Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

2012 Report Card: Carmelo Anthony

Stats:

Player Age G MP MPG PER TS% eFG% TRB% AST% TOV% USG%
Carmelo Anthony 27 55 1876 34.1 21.1 0.525 0.463 10.6 21 10.8 31.8

Per 36 Minutes:

FGA 3PA 3P% FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
19.7 3.9 0.335 7 0.804 1.7 4.9 6.6 3.8 1.2 0.5 2.8 3 23.9

Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks tenure – and on some level, his whole career – has fascinated me for one reason above all others. Consuming Carmelo’s NBA career – the video, the stats, the opinion pieces – has forced me to refine not only my view of one man’s ability, but my entire perspective on what constitutes a good NBA player.

There are very few offensive skills that Anthony does not possess in spades. He is an excellent shooter off the catch and can create his own looks with a combination of finesse, power, and extremely smooth ball-handling for a big wing. A matchup nightmare, Anthony has the quickness to beat most fours, the strength to bully smaller wings, and – usually – the guile to employ the more appropriate of these two approaches in a given matchup. Much-maligned for his uneven assist output, ‘Melo is actually two-thirds of an excellent passer. This is to say that he possesses the vision to find the right option and the physical ability to put the pass on target with the appropriate amount of touch or mustard. What he often lacks, however, is the willingness to pass up his own shot to create a better look for a teammate. This reluctance to give up the rock has a compounding effect – ‘Melo falls into a habit of dominating the ball, teammates who don’t expect service stop moving off the ball, ‘Melo loses passing options, offense stalls, jab-step, jab-step, up-fake, shot clock at 3, heave, back iron, get back on D.

If the previous paragraph sounds like old news, that’s because it is. Having entered the league with an uncommonly advanced skill set, Anthony has essentially been a finished product since his age-23 season, when a jump from the high 20s to the mid 30s in three-point percentage turned him into virtually the exact offensive player he is today. Since that year (2007-08), Anthony’s shooting, rebounding, and turnover numbers have fluctuated within extremely narrow bands. Last year was actually a slight down year for ‘Melo as a shooter – his 43/34/80 shooting line was pedestrian at best but not far off from his 46/32/81 career averages. Despite the ugly numbers from the floor, Anthony’s characteristically high free throw rate once again enabled him to register a true shooting percentage of 52.5%, a shade below the league average for small forwards of 52.7%.

Anthony’s rebounding numbers remained solid for a wing player on both the offensive and defensive ends – he proved particularly adept at following his own misses, owing to his preternaturally quick second jump. Anthony’s assist rate was the standout feature of his 2011-2012 line – 21% of his possessions ended in assists, a number still below the league average for small forwards but encouraging compared to his career mark of just 16%. That he was able to increase his assist rate while maintaining an incredibly low turnover rate for a ball-dominator (10.8% against a career average of 11.7%) was very impressive.

So the question that remains to be answered, even after all these years of watching Anthony put up stunningly consistent seasonal totals, is just how valuable a player like Carmelo is to his team. This is a player who oozes talent, who hits nearly every traditional check mark used to determine whether a player is an offensive force, who has a history of singularly great offensive performances to which only a handful of his contemporaries can hold a candle. And yet his shooting numbers hover around league average each year, his passing fails to impress, his game refuses to develop, and his teams’ results seem utterly dependent on the establishment of a strong supporting cast. What gives?

The answer, such as it is, has a lot to do with the brand of player that Anthony is. Put another way, we may be seeing tension in our answers because we are not asking the right questions.

The past 3 years have produced only 32 seasons by small forwards who played at least 500 minutes and scored less than 55% of their field goals on assists from teammates (the league average for small forwards is typically about 66% of baskets assists). Carmelo accounts for three of those 32, with assisted percentages of 42%, 46%, and 38% (the latter among the very lowest in the entire sample), respectively, in the last three seasons. Of the other 29 seasons in the sample, only two players are in Carmelo’s stratosphere in terms of usage rate: LeBron James and Kevin Durant (all three players have been above 30% usage in each of the last three seasons). Both James and Durant dwarf Carmelo by virtually every measure of offensive efficiency but, let’s be real, that simply puts Anthony in the same category as every other big wing in league history. If his inability to keep pace with these two players defines him, then the game is rigged. Far more instructive, I think, is a look down the list at other wings who rely on their own shot-creating ability rather than ample help from a distributor.

Removing the 9 seasons put up by Durant, James, and Anthony himself yields a sample of twenty-three seasons produced by many of the league’s top wings (the headliners here are Danny Granger, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay, and Andre Iguodala) and several of the leagues, um, not…top…wings (including such luminaries as Terrence Williams, James Johnson, and Sasha Pavlovic). But the thread that ties the players together is their tendency to produce offense without the benefit of a league average or higher rate of their shots being assisted. The chart below compares Anthony’s three-year average output to the sample as a whole:

I think that this framework puts Anthony’s value into sharper relief. The sum total of his skill, his size, his quickness, and his decision-making is a player who can create more looks for himself than all but the very best in the league at his position and can convert those looks at a rate that is marginally better than league average. The lack of passing – both incoming and outgoing – in an Anthony offense means fewer layups but it also limits turnovers and, in so doing, decreases the opposition’s opportunities to get easy baskets in transition. I think Anthony’s value is easily understood as an analog to a workhorse starting pitcher in MLB. Imagine a pitcher whose ability to prevent runs is only slightly better than league average (say, a 3.80 ERA in a season where the league ERA is 4.00) but who pitches a league-leading 235 innings per season. Despite an ERA that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, the marginal benefit of having him pitch each inning slightly better than average would accumulate significant value over the course of the season. In the same way, the fact that the Knicks can lean on Anthony to create shot after shot after shot at slightly positive efficiency with limited help means less shots that they have to find for other players who might not be able to produce even average efficiency.

And that last item brings us, finally, to the heart of the matter. If you pay a max-level salary to a player who does one thing well, and that one thing is create his own shots in bunches without killing your efficiency, you had better surround that player with a group of players who can do the things he can’t do. These include:

1)Defend (notice the lack of reference to Carmelo’s defense in this report card. It wasn’t by accident, I’m actually consciously matching his level of interest in that side of the ball).

2)Score at very high efficiency at low usage and without a need to play on the ball.

Carmelo Anthony is a luxury: any team that employs him creates its own market inefficiency. His franchise can pass on expensive players that score in bulk and pile up a ton of role players who do a couple things very well and whose lack of a complete offensive game means that they are undervalued by the rest of the league. Read: Tyson Chandler. Read: Steve Novak. Read: Iman Shumpert. And in a past life read Nene and Camby and Birdman and every other role player who is all the more valuable next to a ball-dominating wing who makes it so they only have to shoot when they have THEIR shot and can fight for rebounding position or get back on defense or stand in the corner waiting for a clean look without worrying that their absence from the flow of play is going to stall the offense. Therein lies the value of Carmelo Anthony: when you can cast him as your first, second, and third offensive options without killing your team’s TS% or inflating its turnovers, you no longer need to spend valuable cap resources on other expensive players who can score in bunches but who need the ball in their hands and who are defensive liabilities in their own right.

What’s that? Not subtle enough. Sigh.

I’m really not trying to rag on Amare here. I promise. He is who he is in very much the same way that ‘Melo is who he is and there are elements of Amare’s game – especially if we are talking about the Amare of two and three years ago – that are far, far superior to Anthony’s. But to complete this discussion without at least pointing out the inherent wastefulness – and that’s what it is – of committing more than half of the salary cap to two players who are not only redundant but who actively detract from one another’s value would be ignorant. Spend even a little bit of time perusing the efficacy of the Knicks most common lineups last season and it will become very clear that the Knicks are simply better with only one of their two scoring forwards on the floor and are at their best when the one on the floor is Anthony. This is not Amare Stoudemire’s fault – it’s the fault of arrogant and short-sighted team construction that valued the accumulation of “Star Power” (a label that means essentially nothing) over team synergy or financial flexibility.

Carmelo Anthony is a very good offensive player and a valuable NBA player – even on a max contract – when surrounded by pieces who are carefully assembled to complement what Anthony does best. The Knicks have a number of pieces that fit that description and, as a result, are likely to have a fair amount of success with Anthony as their primary offensive option. But Anthony is not LeBron James or Kevin Durant or Vintage Kobe or Dirk. He has limitations that require his front office to surround him with a certain type of team in order to make him the headliner on a legitimate title contender. This is perhaps the difference between a good player and a great one. Regardless, many will continue to view Anthony as a superstar and that is their prerogative. But labels are nothing in the face of results and one worries that, in an attempt to chase a certain label, the Knicks have built a core whose results will continue to come up short of their admirable ambitions.

