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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Carmelo Anthony Trade – Q & A with Roundball Mining Company

Jeremy from Roundball Mining Company, was kind enough to answer some questions about the new Knicks.

BALKMAN
KB: How did Denver use him most often, as a PF or SF?

RMC: Balkman was not used often enough to classify him as either. Two seasons ago I would say he was used more at power forward. Personally I believe he is best utilized as a small forward. He is too light in the rump to cover power forwards on the block, but he is a tremendous rebounder.

Here is an old scouting report on Balkman I produced at my former blog:

KB: Any thoughts on why he wasn’t used more?

RMC: The official line from George Karl was he did not like putting a player who cannot shoot on the floor, but that never seemed to eat into Kenyon Martin’s minutes. Another problem is that Balkman was a little too content to ride the bench. You do not want players always harping about a lack of playing time, but you do want them to want to play.

Personally, I think Balkman belongs in someone’s rotation. Karl is correct when he says he cannot shoot, but that does not mean he cannot score. I would equate Balkman to a possession receiver who finds open spots in the zone. He is always lurking around the rim and has a knack for getting open along the baseline. To continue with the football analogy, apparently, Karl wanted him to be a deep threat instead of a player willing and able to work underneath the coverage.

BILLUPS
KB: Billups minutes have decreased over the last 3 years. Is this due to an improved Nuggets bench or Chauncey’s age?

RMC: Both. Chauncey has really worn down at the end of the previous two seasons. In 2008-09 it happened in the Western Conference finals. Last season it happened in March, which was startling. I do not know if Karl is purposely limiting his minutes or if it is a factor of Ty Lawson being more capable this season as a backup plus Arron Afflalo and J.R. Smith are playing well enough that running Billups at the two is not as good of an idea as it was last season.

Knicks fans should definitely be ready to see Billups’ effectiveness decrease as the season wears on. However, if he were to miss some time it could be a blessing in disguise. In 2009-10 he sat out eight games in December and January and part of two others with a hamstring injury. When he returned he was fresh and immediately produced arguably the best six week stretch of his career. He can still play, when he is rested.

KB: With a career TS% of 58.1%, Billups is extremely efficient. What do you attribute that to?

RMC: Honestly, it is due to hard work, instincts and talent. Chauncey is not the kind of shooter who waits for a swing pass to splash open threes. He takes and makes difficult threes, and he is great off the dribble. I have long hated his run up threes in transition, but according to Synergy, he is as good shooting threes in transition as he is in the half court.

Plus Billups gets to the line far more often than you would expect. You cannot lay off of him as he will shoot at any moment and as a result he is a very good penetrator. He does not get into the lane with speed, but the aforementioned instinct. As John Hollinger has pointed out in the past, you cannot judge Billups by his field goal percentage. His threes and free throws make him much more valuable on offense and efficient than that stat would suggest.

KB: D’Antoni offenses enjoy pushing the ball up, and running the pick & roll. How would you rate Chauncey in these two areas?

RMC: These are two areas where I believe Knicks fans will be disappointed in the swap of Felton and Billups. Chauncey is not a good pick and roll point guard. If he is pressured at all, he simply dribbles away from the pressure and never looks to pass. Chauncey is good at jog it up, but is not a run it up, push the pace for the entire time he is on the floor. When the Nuggets run, it is behind Ty Lawson. Chauncey is more content to take his time.

KB: How would you rate him defensively, let’s say on a scale from 1-5? (1= worst, 5th = best)

RMC: At this point in his career he is a two. He cannot stay in front of anyone anymore and his team defense and rotations have slipped as well. However, that was a problem for the Nuggets as a whole as they have plunged from a perennial top ten team in defensive efficiency to a bottom feeder this season.

KB: Knick fans were pining for Ty Lawson in the draft. How high are Denver fans on him?

