now. We have other guys who have to be involved in the offense, we have a system we want to run.' And Derek always had that ability to say that," Jackson said in an interview last month on MSG Network.
Jackson said that Fisher had the ability to tell his teammates, "'You may want the ball now but I'm going to adjust this game to how it should be played and we have other guys who need to have touches and [the opponent's] defense is now cocked so they're trying to stop our major scorers all the time.'"
"Derek has that knowledge," Jackson said. "We're a team that has relied a lot on Carmelo to do a lot of the scoring for us. We need to have someone who understands that we don't have to go to Carmelo all the time, we can go back to him later."
If Fisher can keep the ball moving late in games while keeping Carmelo -- and everyone else -- happy, it may improve his star forward's impact late in games.
New York Knicks
2. Ball movement: Anthony’s reputation as a "ball stopper" is a bit overblown. The Knicks' assist percentage was nearly identical when Carmelo was on the floor compared to when he was off of it last season. One scout who watched Anthony frequently over the past two seasons noted that his ball movement out of double-teams had improved markedly.
But Anthony still operates heavily in isolation. He led the league in isolation scoring last season, averaging 6.6 isolation PPG, according to Synergy Sports. Those isolation sets had an impact on the Knicks' ball movement. New York ended the season ranked 24th in touches per possession and 25th in points created by assists per game -- two signs of an ineffective offense. The Knicks finished the season ranked 24th in points per possession.
But the ball movement should improve in the offense this season thanks to Fisher and the triangle -- and Carmelo may benefit. The 30-year-old has a strong outside shot and is a good improvisational passer -- two skills that are useful in any offense, but particularly in the triangle.
Also, when run successfully, the triangle can weed out some of Anthony's worst habits (contested jump shots, overreliance on dribbling/holding the ball). So this is another area where Fisher can help Anthony.
Question: How do you think Derek Fisher can help Carmelo Anthony this season?
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