Grades (5 point scale):

Offense: 4
Defense: 1.5
Teamwork: 2 (Subtract 5 points if you look like the Pringles man and love SSOL!) 
Rootability: 3 (Add a point if you are mad at me for not mentioning anything about the Celtics series!)
Performance/Expectations: 3
Final Grade: B

98 comments on “2012 Report Card: Carmelo Anthony

  1. er

    Great read and well thought out. Im still holding out hope that this can be melos break out year( yes i know he is kinda of old for that) but it is better late than never. The vets hopefully will push him in the right direction in terms of mindset towards the game.

    I really liked your points on incoming and outgoing assist rate. Ruru routinely speaks of the effect of not having a good passing pg on melos game. We shall see this year what felton and kidd have in store

  2. max fisher-cohen

    Great article, John. I agree with you 100%. The reason Melo takes more blame than Stoudemire is only because of the chronology and the cost. Stoudemire was here first. It’s not Melo’s fault that the Knicks brought him in or that they continue to try to make he and Stoudemire an effective duo, but when you take away nuance, he’s going to get the blame.

    I think a useful analogy is a car. Melo and Stoudemire are different types of engines, and the role players around them are the body of that car, it’s level of aerodynamics.

    Melo is a 12 cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and a really low gear ratio. His top speed is only 125 MPH, but he’s so powerful that he’ll get you to 125 MPH in about the same amount of time whether you put him in the body of an F1 racer or a school bus.

    Stoudemire is a less powerful engine with a higher top speed. You put him in a bus, and you won’t break 50 MPH, but you put him in a Corvette, and you might get up to 200 MPH.

    That means that if you build around Stoudemire, you’re more likely to benefit offensively from the aerodynamics of the role players. In other words, having other players who can score and shoot and run is going to have a greater effect on your speed/efficiency.

    you can put any player around Melo, and the offense is going to be similar because he can make ridiculous shots at a decent rate. A market inefficiency is the perfect term to describe the value of the Melo type and for capturing how the Knicks have failed to take advantage of his value.

  3. John Kenney

    Great read Thomas. Great, great read. I’m with you the whole way– sometimes my anger at Carmelo is really displaced anger about preferring an Amar’e-centric team.

  4. max fisher-cohen

    Oops! I didn’t read the italics. Great job to Thomas B. then! I liked your Novak article too, John!

  5. MKinLA

    One of the best pieces ever posted on KB. Had you covered Melo’s defense with the same level of detail and analysis, I think this would qualify as the best analysis of an NBA player I’ve ever read.

  6. Juany8

    I still don’t get why everyone insists it’s Melo and Stoudemire’s games who clash the most. They are somewhat redundant, but Stoudemire’s best scoring role comes as a pick and roll finisher and weakside cutter, he is absolutely elite at getting to the rim with even a sliver of space. Unfortunately, that’s also Tyson Chandler’s main form of half court scoring, and they can’t exactly both set picks and roll to the rim at the same time…

    The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that of the 2 big men, only Amar’e is actually capable of shooting, and neither is a very good passer on the move. This means one of them has to be outside of the paint when the other is involved in a pick and roll since the other isn’t very likely to find him cutting, which means a cut will just result in getting another defender close to the rim. On a team level, it makes more sense to run pick and rolls with Chandler more than Stoudemire because Stoudemire will actually space the floor, and won’t be simply left outside to shoot that often. Chandler will gladly be left open to shoot, so you maximize the team’s potential for scoring on a given pick and roll play by utilizing Chandler more than Stoudemire.

    Unfortunately, that means the distribution of Stoudemire’s shots will be composed of more mid range shots and less hard rolls to the rim. Even if he maintained his career averages in shots from the paint vs. shots from mid-range, his overall efficiency will drop since shots in the paint are more efficient than mid range shots on average (an elite mid range shooter in the NBA is still has a worse percentage on mid range shots than the average player does on layups lol)

  7. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    “Having entered the league with an uncommonly advanced skill set, Anthony has essentially been a finished product since his age-23 season, when a jump from the high 20s to the mid 30s in three-point percentage turned him into virtually the exact offensive player he is today.”

    Know that ruruland is preparing a 3-post reply to this one sentence. Be prepared.

  8. cgreene

    This was a really excellent assessment of the value of Carmelo. Maybe the best one that I have read. Thanks. I thought the pitching analogy was excellent. Funny my take away after reading this was that Melo is more valuable than his detractors give him credit for being. Also that a simple 10-15% increase in efficiency would make him one of the NBA’s elite players.

    I do disagree, however, with the assessment of his defense. Having developed a reputation as “indifferent” on defense (cleverly cited here) and having demonstrated (on a few egregious occasions) that he can lose his focus and not, say, run back or let a 2-1 fast break happen against him without much effort to stop it is having an over riding effect on the objective analysis of his play on that end. The difference on a possession by possession basis of someone like Amare continuously failing to defend multiple types of situations from man coverage to pick n rolls to basic rotations is stark from an incompetence perspective compared Melo. Bc advanced stats (with the possible exception of Synergy which I believe rates Melo fairly but I am not sure) does an overall poor job of rating defense this really does come down to observation. And in observing hundreds and hundreds of defensive possessions I just don’t see the ineffectiveness that saddles his reputation. Head scratching moments of loss of focus that are glaring? Yes. Consistent ineffectiveness in man and team schemes across a season’s worth of possessions? No. Melo is 2.5 and maybe a 3 on D.

  9. flossy

    cgreene: I do disagree, however, with the assessment of his defense. Having developed a reputation as “indifferent” on defense (cleverly cited here) and having demonstrated (on a few egregious occasions) that he can lose his focus and not, say, run back or let a 2-1 fast break happen against him without much effort to stop it is having an over riding effect on the objective analysis of his play on that end. The difference on a possession by possession basis of someone like Amare continuously failing to defend multiple types of situations from man coverage to pick n rolls to basic rotations is stark from an incompetence perspective compared Melo. Bc advanced stats (with the possible exception of Synergy which I believe rates Melo fairly but I am not sure) does an overall poor job of rating defense this really does come down to observation. And in observing hundreds and hundreds of defensive possessions I just don’t see the ineffectiveness that saddles his reputation. Head scratching moments of loss of focus that are glaring? Yes. Consistent ineffectiveness in man and team schemes across a season’s worth of possessions? No. Melo is 2.5 and maybe a 3 on D.

    I actually 100% disagree with this, and it’s interesting that we could see the same issue so differently. It always seems to me that Melo’s detractors highlight the possessions where he is obviously locked in (usually when defending an isolation) to excuse the many less glaring but still harmful instances off-ball defensive lapses where he doesn’t fight over screens, doesn’t close out on shooters, doesn’t get back in transition, loses his man while ball watching, etc. Whereas Amar’e makes glaring, on-ball defensive mistakes that make you want to cry, which disproportionately color people’s impression of his overall defensive effort/ability. Both are mediocre defenders, at best, if you ask me.

  10. ruruland

    Great, lucid, piece, Thomas. You’ve nicely summarized the arguments many of us have made the last year or so, and added some fantastic analysis of your own. And nice analogy, Max, though I would disagree with it. I’m happy folks are starting to peg their analysis to assisted baskets.

    In many ways, this is roughly the argument I’ve always made regarding Anthony’s value on teams without supporting shot-creation. Staying with the analogy of the workhorse starting pitcher, it’s not just that you gain value from him taking unassisted shots away from teammates, I think you end up taking higher efficiency shots in the half-court because of his prescence, many of which aren’t reflected in assist rate.

    Defenses treat him much the same way they treat Howard, or Bynum, Lebron or Durant, Kobe in the wing/post area.

    However…..

  11. flossy

    By the way, this was a phenomenal piece–very astute, and

    max fisher-cohen: I think a useful analogy is a car. Melo and Stoudemire are different types of engines, and the role players around them are the body of that car, it’s level of aerodynamics.

    Melo is a 12 cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and a really low gear ratio. His top speed is only 125 MPH, but he’s so powerful that he’ll get you to 125 MPH in about the same amount of time whether you put him in the body of an F1 racer or a school bus.

    Stoudemire is a less powerful engine with a higher top speed. You put him in a bus, and you won’t break 50 MPH, but you put him in a Corvette, and you might get up to 200 MPH.

    Love this analogy, totally spot-on. What do you get when you try to install two different engines into the same vehicle?

  12. er

    I dont think anyone really disputes this point. Think about it how many players score 25 a game at any point of their career? Not many so yes it is fair to say he has been 90-95% of his best @ 23. KD has 3 scoring titles at 23 , lebron has been lebron since even before he was 23 list goes on. Guys can only get so much better, in my humble opinion. Remember he came in the league @ 19

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    “Having entered the league with an uncommonly advanced skill set, Anthony has essentially been a finished product since his age-23 season, when a jump from the high 20s to the mid 30s in three-point percentage turned him into virtually the exact offensive player he is today.”

    Know that ruruland is preparing a 3-post reply to this one sentence. Be prepared.