RMC: I believe Lawson is a future top ten point guard. He can score and distribute and defensively is much better than expected although he still needs to improve at that end of the floor. The fact that Lawson is ready to start right now is a big reason why Denver was willing to part with Billups.

CARMELO

KB: Let’s start with his defense. Like Billups can you rate it on a scale from 1-5?

RMC: I would have to give Melo a two as well. He will get some steals and blocks, but as any informed fan knows, those do not necessarily translate to good defense. Melo showed some improvement on defense over the last two seasons, but it was an improvement from “where did my man go?” to at least paying attention 80% of the time. He is a very good rebounder from the small forward position and has appeared to accept the challenge of guarding other star scorers recently instead of looking to switch immediately.

I do not think Melo will ever be a player willing to provide timely help or rotate with purpose, but as long as he at least knows where his man is and takes some responsibility for what he does when he has the ball, he can at least provide some assistance on the defensive end.

KB: Carmelo’s rebounding has increased this year (7.8 reb/36) and is at the highest of his career. What do you attribute this change to?

RMC: I honestly do not have a good answer. I think it can partially be attributed to the absence of Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen for much of the first 50 games. Those two are typically the best rebounders Denver puts on the floor and Melo might have simply had a few more opportunities. I suspect you will see Melo continue to rebound well in New York. He has the potential to be a great offensive rebounder, but his effort at that end has been inconsistent on the offensive glass.

KB: Anthony’s three point shooting has been inconsistent over his career. Can you see him ever developing into a consistent league average shooter from downtown?

RMC: If it has not happened by now, I do not expect it to happen at all. Unlike with Billups, most of Melo’s three point attempts are of the catch and shoot variety. He does tend to drift and lean on his shot and you will see him raise his leg to keep balanced. That is something that could possibly be easily rectified. Also, Melo has shot the three in Denver for fun, not out of offensive necessity. With that being a big part of the Knicks offense, maybe he chooses to work on that aspect of his game more in the summer and become at least a passable three point shooter.

KB: Considering that D’Antoni’s offense relies on ball movement and spreading the floor with the three point shot, how well do you see Anthony fitting in with his new coach’s philosophy?

RMC: This is where I take issue with the Knicks’ love for Carmelo. Yes he is a very good scorer, but it comes at the expense of opportunities for others. Anthony has never taken advantage of the attention defenses pay to him by using his talents as a passer to consistently produce easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. Plus he is loves to hold the ball in his hands. I do not see him fitting into D’Antoni’s system very well, especially when Amare wants the ball in his hands as well.

If Fields and Billups are not keeping teams honest from the perimeter, they will pack the paint and make life miserable for Amare and Melo.

KB: Where would you rank Anthony in terms of NBA players right now? Top 10? Top 20?

RMC: I would put Carmelo at the fringe of the top ten. He is inefficient and forces his offense too often, but his talent is undeniable. From a pure ability standpoint Melo is a top five player, but he has never put all of his skills to use and that limits his effectiveness. Carmelo is all about scoring and then scoring some more. With that attitude he severely limits his ability to help his team win games.

23 comments on “Carmelo Anthony Trade – Q & A with Roundball Mining Company

  1. Nick C.

    Pretty sobering interview. I was surprised by him saying Chauncey was not good on PnR after reading somewhere in the 842,762 posts how great and much of an upgrade he would be on the PnR. The beign less effective late in the season was also soemthing I would not have known. The Melo comments were nothing that hasn’t been said before …. Hopefully they do not become prophetic.

  2. Z-man

    Terrific interview, Mike.

    Let’s face it, Felton was not a great PnR guy either. Perhaps it will be Jeremy who is disappointed.

    I also don’t think it’s always the case that players are what they will always be at age 26 and can’t adapt to a new situation. Melo hasn’t played with the likes of Amar’e before, and not for D’Antoni either. From all accounts, when he played in the Olympics, he was outstanding.

