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The Inbounds: The First Treatise on ISOMelo

Sep 18, 2012, 2:15 PM EDT

Charlotte Bobcats v New York Knicks

Welcome to The Inbounds, touching on a big idea of the day. It could be news, it could be history, it could be a tangent, it could be love. OK, it’s probably not love. Enjoy.

INTRODUCTION: I’m not a big believer in the Knicks’ offense. I tend to like things like ball movement. And efficiency. And, you know, not mid-range fall-away jumpshots. But the Knicks aren’t the Bulls. They haven’t just left the offense out there to figure itself out. They’re not the Nuggets, trusting in individual team concepts. The construction of their isolation-for-Melo heavy offense is a deliberate and carefully considered creation. So I wanted to think, if I were making a treatise on the explanation of why and how to enact this offense, how would I structure it in Aristotle’s time, or in the mold of Locke? This is what I came up with. So here’s the First Treatise on ISOMelo and the New York Knicks Offense in 2012-2013.



Whereas, the Knicks have forged their present and married their future to the ideal of the ISOMelo, and Whereas, it become necessary to understand the mechanics and causation of that precise decision, we therefore reach the conclusion that a First Treatise on ISOMelo is required, and should in good faith be produced to understand the future of the 2012-2013 New York Knicks.

(Related materials: The 2012 Knicks Season Preview on PBT.)

Therefore we must begin with the central tenets of ISOMelo and what it entails. The foundation of our ideological framework stands in four tenets.

1. It is best, whenever possible, and with full respect and consideration to the flow of the game and in taking full advantage of mismatches, to in all other instances trust the most talented offensive player with acting as both the initiator and finisher of a standard offensive possession.

2. In pursuit of maximizing the effectiveness of the above tenet, a player’s input should not only be considered but made a priority with regard to comfort and decision-making. Therefore, if he feels most comfortable in the post, he should receive the ball there; if he feels his best work is done from the high pick and roll, the offense should be structured as such. A happy and comfortable player is a self-actualized player is a productive player.

3. Carmelo Anthony is the best and most effective offensive player on the New York Knicks, and is most comfortable in a one-on-one offensive set (referred to as “isolation,” “ISO” or “that thing Carmelo does where he catches the ball and holds it for like fifteen seconds”). He prefers to work out of the high-to-mid post with an emphasis on using the space on the “wing” from above the block to top of the arc, and expanding to the perimeter.

4. A winning and successful basketball offense can be produced incorporating the above tenets to produce an offense that relies heavily on the isolation abilities of Carmelo Anthony as the primary option in any given set.

The above follows a logical train of thought that is both simplistic and nuanced, taking into account the most central concept in regards to the goal of an offensive possession: CREATE A BASKETBALL SHOT THAT RESULTS IN A MADE FIELD GOAL. The policy is not enacted out of carelessness or disregard for the offense or its efficiency, nor is it done simply to appease the priorities and objectives of Anthony, or his representatives at the Creative Artists Agency (also known as “The Knicks”). It is done with full forethought to the best way to structure the offense, the reasons for which will be enumerated below.

1. Modern, high-pace, high-efficiency offenses featuring ball-movement and a shared responsibility have shown an inability to produce in the postseason (referred to as “when it matters”). The mid-00’s Phoenix Suns, the current-era Denver Nuggets, the current-era San Antonio Spurs, the early-00’s Dallas Mavericks, and many others  have fallen short of their collective goal of an NBA championship due to the stylistic difference in the National Basketball Association’s postseason from the National Basketball Association regular season. In consideration of this, a slower-pace, “grind-it-out” offense relying on superstar capability such as that held by Carmelo Anthony has a more productive history in postseason play.

2. Postseason play is a reductionist pursuit. With the intensity and physicality provided by playoff defense, the ability of an offensive set to reduce any given set to a matter of one player with superior shot-making ability vs. any given opponent regardless of defensive capability provides an advantage that while not efficient, may prove more reliable in the long run.

3. If we are to assume the other ideas traditionally regarded as essential for team success (sacrifice, shared responsibility, the propensity to make the entire team better) are both true and worth in pursuit,  it is not essentially true that ISOMelo stands in opposition  to these fundamental philosophies. In truth, should the shooters, scorers, rebounders, dunkers, shot-makers, put-backers, pick-and-rollers all make that same sacrifice in pursuit of the ISOMelo, it can produce more efficient and higher percentage opportunities for their skills.

4. ISOMelo rejects the notion that all players’ sacrifice are both created and expressed equally. ISOMelo holds that Melo bears the weight of the offense, and therefore the weight of any such failures unnecessarily high, providing for no excuse for his play. Supporting players, regardless of their talent, are then held to the only standard of contributing to the team concept, which is ISOMelo.

5. The existence of help defenders in the modern NBA scheme should not be held as a reason to abandon or deny the effectiveness of ISOMelo and its value as the standard set of the New York Knicks. While efficiency does reduce in the presence of multiple defenders upon the act of a Melo field goal attempt, there are benefits in the drawing of a help defender, namely, the  production of an unguarded offensive player, and a subsequent easier shot. Even in the event of a field goal attempt over multiple defenders, Anthony’s shot-making ability is such to justify an attempt, with regards to maintaining Anthony’s comfort level. At all times, the belief that a happy Melo is a productive Anthony must be maintained, lest the entire ISOMelo tent collapse like a flan in a cupboard.