  13. thenamestsam

    Excellent writeup. I second (third?) that it’s a little harsh towards Melo’s defense last year, which I thought was more average than terrible, but I think it’s a very fair assessment of Melo’s offensive game.

    Juany,

    I think the reason that I would argue that it’s Melo and Amare’s games that clash the most is because the two of them necessitate Chandler’s presence. On a team with Melo and Amare, you either require a stud defensive center, or you except that you will have a truly atrocious defense, preventing you from being a contender. So I would argue that building a contender with Melo and Amare requires that you have an elite defensive center, but finding one of those who can give you the spacing needed to take advantage of having them on offense together is well nigh impossible. I can think of two players in the league who can truly fit that bill and they’re both in the mix among the greatest front court players of all-time – Garnett and Duncan.

    I have been saying since they added Melo to Amare that the two of them together can clearly work offensively (saw it clearly in the 1st half season together), however defensively they require the type of third player who will break their ability to play together effectively offensively. There just aren’t rim protecting bigs who can shoot the ball, so it’s basically a foregone conclusion that you’re adding a Chandler-type to the mix if you want to win anything. So even if Chandler and Amare are the immediate source of the clashing offense, it is really Amare and Melo that are the primary source of the clash, because they require Chandler. That’s my theory anyway.

  14. ruruland

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    “Having entered the league with an uncommonly advanced skill set, Anthony has essentially been a finished product since his age-23 season, when a jump from the high 20s to the mid 30s in three-point percentage turned him into virtually the exact offensive player he is today.”

    Know that ruruland is preparing a 3-post reply to this one sentence. Be prepared.

    That’s correct. Though I don’t really expect someone who hasn’t followed Melo’s career as closely as I have to know how his offensive game has developed since coming into the league, and how he’s had to adapt to the ways defenses defend him. I’m not sure that it really matters though.

    His spot-up 3pt shooting has steadily improved the last five years or so.

  15. er

    I have been saying this for 2 years now. Melo is not the terrible defender that people claim he is. He is average, possibly a tad above avg in man to man d. He has always been a questionable weakside team defender , i must say.

    compared to some players like love, amare and griffin however he is a first team defender

    cgreene:
    This was a really excellent assessment of the value of Carmelo.Maybe the best one that I have read.Thanks.I thought the pitching analogy was excellent.Funny my take away after reading this was that Melo is more valuable than his detractors give him credit for being.Also that a simple 10-15% increase in efficiency would make him one of the NBA’s elite players.

    I do disagree, however, with the assessment of his defense.Having developed a reputation as “indifferent” on defense (cleverly cited here) and having demonstrated (on a few egregious occasions) that he can lose his focus and not, say, run back or let a 2-1 fast break happen against him without much effort to stop it is having an over riding effect on the objective analysis of his play on that end.The difference on a possession by possession basis of someone like Amare continuously failing to defend multiple types of situations from man coverage to pick n rolls to basic rotations is stark from an incompetence perspective compared Melo.Bc advanced stats (with the possible exception of Synergy which I believe rates Melo fairly but I am not sure) does an overall poor job of rating defense this really does come down to observation.And in observing hundreds and hundreds of defensive possessions I just don’t see the ineffectiveness that saddles his reputation.Head scratching moments of loss of focus that are glaring?Yes.Consistent ineffectiveness in man and team schemes across a season’s worth of possessions?No.Melo is 2.5 and maybe a 3 on D.

  16. flossy

    This was just a brilliant piece. Kudos to Kevin. It hurts to read the “not trying to rag on Amar’e” paragraph because it’s so self-evidently true, and I (and so many people here, I know) saw this issue coming a mile away. Melo and Amar’e are two valuable, effective offensive players around which one can easily build a coherent, effective NBA offense and winning team. However, their natural style of play is so fundamentally different that building a coherent offense around both of them is looking more and more like a lost cause.

    I have resented Melo since he got here (before, even) because it put the writing on the wall that the strategy of building a modified SSOL-style team around Amar’e was going to be slowly abandoned mid-stream in favor of creating a latter-day Allen Iverson era 76ers surrounding Melo. I vastly prefer the uptempo, spread pick-and-roll game to the one-gunner-and-defensive-role-players style and I wish we’d stuck with the former.

    This is an imperfect analogy, but Amar’e is akin to an all-pro wideout–capable of racking up insane amounts of yardage in partnership with a good QB. Melo is more of power running back–will sometimes break off a long run, but is meant more to provide a consistent 4 yards/carry regardless of the passing acumen of the QB. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Knicks have the QB to take advantage of what Amar’e does best, and unlike football it’s not easy to create an offense where the pass and run game complement one another.

    Ultimately, as talented a player as Melo is, I am not sure I will ever for hijacking this franchise and resigning Amar’e, a player I like better both personally and stylistically–to the fate of “rich man’s Nene.”

  17. Kevin McElroy Post author

    I actually am not really as dismissive of Melo’s defensive game as indicated in the post although I do think the 1.5 is fair. 1.5 is 30% of 5 and that’s about as often as he seems like he has any interest in defending, at least to my eyes. Would love to see the Synergy numbers.

  18. cgreene

    In addition, Durant is no doubt on better offensive player than Carmelo. His defense in the finals last year was horrible and on extremely important end of game possessions too.

  19. er

    I remember seeing that they werent bad but im not sure about the exact ranking

    Kevin McElroy:
    I actually am not really as dismissive of Melo’s defensive game as indicated in the post although I do think the 1.5 is fair.1.5 is 30% of 5 and that’s about as often as he seems like he has any interest in defending, at least to my eyes.Would love to see the Synergy numbers.

  20. er

    oh yes he is a very suspect defender, but it is never mentioned but it is what it is. Rep follows players in this league and melos rep is that he sux on d

    cgreene:
    In addition, Durant is no doubt on better offensive player than Carmelo.His defense in the finals last year was horrible and on extremely important end of game possessions too.

  21. cgreene

    Kevin McElroy:
    I actually am not really as dismissive of Melo’s defensive game as indicated in the post although I do think the 1.5 is fair.1.5 is 30% of 5 and that’s about as often as he seems like he has any interest in defending, at least to my eyes.Would love to see the Synergy numbers.

    Yeah. I think my point was that it is exactly the opposite. On 70% of the possessions he plays solid D and on the 30% that he doesn’t he’s either complaining to a ref or not closing out or lolly gagging on a fast break and it just appears terrible and jades us.

  22. flossy

    Juany8: I still don’t get why everyone insists it’s Melo and Stoudemire’s games who clash the most. They are somewhat redundant, but Stoudemire’s best scoring role comes as a pick and roll finisher and weakside cutter, he is absolutely elite at getting to the rim with even a sliver of space. Unfortunately, that’s also Tyson Chandler’s main form of half court scoring, and they can’t exactly both set picks and roll to the rim at the same time…

    Probably because Amar’e has previously played very, very well next to paint-clogging centers (he was great alongside Shaq) and offensively challenged big men like Robin Lopez, provided superlative PG play.

    It’s been shown that Amar’e + Center + Great PG is a workable combo.

    We know that Melo + Center + PG can be a winning combination, even if Melo is not vastly more efficient than league average (per Kevin’s thesis).

    Even Amar’e + Melo + decent PG managed to be workable on offense, but our defense was so horrendous that the team barely stayed above water.

    Amar’e + Melo + Chandler + no decent PG was a nightmare, as we all know, and Amar’e of course suffered more than Melo because he can’t start his offense out on the perimeter.

    The problem, of course, is that Amar’e and Melo’s combined salaries make it impossible to field both an above average center and PG. Which is unceremoniously dumping Jeremy Lin in favor of the ghost of Jason Kidd and Raymond “That guy?” Felton was so unbelievably tragic.

  23. ruruland

    Juany is right on.

    There is little reason to believe Amar’e and Melo aren’t compatible with the right pieces around them.

    Historically, Amar’e is not just one of the best pick and roll finishers in the NBA, but he’s one of the top 4-6 mid-range shooting big men.

    And yes, Juany is right, with Chandler in the paint and in more pick and rolls, he will take away from Amar’e paint oppurtunities.

    All of that seems obvious enough I’m sure.

    But let’s remember that almost the entire Melo/Amar’e sample includes point guards who rate as some of the worst playmakers in the league via assists per 36.

    The Knicks have lacked the supporting cast that ties Melo and Amar’e skill sets together, and we all know by now that Kidd and Felton — far and away– are the best passing point guards the two have played with together.

    Look, Amar’e was maximized in a very unique situation. Steve Nash is probably the best pick and roll player in NBA history. Amar’e is never going to be maxed out again (where he might have been the most potent offensive player in the game).

    But he can he remain one of the best— and most efficient– big men in the NBA when you turn down his usage but turn up the proportion of quality looks? No doubt.

    And Kevin, I love that you brought up the unassisted numbers for Durant, Lebron and Dirk.

