Carmelo Anthony's NBA form is an Olympics bounce, says John Amaechi
Last Updated: 18/01/13 9:38am
Defence the key
Carmelo Anthony's show-stopping NBA form is the product of an Olympics bounce, says John Amaechi.
The forward scored 26 points to lead the New York Knicks to a 102-87 victory over Detroit at the O2 Arena, in London, just five months after he helped the United States win gold at London 2012.
"Anthony used this summer like a training camp. Every game he played hard and it has really paid dividends."
Former Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz player Amaechi believes last summer's success has not only boosted Anthony's self-belief, but elevated the 28-year-old's ball-playing skills to a different level.
"His summer was critical," Amaechi told Sky Sports. "Summer is where you get better - every player knows that. During the season you progress, but in the summer is where you really come into your own.
"Anthony used this summer like a training camp. Every game he played hard and it has really paid dividends. Now he's got such confidence that he can miss a couple in a row and he knows the next one's going down.
"A lot of teams know who 'the man' is but still have players who want to vie for that and that in-fighting takes energy away from your opponent; you need to be focusing all of your energy on your opponent, not wasting it on deciding on who 'the guy' is in practice."
Tyson Chandler, another member of the United States team that beat Spain in last summer's Olympic final, registered his 17th double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The 30-year-old also made each of his four free throws and was three out of four for field goals, prompting Amaechi to laud his all-round game.
"I loved the way he played," Amaechi reflected. "He didn't do anything remarkable over the course of the match, but you look at the stats and think 'again, another 'double-double'.
"Defensively, he's always a presence, even if he's not blocking shots he's altering them. You need that sort of player on your team. It's great to have a superstar on your team but really great when you've got a superstar like that who just does the work.
"Shooters who get three from four every game - that kind of percentage - they are always saying 'I should be shooting more shots'.
"The good thing about this Knicks team is that each person has a role and they're comfortable in it and although they want to expand their game and get better, they know that's a summer thing. They are not going to say 'where's my turn? I should be more involved.'"
Detroit arrived at the O2 having won seven games out of 10 but struggled to recover after conceding an early 16-2 deficit in front of a sell-out crowd of nearly 19,000 fans despite 22 points from Will Bynum.
Despite the defeat, Amaechi says there were enough positive signs in the way that the Pistons approached the match to suggest that they are a side on the rise.
"I was talking to [Detroit legend] Bill Laimbeer about the Pistons and he thinks they are a young team, but not a disappointing team. He thinks that they will feel disappointed with the way that their season has gone so far but in truth they are a couple of players away from being real contenders with teams like the New York Knicks.
"You look at the Knicks, they have a solution. It's not just Carmelo Anthony who is out there doing damage - they find open people and they've got those solutions. The Pistons aren't quite there yet. They've got an inside game, they've got some bright guards but they just don't have someone who can complete that picture.
"They are a unit that is willing to learn - that's what I got from watching the shootaround. They took it really seriously; they worked in that shootaround in a way that you don't always see."
Catch the next live game from the NBA this Sunday, when the LA Lakers take on the Toronto Raptors from 6pm on Sky Sports 3 HD.