Returning to formula might help

Updated: January 29, 2005, 6:18 PM ET
By Brian James | ESPN Insider
After having the time of his life last year in his rookie season, Carmelo Anthony has found things quite different since the playoffs ended for him last April.

The third overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft lifted the Nuggets onto his shoulders, taking them to a 43-39 regular-season record and a playoff berth. They had won just 17 games the year before his arrival from Syracuse, where he led the Orangemen to the NCAA title in his only season there.

This season, Anthony seemed poised to join his fellow NBA draft class sophomores LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in meteoric improvement. But after enduring a somewhat negative 2004 Athens Olympics experience, other off-court distractions, a head-coaching change, and repeated ankle injuries, Anthony has struggled.

After a Jan. 25 loss to the Bulls, the Nuggets are 17-24 and in 11th place in the Western Conference standings. Anthony has discovered that it's more difficult with that big "X" marked on his back. True, many of his statistics thus far nearly are identical to his rookie season production. But Anthony, 20, has struggled in some areas this season.