    But let’s remember that Melo’s unassisted baskets are far more isolation- and post-up oriented than any of those three.

    All three of them outside of Lebron take fewer unassissted shots.

    I’d argue that if Melo simply lined up his shot distribution with Durant and Dirk, he’d be very close to them in overall efficiency but with even higher usage and a higher assist rate.

    For the first time in his career (at least since Melo’s 3pt shot developed), Melo will have a chance to in the 55-60
    percent range in assisted baskets.

  24. ruruland

    Kevin McElroy:
    I actually am not really as dismissive of Melo’s defensive game as indicated in the post although I do think the 1.5 is fair.1.5 is 30% of 5 and that’s about as often as he seems like he has any interest in defending, at least to my eyes.Would love to see the Synergy numbers.

    Synergry rated him as roughly a middle-of-the-league defender last season.

    He was elite defending post-ups, I think second in the NBA, but struggled with close-outs and defending pick and roll.

    It’s tough for him to get his big body through screens. The further you go out on the floor, the worse his lateral movement gets. In other words, he slows down the more lateral steps he has to take.

    He’s going to be a power forward in a couple of seasons (by age 30), and he hsa a chance to be a pretty good defender at that position, even if he turns out to be merely an average rebounder.

  25. ruruland

    flossy: Probably because Amar’e has previously played very, very well next to paint-clogging centers (he was great alongside Shaq) and offensively challenged big men like Robin Lopez, provided superlative PG play.

    It’s been shown that Amar’e + Center + Great PG is a workable combo.

    We know that Melo + Center + PG can be a winning combination, even if Melo is not vastly more efficient than league average (per Kevin’s thesis).

    Even Amar’e + Melo + decent PG managed to be workable on offense, but our defense was so horrendous that the team barely stayed above water.

    Amar’e + Melo + Chandler + no decent PG was a nightmare, as we all know, and Amar’e of course suffered more than Melo because he can’t start his offense out on the perimeter.

    The problem, of course, is that Amar’e and Melo’s combined salaries make it impossible to field both an above average center and PG.Which is unceremoniously dumping Jeremy Lin in favor of the ghost of Jason Kidd and Raymond “That guy?” Felton was so unbelievably tragic.

    But flossy, you don’t need a great point guard!!!

    You don’t need a monstrously efficient scoring pg that dominates possessions!!

    You don’t need a skilled self shot-creator or a great 3pt shooter..

    You need point guards who can execute the pick and roll — both Felton and Kidd are proficient. You need occasional penetration and the ability to get both guys easy looks in transition — Felton gets penetration, Kidd might be the best pass-ahead pgs in the game.

    You need pg who can make the occasional open 3pt shot — both Kidd and Felton are above league average spot-up shooters the last 3 years — they are both horrible shooters otherwise.

    Kidd will do a lot more then that to ensure that Melo and Amar’e work together, but you have all the essential ingredients to turn the duo into one of the best offensive 1-2…

  26. ruruland

    Felton and Kidd are known as average or below average point guards because they don’t score very efficiently or are middling scorers at low usage. You could quite easily make the argument that together, at least based on what they’ve done the last four years, they could be one of the best passing combinations in the league.

  27. johnlocke

    Nice. Read through quickly and will have to read in detail later. Only grade I would quibble with is performance / expecttations of 3. To me in the world of performance reviews that is a “meets expectations”. 4 would be “above expectations” and 5 would be “exceeded expectations”. To me Melo did not meet expectations this past season — he had one of his most inefficient campaigns and lowest production throughout the season, save for the month of April where he caught fire. He was not what I’d call a “leader” throughout the season. I think he shot efficiently in only one of the five games in the playoffs. For a guy with his ability entering his first full season as a Knick I expected more… a lot more.

  28. Juany8

    thenamestsam:
    Excellent writeup. I second (third?) that it’s a little harsh towards Melo’s defense last year, which I thought was more average than terrible, but I think it’s a very fair assessment of Melo’s offensive game.

    Juany,

    I think the reason that I would argue that it’s Melo and Amare’s games that clash the most is because the two of them necessitate Chandler’s presence. On a team with Melo and Amare, you either require a stud defensive center, or you except that you will have a truly atrocious defense, preventing you from being a contender. So I would argue that building a contender with Melo and Amare requires that you have an elite defensive center, but finding one of those who can give you the spacing needed to take advantage of having them on offense together is well nigh impossible. I can think of two players in the league who can truly fit that bill and they’re both in the mix among the greatest front court players of all-time – Garnett and Duncan.

    I agree with this, but I think you’re highlighting issues with Amar’e more than Melo. I think Melo is at the very least an average defender, and he showed signs last year that he could be elite if he consistently focused on that end. You do need good defensive bigs behind Melo, but that’s because every team that doesn’t have Lebron James and Dwyane Wade (or Jordan and Pippen) on the wings is going to need a good rim protector. Amar’e is a big, however, and he’s one of the worst defenders in the entire NBA. With Melo you can get away with a solid defender/rebounder, especially since you could easily get 2 of them. With Amar’e you need a defensive player of the year candidate, and he’s going to continuously miss routine defensive assignments or box outs that will cost the team easy points. Melo is simply not a defensive liability the way Amar’e is

  29. er

    he was injured and had a rough year i agree. Also i think he shot efficiently in 3 games against the heat game 2 4 and 5 at .467, .517, and .484 from the field respectively
    Also if you look at the game 5 box score you will note that MIKE BIBBY played 36 mins. Therefore i dont take much from last years playoffs. The season was just a comedy of errors and nonsense however

    johnlocke:
    Nice. Read through quickly and will have to read in detail later. Only grade I would quibble with is performance / expecttations of 3. To me in the world of performance reviews that is a “meets expectations”. 4 would be “above expectations” and 5 would be “exceeded expectations”. To me Melo did not meet expectations this past season — he had one of his most inefficient campaigns and lowest production throughout the season, save for the month of April where he caught fire. He was not what I’d call a “leader” throughout the season. I think he shot efficiently in only one of the five games in the playoffs. For a guy with his ability entering his first full season as a Knick I expected more… a lot more.

  30. thenamestsam

    Juany8: I agree with this, but I think you’re highlighting issues with Amar’e more than Melo. I think Melo is at the very least an average defender, and he showed signs last year that he could be elite if he consistently focused on that end. You do need good defensive bigs behind Melo, but that’s because every team that doesn’t have Lebron James and Dwyane Wade (or Jordan and Pippen) on the wings is going to need a good rim protector. Amar’e is a big, however, and he’s one of the worst defenders in the entire NBA. With Melo you can get away with a solid defender/rebounder, especially since you could easily get 2 of them. With Amar’e you need a defensive player of the year candidate, and he’s going to continuously miss routine defensive assignments or box outs that will cost the team easy points. Melo is simply not a defensive liability the way Amar’e is

    I absolutely agree with you that the issue has more to do with Amare’s shortcomings than Melo’s. Mostly because Melo is just much better at basketball than Amare at this point, but also because although they’re both primarily scorers, Melo is MUCH more well-rounded as a player. He rebounds well, defends competently for the most part (better at times and worse at times), passes, playmakes. If Amare’s offense is being derailed and he isn’t scoring, he becomes a liability out there quickly.

  31. Gideon Zaga

    and IF MELO HAD GONE TO THE BULLS……….yeah a Chicago friend of mine keeps saying that. NBA teams are so dumb.

  32. nyklyt12

    Great article Kevin. As you pointed out, the current team construction is not one that will yield the results that we so desperately crave as fans. I do think though that the knicks staff and front office have the options to make it work. First they have to realize these options and second act upon them. My first though is can they be a better team with Amare coming off the bench? I certainly think so. I would go as far as saying the we should start Novak in place of Amare. I’m sure Anthony’s assist numbers would benefit greatly from passing out of the double team to a shooter like Novak. When Melo is on the bench our offense would revolve around the PNR which could work nicely with our new PG additions and Amare being the primary screener. Defensively we would not lose much from this move….Also is Amare tradeable? Maybe, maybe not? but would it hurt to shop him around? No. Personally, i think the Houston Rockets could be an option. I think it would put Lin in a position to succeed and give us the young talent we desperately need. Amare for lamb, machado, parsons and or some draft picks.

  33. Juany8

    nyklyt12:
    Great article Kevin. As you pointed out, the current team construction is not one that will yield the results that we so desperately crave as fans. I do think though that the knicks staff and front office have the options to make it work. First they have to realize these options and second act upon them. My first though is can they be a better team with Amare coming off the bench? I certainly think so. I would go as far as saying the we should start Novak in place of Amare. I’m sure Anthony’s assist numbers would benefit greatly from passing out of the double team to a shooter like Novak. When Melo is on the bench our offense would revolve around the PNR which could work nicely with our new PG additions and Amare being the primary screener. Defensively we would not lose much from this move….Also is Amare tradeable? Maybe, maybe not? but would it hurt to shop him around? No. Personally, i think the Houston Rockets could be an option. I think it would put Lin in a position to succeed and give us the young talent we desperately need. Amare for lamb, machado, parsons and or some draft picks.