It is the belief in this system and these ideas that result in the essential ideology of the 2012-2013 New York Knicks, having made such moves as to maximize the effectiveness of this system, including but not limited to the hiring of Mike Woodson as head coach (a classic supporter of the system under another name: ISOJoe), and the addition of shooters to compliment and work alongside Anthony without challenging his authority, as some other point guards from Ivy League schools may have.

ISOMelo is not a default option, it is part of a greater tapestry that the Knicks believe will result in the achievement of the ultimate goal. It comes not from nefarious or flawed malapropisms, but instead from a deliberate pursuit of an effective, if not efficient, offense. Efficiency is neither the key to the gates of basketball heaven nor the end-all, be-all of basketball. The alternative path blazed by ISOMelo is one of physicality and the gradual destruction of a defense through superior talent and expression of the greatest singular shot-making ability on the team, in the simplest context. What it lacks in nuance, it makes up for in brute force. What it fails in efficiency, it excels in effectiveness. And in the most key moments of any basketball contest, the final seconds, it provides the most reliable of any basketball ever produced, even more so than the once-vaunted pick-and-roll, a high-percentage jump shooter shooting a jump shot with the clock ticking to zero.

It is in the ISOMelo we believe, once and forever, until a rebuilding period is needed. In CAA we place our faith, amen.

  1. dysraw1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    yeah yeah a whole long article of bull crap sure Melo had way to many iso plays for my taste too. but as i stated before from game 1 the burden of carrying team fell on him, which never should have happen he wound up doing entirely to much. Tony Douglas was not the floor general that Dick D’antoni thought he would be. to my point more burden for Anthony.i believe that J Kidd & Ray will change the way the team does things. in London Melo maximized his touches with good efficiency, i think that will be his role this year. the guy can score whenever he gets ready. so he put to much pressure on his back last year you live & you learn

    • khadeemw - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      Mike DAntoni never wanted douglas to start. He chose Raymond Felton and everyone knows he was pushing for the Knicks to acquire Steve Nash. Melo didnt maximize anything as seen with his stats.

      • dysraw1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:02 PM

        dude what are you talking about he didn’t even have Ray last year, he handed the keys to Douglas who flopped. think about it, and Melo was brilliant over seas you check the stats

      • dysraw1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:02 PM

        dude what are you talking about he didn’t even have Ray last year, he handed the keys to Douglas who flopped. think about it, and Melo was brilliant over seas you check the stats

  2. LPad - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Given that the Knicks are planning to implement a more diverse offense than they ran at the end of the year and in the playoffs (mainly due to injuries), how about we just wait until the season before we decide what the Knicks offense is going to be?

    Also ISOJoe was not a choice, the ISOJoe offense occurred because Atlanta was like a 12-win team when he arrived and they had extremely young players and/or a lack of talent. And let’s not forget that the front office passed on CP3 and DWill and decided not to invest in a point guard until about two years ago .

  3. spillzberg - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    The so called” Isomelo” went 18 -6 down stretch.

    • khadeemw - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM

      That was largely with him playing power forward. It works a lot better with a 4 than it does with a 1, 2 , or 3. The natural spacing of the floor works better with big man isolated from the mid to high post.

  4. nycsobe - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    this article was a total bore. a large heaping, steaming pile of cowdung. a self serving pile of pontification the author forced and labored over for no reason other than self-indulgence.

    that said, NYK will do great this year feeding STAT down low. no one references larry johnson reinventing himself when all pundits thoughts his back was over. ray will do great. camby is an awesome pickup, there were glaring problems when chandler went to the bench, and now, we have a greta back up with in inevitable injury to chandler.

    kidd, jr, camby will make an impressive defense 2nd string with awesome fast break potential.

  5. indrasoeazy - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    Carmelo is an outstanding offensive player, and will go down as 1 of the best. Point is, he doesn’t play well with others the way a superstar of his caliber should. The current Knicks roster and ISOMELO well never work in todays NBA. Period.

  6. yousuxxors - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    who says they are only going to play iso? felton and stat were a nasty pick n roll combo. maybe ghe omplyics taught melo that hes better playing off the ball. hopefully lol.

  7. omniusprime - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    As usual Matt Moore can write up the most ignorant drivel. To use Aristotle and Locke in this worthless piece of tripe is truly an insult to both great old thinkers, something no one will ever accuse Matt Moore of being.

    Only a total fool thinks that in a team game a team will prevail using one individual, that’s always a loser. Melo is no Kobe or MJ, he’s proven rather worthless his whole career. It won’t be difficult for any team to devise defenses to stop the IsoMelo. Even when the Lakers try to play IsoKobe they tend to lose more than they win. B’ball is a team game and has to be played as a team in order to be successful.

    My advice to Matt Moore is to never chew gum while walking!

  8. geo59 - Sep 20, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    Really sick of people, including Moore and the rest of you clowns, trashing Melo. Many of the NBA players themselves say that Anthony is the best scorer in the league, bar none. He is a great player, unstoppable much of the time. Great rebounder and great competitor. All the lies about him not being a team player comes from know-nothing, jealous talking heads like Moore who get paid to put great athletes down…, and all of you knuckleheads that listen to them. Carmelo already has a national championship and will probably win an NBA title some day. He was easily the best player in the Olympics. Melo is one of the two or three best basketball players in the world, period. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand basketball. And Matt, nobody cares about your opinion on how the Knicks should run their offense. Why would they?

  9. donrwells3 - Sep 20, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    I think the runner-up for Coach of The Year doesn’t just let his offense “out there to figure itself out.”

    Bulls going through a tough time, don’t take the cheap shots my brother.

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