    Ironically the rockets actually traded for Amar’e a few years back but went back on the offer when Phoenix wanted to waive the physical before the trade. Funny how that worked out, but I don’t think Morey would want the current Amar’e, that was back when he was still in Phoenix and he helped take Phoenix to the WCF

  34. Gideon Zaga

    Ok I know most of us here have connects. This has to get to them Woody, Grunwald whoever. I mean it’s common sense almost as of now. Sheesh.

    nyklyt12:
    Great article Kevin. As you pointed out, the current team construction is not one that will yield the results that we so desperately crave as fans. I do think though that the knicks staff and front office have the options to make it work. First they have to realize these options and second act upon them. My first though is can they be a better team with Amare coming off the bench? I certainly think so. I would go as far as saying the we should start Novak in place of Amare. I’m sure Anthony’s assist numbers would benefit greatly from passing out of the double team to a shooter like Novak. When Melo is on the bench our offense would revolve around the PNR which could work nicely with our new PG additions and Amare being the primary screener. Defensively we would not lose much from this move….Also is Amare tradeable? Maybe, maybe not? but would it hurt to shop him around? No. Personally, i think the Houston Rockets could be an option. I think it would put Lin in a position to succeed and give us the young talent we desperately need. Amare for lamb, machado, parsons and or some draft picks.

  35. Gideon Zaga

    Sheed anyone? Any takers? No?

    thenamestsam:
    Excellent writeup. I second (third?) that it’s a little harsh towards Melo’s defense last year, which I thought was more average than terrible, but I think it’s a very fair assessment of Melo’s offensive game.

    Juany,

    I think the reason that I would argue that it’s Melo and Amare’s games that clash the most is because the two of them necessitate Chandler’s presence. On a team with Melo and Amare, you either require a stud defensive center, or you except that you will have a truly atrocious defense, preventing you from being a contender. So I would argue that building a contender with Melo and Amare requires that you have an elite defensive center, but finding one of those who can give you the spacing needed to take advantage of having them on offense together is well nigh impossible. I can think of two players in the league who can truly fit that bill and they’re both in the mix among the greatest front court players of all-time – Garnett and Duncan.

    I have been saying since they added Melo to Amare that the two of them together can clearly work offensively (saw it clearly in the 1st half season together), however defensively they require the type of third player who will break their ability to play together effectively offensively. There just aren’t rim protecting bigs who can shoot the ball, so it’s basically a foregone conclusion that you’re adding a Chandler-type to the mix if you want to win anything. So even if Chandler and Amare are the immediate source of the clashing offense, it is really Amare and Melo that are the primary source of the clash, because they require Chandler. That’s my theory anyway.

  36. H20

    One thing I took away from media day was Tyson saying he was working on a short jumper to help spacing a little in the frontcourt. With Ronnie Brewer( not exactly a floor spacer) playing Sg opposing shooting guards will help off on him to double Melo /Amare at will, I think its a good idea to have Tyson be at least able to hit a jumper. He had one earlier in his career and I recall a team USA video were he knocked down a couple of Shots.

  37. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    H20:
    One thing I took away from media day was Tyson saying he was working on a short jumper to help spacing a little in the frontcourt. With Ronnie Brewer( not exactly a floor spacer) playing Sg opposing shooting guards will help off on him to double Melo /Amare at will, I think its a good idea to have Tyson be at least able to hit a jumper. He had one earlier in his career and I recall a team USA video were he knocked down a couple of Shots.

    Dear god no.

  38. daJudge

    Nice piece Kevin. I’m hoping that both Melo and Stat understand their strengths and limitations. I also think they can change and become more complete players, providing: (1) that they are committed to same, and; (2) our point guards perform up to par, and; (3) we can spread the offense with shooters. I’m hoping this team becomes a little more like the football Giants or maybe a bad ass old John Deere tractor (very low gear ratio Kevin) that keeps plowing the rows. I am not expecting the 69-70’s Knicks with this squad, but perhaps just a hard nosed tough 90’s type team. I would so love that. To me, defense is the heart of a team and is mostly predicated upon attitude, desire and mental toughness. This is where Amare, not Melo, really concerns me because Amare’s PF stats are so poor. Anyway, Kevin and others that analyze these issues so well, thanks for the awesome read. I can’t wait until the season begins.

  39. Donnie Walsh

    I don’t know who Kevin McElroy is, but he’s clearly too good of a writer to be wasting 10,000 words on a Carmelo Anthony report card. I hope he soon turns to analyzing the Middle East, debt relief for developing countries, or health care reform. Don’t spend another ounce of mind matter on the middling subject of Carmelo Anthony.

  40. nicos

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Dear god no.

    Wouldn’t you prefer Chandler take a slight dip in TS% if it improves spacing enough that it helps your high usage guys like Amar’e and Melo? If it means Chandler starts going 0-3 from 10 feet every night, then yeah, stop shooting but going 1-2 (not impossible given his decent free throw numbers) could really help.

  41. Kevin McElroy Post author

    Thanks to all for the kind words and for ruruland for the closest he’s ever come to saying kind words about anything I wrote :D

    And Donnie Walsh, I will waste my words on whatever I damn well please, thank you very much.

  42. ruruland

    Kevin, I thought that was a fantastic piece, and I wasn’t being kInd for the sake of being kind.

    And Nicos, forget Jowles in this conversation, he’s not capable of discussing it intilligently. Tge great wall of Berri he’s constructed in his mind cannot be breached by you, me, or even Jowles.

    Chandler isn’t going to shoot 50 percent on a jumper, but say he shoots 35%. The value, as you mention, isn’t in the shot itself. It’s in the 4-5 times a game the shot, or the threat of the shot has to be defended.

    The one point Jowles is capable of making on this is the opportunity cost of putting Chandler further away from the rim on an offensive rebound opportunity.

    I would argue, however, that the percentage of time Chandlers jumper provides rim opportunities for teammates is greater then the percentage of time an offensive rebound is gathered and consequently converted into points.

    Basketball teams will also do better, on average, when they can penetrate into an open lane then they would having their center battle the opposing center for an offensive rebound.

    Jowles, as he always does in this conversation, is implying that spacing is inconsequential and thus, creating good shots is completely independent of team actions.

    It’s as equally superficial an analysis as citing points per game when evaluating players.

  43. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Why would you want your center to play that far away from the basket? Basketball is not not a game of fixed, static player position? Chandler clogs the lane? For being in good position as a center? Do you think he stands in Amar’e’s P’n’R lanes? Come on! What the fuck?

  44. jon abbey

    nice piece, Kevin! I came to this thread later and was briefly confused as I know Thomas B isn’t capable of writing nearly this well.

    “HE’S A FUCKING CENTER, GUYS. HE SHOULD BE IN OR AROUND THE PAINT.”

    did you miss how they ran the offense through him at the top of the circle quite a bit last year (although maybe that was just under D’Antoni, not Woodson)?

  45. nicos

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    Why would you want your center to play that far away from the basket? Basketball is not not a game of fixed, static player position? Chandler clogs the lane? For being in good position as a center? Do you think he stands in Amar’e’s P’n’R lanes? Come on! What the fuck?

    Wait, 10 feet is far from the basket??? That’s where Chandler spends most of his time already trying to make himself available as a screener- No one is asking him to be a stretch 5- it’d just be nice if on the rare occasion he catches the ball on the baseline his man might actually take a step or two towards him. Also, if he picked and popped and took a 12-footer once in a while it might help his roll game as well as his man might not immediately collapse into the lane. Should he start taking five jumpers a game? No, but him taking even one or two a night could help spacing.

  46. ruruland

    massive:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL-Yy2rVxxU

    I’d love to see Sheed yell at KG like this.

    That was amazing. For all the distractions he provides, some of you people need to wonder why so many of his former players/teammates adore him.

    You don’t get away with that stuff if you’re not extremely loyal.

    Secondly, Sheed has always been poster child of guys u wish were on your team but hate when ur face them. He’s an irritant who also happens to be a pretty tough guy that doesn’t back down. He never backed down from Shaq.

  47. ruruland

    jon abbey:
    nice piece, Kevin! I came to this thread later and was briefly confused as I know Thomas B isn’t capable of writing nearly this well.

    “HE’S A FUCKING CENTER, GUYS. HE SHOULD BE IN OR AROUND THE PAINT.”

    did you miss how they ran the offense through him at the top of the circle quite a bit last year (although maybe that was just under D’Antoni, not Woodson)?

    I don’t see the need for the low blow on Thomas B. you don’t know if he can develop into a good writer.

  48. Brian Cronin

    See, this article is exactly why I didn’t write any report cards this year. If I had, would we have finished them months ago? Sure, but I guarantee you that I never would have been able to post the insights you came up with in this piece, Kevin (same with the other writers of the previous report cards). Your usage of stats was wonderful. Very well worth the wait.

  49. jon abbey

    ruruland: I don’t see the need for the low blow on Thomas B. you don’t know if he can develop into a good writer.

    heh, maybe you don’t know, but he and I have been around here a lot longer than you.

  50. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    nicos: Wait, 10 feet is far from the basket??? That’s where Chandler spends most of his time already trying to make himself available as a screener-No one is asking him to be a stretch 5- it’d just be nice if on the rare occasion he catches the ball on the baseline his man might actually take a step or two towards him.Also, if he picked and popped and took a 12-footer once in a while it might help his roll game as well as his man might not immediately collapse into the lane.Should he start taking five jumpers a game? No, but him taking even one or two a night could help spacing.

    But it also could be a waste of two possessions. Do you think that defenders are going to start to charge a 7’1″ center who’s never been a set-shooter just because he starts putting up two low-efficiency shots per game? It makes no sense to me.

  51. EB

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: But it also could be a waste of two possessions. Do you think that defenders are going to start to charge a 7’1? center who’s never been a set-shooter just because he starts putting up two low-efficiency shots per game? It makes no sense to me.

    It doesn’t have to be an efficient shot, just more efficient than a long contested 2 from Melo.

  52. Juany8

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: But it also could be a waste of two possessions. Do you think that defenders are going to start to charge a 7’1? center who’s never been a set-shooter just because he starts putting up two low-efficiency shots per game? It makes no sense to me.

    If he’s making them at a poor percentage you’re right, they’ll leave him open. The problem is they already leave him open to go double the paint, might as well get some kind of decent shot out of the possession. Do you seriously not understand that Chandler and Amar’e can’t be in the paint at the same time, and that Amar’e actually shot 70% at the rim last season? Chandler still had a higher percentage, but he had 80% of his baskets assisted last season, which was a career high to match his career high in efficiency at the basket, while Amar’es assisted percentage was around 60% at the rim. If Amar’e refused to shoot anything outside of the paint, he’d pretty much have Chandler’s efficiency (at least he’d be well over 60 TS%)

  53. JC Knickfan

    er:
    I dont think anyone really disputes this point. Think about it how many players score 25 a game at any point of their career? Not many so yes it is fair to say he has been 90-95% of his best @ 23. KD has 3 scoring titles at 23 , lebron has been lebron since even before he was 23 list goes on. Guys can only get so much better, in my humble opinion. Remember he came in the league @ 19

    You forgetting one big thing, measure of great NBA player is playoff success and winning championships. In this case Lebron and KD are horrible examples to compare to Melo. For god sake KD has already more playoff wins then Melo. Melo continues to have abysmal playoff success. In 20 year he worst playoff record of any player who played 50 games. This is why he continues to be rip to shreds and support Kevin McElroy writeup that he has not improved since 23.

  54. thenamestsam

    EB: It doesn’t have to be an efficient shot, just more efficient than a long contested 2 from Melo.

    Exactly this. I think THCJ is looking at it as replacing some of Chandler’s dunks with jumpers – obviously not a good thing. But really the goal would be for him to get exactly the same amount of dunks, and just add two short jumpers per game. Those are obviously not going to be as efficient as the dunks, but it should be easy to make them as efficient as the Knicks average possession (you can go to any court in this city and find five guys who can consistently knock down an unguarded 8-12 footer), and on top of that you hope that there’s some added benefit to others when Chandler’s man has to stay home a bit more.

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8EO4t1M3cc&feature=player_detailpage#t=96s

    Look at this play. Do you think Noah stays on Chandler if Chandler has a “proven” jump shot? Fuck no. He goes to the guy who’s about to make a 90% success rate shot.

    HE’S A FUCKING CENTER, GUYS. HE SHOULD BE IN OR AROUND THE PAINT.

    The difference isn’t that he will stay on Chandler when a guy is driving down the lane, the difference is in starting position. On that play Noah is in bad defensive position. He’s way too close to Chandler, and consequently his help is late and Amare gets a dunk. That’s the spacing that hopefully would happen more if Chandler had to be guarded there. If you’ve ever played a basketball game at any level you know that the difference between starting help position only a foot off a man who can knock down a jumper vs. 3 feet off a man who can’t makes a HUGE…

  55. Juany8

    JC Knickfan: You forgetting one big thing, measure of great NBA player is playoff success and winning championships. In this case Lebron and KD are horrible examples to compare to Melo.For god sake KD has already more playoff wins then Melo.Melo continues to have abysmal playoff success. In 20 year he worst playoff record of any player who played 50 games. This is why he continues to be rip to shreds and support Kevin McElroy writeup that he has not improved since 23.

    Lol this is where I say “KG in Minnesota” and watch people scramble to explain by KG is still dominant despite not doing shit in the playoffs until he had 2 hall of famers on his team. He actually missed the playoffs several years in Minnesota before going to Boston, and also only won 2 playoffs series total in Minnesota, the same number Melo won in Denver despite the fact that KG played more years there.

    Now I’m not arguing that Melo is in any way close to KG as a player. But to say the true measure of a great player is playoff wins when players like Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Kevin Garnett didn’t do shit as the headliners of their teams is just ignorant. Unless you think those players also suck of course….

  56. JK47

    To extend the baseball analogy, if Melo is a workhorse starting pitcher, than Amar’e is like a slugging outfielder who is terrible on defense and slightly above average on offense for his position, a guy who looks good on the stat sheet because he gets lots of RBIs.

    I was behind the Melo trade at the time, but I now see the error of my ways. The opportunity cost of that trade was staggering. If the Knicks had sat tight, they would have absolutely been in the mix for guys like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, players who are legitimate superstars, not “workhorse pitcher” types like Anthony. In the NBA you can’t afford to whiff on a max contract and the Knicks did it twice.

  57. Z-man

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: But it also could be a waste of two possessions. Do you think that defenders are going to start to charge a 7’1? center who’s never been a set-shooter just because he starts putting up two low-efficiency shots per game? It makes no sense to me.

    I’m totally with you, Jowles. I’d rather Melo put up a contested 2 with Chandler focusing on getting an offensive rebound or a tip-out than to ever have Chandler thinking that taking a 10-ft jump shot is a better option. Nobody ever expected a play to be called for Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo or Dennis Rodman to be in position to shoot a J, and when they did it was an extremely low percentage shot. Tyson’s game is what it is, and should not be tinkered with. If he wants to work on his J or a baby hood or post moves, fine, but those should only be emergency moves when nothing else is available and the clock is running down. Amare is the one who has to adjust, not Chandler.

  58. Z-man

    Juany8: Lol this is where I say “KG in Minnesota” and watch people scramble to explain by KG is still dominant despite not doing shit in the playoffs until he had 2 hall of famers on his team. He actually missed the playoffs several years in Minnesota before going to Boston, and also only won 2 playoffs series total in Minnesota, the same number Melo won in Denver despite the fact that KG played more years there. Now I’m not arguing that Melo is in any way close to KG as a player. But to say the true measure of a great player is playoff wins when players like Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Kevin Garnett didn’t do shit as the headliners of their teams is just ignorant. Unless you think those players also suck of course….

    Spot on, Juany.

  59. er

    Your points have nothing to do with what i said. All i was saying is that the great players in the league usually dont take that long to get near to their peak. Now some may stay longer than others but by 23-25 you are who you are. And i never said he was as good as kd or lebron so dont get ya panties in a bunch. I was using them as examples of players who were pretty darn good by that age.

    As far as playoffs go, you can explain some of melos failures especially the last three years with injuries in the last 2 and coach out with cancer in the last 1 in denver.

    before that all you have to do is look at the western conference that had the following players/teams in their primes from 04-09
    who were better than the nuggets

    04 Timberwolves —LBJ no playoffs
    05 Spurs —-LbJ no playoffs
    06 Clips
    07 Spurs
    08 Lakers — KD no playoffs
    09 Lakers —KD no playoffs

    Im not exactly sure where melo was supposed to get these playoff wins, he or his teams were just not as good as these teams

    JC Knickfan: You forgetting one big thing, measure of great NBA player is playoff success and winning championships. In this case Lebron and KD are horrible examples to compare to Melo.For god sake KD has already more playoff wins then Melo.Melo continues to have abysmal playoff success. In 20 year he worst playoff record of any player who played 50 games. This is why he continues to be rip to shreds and support Kevin McElroy writeup that he has not improved since 23.

  60. flossy

    Juany8: Lol this is where I say “KG in Minnesota” and watch people scramble to explain by KG is still dominant despite not doing shit in the playoffs until he had 2 hall of famers on his team. He actually missed the playoffs several years in Minnesota before going to Boston, and also only won 2 playoffs series total in Minnesota, the same number Melo won in Denver despite the fact that KG played more years there.

    Now I’m not arguing that Melo is in any way close to KG as a player. But to say the true measure of a great player is playoff wins when players like Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Kevin Garnett didn’t do shit as the headliners of their teams is just ignorant. Unless you think those players also suck of course….

    Melo has played with at least two HOF PGs already. To compare Melo’s supporting cast in Denver to KG’s in Minny is disingenuous to the max.

  61. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Juany8: Lol this is where I say “KG in Minnesota” and watch people scramble to explain by KG is still dominant despite not doing shit in the playoffs until he had 2 hall of famers on his team. He actually missed the playoffs several years in Minnesota before going to Boston, and also only won 2 playoffs series total in Minnesota, the same number Melo won in Denver despite the fact that KG played more years there.

    Now I’m not arguing that Melo is in any way close to KG as a player. But to say the true measure of a great player is playoff wins when players like Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Kevin Garnett didn’t do shit as the headliners of their teams is just ignorant. Unless you think those players also suck of course….

    I would argue that KG was a great player on an awful team, whereas Carmelo was an average player on some good teams. Anyone who rates players according to team success is doing it wrong, IMO.

  62. er

    yes melo was “avg” lol but how great could kg have been if he never got outta the first round till he had spree and cassell

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: I would argue that KG was a great player on an awful team, whereas Carmelo was an average player on some good teams. Anyone who rates players according to team success is doing it wrong, IMO.

  63. er

    who the hell are these 2 hall of fame pgs melo played with?

    flossy: Melo has played with at least two HOF PGs already.To compare Melo’s supporting cast in Denver to KG’s in Minny is disingenuous to the max.

  64. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    er:
    who the hell are these 2 hall of fame pgs melo played with?

    Billups and… I don’t know.

  65. er

    hey im leaning more towards kg being great i dont have a problem with that statement, but melo was not average. He was clearly above average in denver. Also this notion that his teams were good, is a little overblown. For god sakes for a few years in denver his starting 2 guard was either vashon lenard or vincent yarbororoh or yakuba diawara. He had decent teams, but i think the iverson years were stupid( a way worse combo than stat and melo) also nene would literally miss months at a time. Camby was consistently hurt etc. The two years were they had good teams was 09 and 10

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Really great. Like one of the best big men ever great.

    http://www.thenbageek.com/players/12-kevin-garnett

  66. er

    you should be banned from this board if you think iverson was a pg

    flossy: I’m sure you despise him, but Iverson will make the HOF and was still in 25 ppg form while in Denver.

  67. flossy

    er:
    you should be banned from this board if you think iverson was a pg

    I should be banned? Relax, honey, it’s only the position he was listed at for his entire career, and yes, shoot-first PGs like AI (or Marbury, Westbrook, Rose etc.) do count. But I’ll just say “2 HOF guards” if it helps untwist your panties.

  68. Juany8

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: I would argue that KG was a great player on an awful team, whereas Carmelo was an average player on some good teams. Anyone who rates players according to team success is doing it wrong, IMO.

    Jesus I literally said Melo was not close to KG as a player. I know KG is a first ball hall of famer, and I would easily trade both Melo and Amar’re for him in his prime, even for the combined price of both lol. My point was actually what you said, that comparing players by team success is dumb to a certain point, especially if you’re not comparing championships.

  69. Juany8

    er:
    hey im leaning more towards kg being great i dont have a problem with that statement, but melo was not average. He was clearly above average in denver. Also this notion that his teams were good, is a little overblown. For god sakes for a few years in denver his starting 2 guard was either vashon lenard or vincent yarbororoh or yakuba diawara. He had decent teams, but i think the iverson years were stupid( a way worse combo than stat and melo) also nene would literally miss months at a time. Camby was consistently hurt etc. The two years were they hadgood teams was 09 and 10

    This, in 2009 he was on the second-third best team in the league (Nuggets were by far the closest team to taking out the Lakers that year, although if KG was healthy that would have changed everything) Then in 2010, when he was supposed to be on the best team of his career and the Nuggets seemed like legit contenders, several of the main players got injured (a recurring theme for Melo’s teams it seems) and then George Karl went down with cancer, meaning the Nuggets were relying on Adrian Dantley to coach, and he had no fucking clue what he was doing. With the Knicks, he was beat by a better Celtics team after both Billups and Amar’e went down, then last year he had to deal with Chandler getting the flu, Amar’e slicing open his hand, and the back court totally cratering with injuries, all while playing the team that won the championship.

    All this, and we’re ok with excusing KG’s playoff record and not Melo’s? Again, they’re not on the same level, but to say Melo’s been an average player on good teams is dumb, those teams wouldn’t have won anything with KD either lol

  70. er

    Hey you cant use my panties line on me lol but seriously i think rose westbrook and marbury were way more pg than iverson imo.

    flossy: I should be banned?Relax, honey, it’s only the position he was listed at for his entire career, and yes, shoot-first PGs like AI (or Marbury, Westbrook, Rose etc.) do count.But I’ll just say “2 HOF guards” if it helps untwist your panties.

  71. JC Knickfan

    Juany8: Lol this is where I say “KG in Minnesota” and watch people scramble to explain by KG is still dominant despite not doing shit in the playoffs until he had 2 hall of famers on his team. He actually missed the playoffs several years in Minnesota before going to Boston, and also only won 2 playoffs series total in Minnesota, the same number Melo won in Denver despite the fact that KG played more years there.

    Now I’m not arguing that Melo is in any way close to KG as a player. But to say the true measure of a great player is playoff wins when players like Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Kevin Garnett didn’t do shit as the headliners of their teams is just ignorant. Unless you think those players also suck of course….

    Wow did I say Melo sucks? I just don’t consider him great player. If Melo get Knicks to final I’ll chance my mind. Heck I change my tune if he could take the Knicks to few eastern conference final to game 7.

    KG won MVP award at Mini. That’s very small elite group players. I love see day Melo win MVP as a Knicks. You know what that mean? Knicks probably #1 seed and Melo probably made at least 3rd all-NBA defensive team. But do really see this happening?

    Pau Gasol – you actually think he great player? We talking player (Melo) who average 25 ppg in regular season, but has not carried his team to more playoff success.

    Chris Paul – If he retired today you consider him one the greats? Honestly, I would put him same boat Melo if they ended their career today.

  72. johnlocke

    Agreed — Melo is a very good, not great, but definitely not an “average” basketball player. To go back to your initial point though, I do think it’s instructive to compare star players to team success. Largely because ‘elite’ (~ Top 10) players have a disproportionate impact on wins and especially playoff success (look at Cavs pre and post Lebron). I posted a quote from Daryl Morey a few days back that articulately explained why. Garnett in Minnesota may be an exception to the general rule, but I think you can make some strong arguments as to why he’s not.

    Juany8: Jesus I literally said Melo was not close to KG as a player. I know KG is a first ball hall of famer, and I would easily trade both Melo and Amar’re for him in his prime, even for the combined price of both lol. My point was actually what you said, that comparing players by team success is dumb to a certain point, especially if you’re not comparing championships.

  73. Juany8

    johnlocke:
    Agreed — Melo is a very good, notgreat, but definitely not an “average” basketball player. To go back to your initial point though, I do think it’s instructive to compare star players to team success. Largely because ‘elite’ (~ Top 10) players have a disproportionate impact on wins and especially playoff success (look at Cavs pre and post Lebron). I posted a quote from Daryl Morey a few days back that articulately explained why. Garnett in Minnesota may be an exception to the general rule, but I think you can make some strong arguments as to why he’s not.

    What about Chris Paul then? He certainly hasn’t had more playoff success then Melo, and it’s hard to argue with his supporting cast since he’s played with David West, Tyson Chandler, and Blake Griffin in the past. He was even involved in one of the worst playoff defeats of all time, a 50+ point drubbing by Melo’s Nuggets of all teams. Shouldn’t a superstar do better than that? There’s also D-Wade’s failures without Shaq or Lebron, not to mention Deron Williams failing to even contend for the playoffs in a pretty bad East. Kevin Love is being placed in the top 5 of some NBA lists, and he hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs yet, and has in fact been on some of the worst teams in the league in the past few years. Team success cannot be attributed to a single player unless you’re talking about someone totally dominant, which might only be Howard and Lebron at this point

  74. er

    +1

    Juany8: What about Chris Paul then? He certainly hasn’t had more playoff success then Melo, and it’s hard to argue with his supporting cast since he’s played with David West, Tyson Chandler, and Blake Griffin in the past. He was even involved in one of the worst playoff defeats of all time, a 50+ point drubbing by Melo’s Nuggets of all teams. Shouldn’t a superstar do better than that? There’s also D-Wade’s failures without Shaq or Lebron, not to mention Deron Williams failing to even contend for the playoffs in a pretty bad East. Kevin Love is being placed in the top 5 of some NBA lists, and he hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs yet, and has in fact been on some of the worst teams in the league in the past few years. Team success cannot be attributed to a single player unless you’re talking about someone totally dominant, which might only be Howard and Lebron at this point

  75. er

    dont forget kobe without shaq or pau also

    Juany8: What about Chris Paul then? He certainly hasn’t had more playoff success then Melo, and it’s hard to argue with his supporting cast since he’s played with David West, Tyson Chandler, and Blake Griffin in the past. He was even involved in one of the worst playoff defeats of all time, a 50+ point drubbing by Melo’s Nuggets of all teams. Shouldn’t a superstar do better than that? There’s also D-Wade’s failures without Shaq or Lebron, not to mention Deron Williams failing to even contend for the playoffs in a pretty bad East. Kevin Love is being placed in the top 5 of some NBA lists, and he hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs yet, and has in fact been on some of the worst teams in the league in the past few years. Team success cannot be attributed to a single player unless you’re talking about someone totally dominant, which might only be Howard and Lebron at this point

  76. JC Knickfan

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: I would argue that KG was a great player on an awful team, whereas Carmelo was an average player on some good teams. Anyone who rates players according to team success is doing it wrong, IMO.

    Top players are rated by team success. Take Garnet MVP year Minnesota happen have best record in western conference. Was actually his best year statistically? No, but award consistently given to player on top teams.

    Let me ask question – if Melo won championship (actually lost conf final 4-2) in 2008–09 w/ Nuggets, would you think he better then average player? Rest of his career stay the same except for season.

  77. johnlocke

    Now you’re putting words in my mouth. I never said team success can be attributed to a single player. I also never said it’s the single attribute that defines who’s elite and who’s not. What I said was I think it’s not “dumb” or “unimportant” or “useless” to look at team results as a part of player evaluation for so-called super star players. Just like if you look only at FG% it won’t tell you the whole story, the same is true of team success — it’s an indicator not an absolute rule. Let’s see how the Magic and Bulls do next year. The reason Chris Paul and Melo aren’t in the same conversation is because Chris Paul’s individual statistics (esp. advanced statistics) are vastly superior to Carmelo’s… as is Garnett. Also Melo’s individual playoff performances have been subpar, so that’s why he gets blame for his team’s lack of success. As for Chris Paul, he played with Blake Griffin and took a non-playoff team to the 2nd round where they lost to the team with the best record in the NBA. In NO he played with Tyson Chandler before he was the Chandler we know. David West? Come on now.
    Again, part of the reason Melo gets knocked for team performance (esp. in the playoffs) has been his lack of production in the playoffs relative to other ‘stars/elite players’ including Deron Williams, who he’s closest to on the list below.

    Melo…season .124, playoffs .104 (3 negative years)
    Paul…season .238, playoffs .174 (1 negative year)
    Wade…season .196, playoffs .182
    DWill….season .136, playoffs .147
    Lebron….season .233, playoffs .234

    Juany8: Team success cannot be attributed to a single player unless you’re talking about someone totally dominant, which might only be Howard and Lebron at this point

    </blockquote

  78. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    JC Knickfan: Top players are rated by team success. Take Garnet MVP year Minnesota happen have best record in western conference. Was actually his best year statistically?No, but award consistently given to player on top teams.

    Let me ask question – if Melo won championship (actually lost conf final 4-2) in 2008–09 w/ Nuggets, would you think he better then average player? Rest of his career stay the same except for season.

    I don’t care about the MVP award. Derrick Rose won it over LeBron James. Why even mention it?

    Melo didn’t win the title that year, so your hypothetical scenario is meaningless. You’re essentially asking me “If Carmelo were much better that year (and he had a good playoff run, at least) and they won, would I call him a better player?” Yes, yes I would. If he played better I would have called him a better player.

  79. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Juany8: Jesus I literally said Melo was not close to KG as a player. I know KG is a first ball hall of famer, and I would easily trade both Melo and Amar’re for him in his prime, even for the combined price of both lol. My point was actually what you said, that comparing players by team success is dumb to a certain point, especially if you’re not comparing championships.

    I know.

  80. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    JC Knickfan:

    Pau Gasol – you actually think he great player? We talking player (Melo) who average 25 ppg in regular season, but has not carried his team to more playoff success.

    Chris Paul –If he retired today you consider him one the greats?Honestly, I would put him same boat Melo if they ended their career today.

    Yes. Pau Gasol is an elite player. Last season he was not so good, but before that?

    WP48

    .265
    .265
    .234
    .244

    As a Laker. Check his WS48 stats. Check any of his stats. He’s awesome.

    And Chris Paul? His WP48 average — over his whole career — is .302. According to that metric, he is three times as valuable as the average PG. Why? He’s above average to amazing in EVERYTHING.

    http://www.thenbageek.com/players/211-chris-paul

    He is an absurdly good player. I posted his STL/TO numbers awhile back. Steve Nash’s STL/TO ratio is something like 0.25 for his career. Chris Paul? 0.95. Even Rondo, who’s a great defender, puts up a 0.72 for his career. No one’s even close to Paul in overall efficiency.

  81. Juany8

    Well John I guess my question is what the cutoff is? I don’t mean to go all THCJ on you, but it seems that you subjectively use team success to downplay Melo’s value while ignoring it when discussing other players. I’m pretty sure if Melo had played with Shaq his whole career, his playoff record would be monstrously better. Would he suddenly have become a better player? If we can say that Chris Paul has awesome statistics so it’s ok that he has a bad record, it seems to me that your evaluation is mostly about the statistics, then you’re just tacking on team records to try to further your point. If we can determine that a player is a star without team success, then why would team success make someone a star? Besides have you seen Melo’s playoff rosters after he went to the WCF? He lost his coach and some key players the next year, lost both his best teammates (Chauncey and Amar’e) the next year, and this past year Chandler had the flu while Amar’e fucked himself up, and the rest of the team collapsed from injuries around him. If we’re rating him by team success, shouldn’t we wait until he actually has a chance to show what he can do with his actual team? The last time his team was healthy he went to the WCF before giving the 2 time champion Lakers their hardest test of that post season.

  82. johnlocke

    I’m not trying to downplay Melo’s value. All I’m saying is that if you believe that a) in basketball “superstars” have an outsized impact on their team results and b) Melo is a “superstar”.. then bringing up team performance as one data point to analyze Melo’s performance is not “dumb”. There is a huge difference between such an analysis being “dumb” and “the end-all-be-all”. It’s a data point, and I don’t think it’s invalidated by anecdotal counterfactuals (i.e. what if Melo had played with Shaq). Regarding Chris Paul, I’m not saying it’s ok to have a bad record. I’m really addressing why it is that Melo gets a bad rap and Chris Paul doesn’t for example (i.e. look at NBA rank for example). Bringing up the Kobe example doesn’t really help by the way…his individual stats are better than Melo’s

    Juany8:
    Well John I guess my question is what the cutoff is? I don’t mean to go all THCJ on you, but it seems that you subjectively use team success to downplay Melo’s value while ignoring it when discussing other players. I’m pretty sure if Melo had played with Shaq his whole career, his playoff record would be monstrously better.

  83. er

    fair list but you didnt mention that 2 os melos neg years came in 1st and 2nd year in league

    l
    johnlocke:
    Now you’re putting words in my mouth. I never said team success can be attributed to a single player. I also never said it’s the single attribute that defines who’s elite and who’s not. What I said was I think it’s not “dumb” or “unimportant” or “useless” to look at team results as a part of player evaluation for so-called super star players. Just like if you look only at FG% it won’t tell you the whole story, the same is true of team success — it’s an indicator not an absolute rule. Let’s see how the Magic and Bulls do next year. The reason Chris Paul and Melo aren’t in the same conversation is because Chris Paul’s individual statistics (esp. advanced statistics) are vastly superior to Carmelo’s… as is Garnett. Also Melo’s individual playoff performances have been subpar, so that’s why he gets blame for his team’s lack of success.As for Chris Paul, he played with Blake Griffin and took a non-playoff team to the 2nd round where they lost to the team with the best record in the NBA. In NO he played with Tyson Chandler before he was the Chandler we know. David West? Come on now.
    Again, part of the reason Melo gets knocked for team performance (esp. in the playoffs) has been his lack of production in the playoffs relative to other ‘stars/elite players’ including Deron Williams, who he’s closest to on the list below.

    Melo…season .124, playoffs .104 (3 negative years)
    Paul…season.238, playoffs .174 (1 negative year)
    Wade…season .196, playoffs .182
    DWill….season .136, playoffs .147
    Lebron….season .233, playoffs .234

  84. ruruland

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Right. Net possessions don’t mean a thing.

    If steals were the most important aspect of defense you would see a lot more of them. There have been a lot of great thieves who were poor defenders. One of them is mentioned in this thread.

    To say steals = net possessions on defense … no words for how ridiculous that is.

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