    D’Antoni played Jeffries out of necessity, who also had absolutely no offensive game;hopefully he will play Balk some too.

  3. giantg

    Hopefully Melo realizes that he will have to work on his game. Not passing, refining shooting mechanics and not rotating on defense is not acceptable for a max player that wants to compete with Miami, Boston and Chicago

    The last big ticket talent that came back to NY and refused to work on his game and get his teammates involved, fought with his team, warred with his coaches and ended up imploding the Knicks and his career.

  4. Frank

    Does anyone have an idea how much of the offense that was run during the Olympics and World Championships was put in place by D’Antoni? I admit I didn’t watch a single game. Would be very helpful if both Billups and Melo were already somewhat familiar with the offensive concepts. Otherwise a Scott Skiles defense might totally shut us down tonight.

  5. Jim Cavan

    giantg: The last big ticket talent that came back to NY and refused to work on his game and get his teammates involved, fought with his team, warred with his coaches and ended up imploding the Knicks and his career.

    Melo isn’t Starbury. Worrying about whether he can fit into the offense quickly and seamlessly is legitimate. But worrying about him retreating into a manic-depressive shell, eating vaseline and generally becoming a cancer really shouldn’t even be on the radar screen. Melo’s absolutely got flaws, but if anything I think — like Stat — he has the personality and healthy ego to thrive here.

  6. latke

    Jim Cavan:
    Melo isn’t Starbury. Worrying about whether he can fit into the offense quickly and seamlessly is legitimate. But worrying about him retreating into a manic-depressive shell, eating vaseline and generally becoming a cancer really shouldn’t even be on the radar screen. Melo’s absolutely got flaws, but if anything I think — like Stat — he has the personality and healthy ego to thrive here.  

    Good points. Agreed, I think ‘Melo will be good. Don’t forget that D’Antoni can and will adapt his offense. He did it with Shaq, whose game is far more out of whack with SSOL than Carmelo’s. Against slow bigs that won’t show, you’ll see Billups/Amare PnR. Against quicker bigs, you’ll see Amare/Carmelo PnR (with Carmelo at the 3 and Amare at the 5 so teams can’t comfortably switch). Carmelo will get his share of isolations, but they’ll come out of teams switching on the pick and roll.

    One question I would have liked to have seen answered is what kinds of mismatches ‘melo best abuses. I imagine his post up game allows him to abuse smalls, but what about against longer and slower players?

    looking forward to tonight.

  7. david

    The big rotation question is who plays at center in the 28 or so minutes Turiaf doesn’t (and, additionally, who plays the 10 at PF that Amare doesn’t). There are three answers, I think, and the what D’Antoni decides will have a really big effect: Extra E, Balkman and Williams. My guess is that D’Antoni uses Extra E a *lot*, as a Tim Thomas like center, or with a Melo and Williams or Balkman when Amare is out. One of his defensive theories is that you can replace a big with a bunch of length across the front line. We’ll see whether it works.

    My other big rotation question is how the minutes at guard are allocated and whether Fields will see time at the 3 in a 3 guard backcourt. Billups was great at the 2 in the Worlds, and I’d love to see him out there with Douglas, particularly when Melo is out (if balkman or williams is at the 3, we lose a solid ballhandler/shot maker). But Billups can’t log 40 minutes — too old.

    Put together, I think Douglas and Williams are going to play a ton of minutes…..

  8. Kikuchiyo

    I think I speak for many Knickerbloggers when I say that Amar’e’s game has more limitations that we may have expected but that his approach/attitude has been far better than we expected. His commitment to making the team better has allowed him to maximize his great talent. Amar’e has not sulked or bitched or played the prima donna. With Anthony, we need to see the same transition into a team leader. Maybe Amar’e can help with that. Maybe Melo knows that now is his time to step up. Let’s hope so. This interview suggests there are a lot of parts still to be acquired, but that Anthony—in the right mindset—can be the elite player we need. I’ll be looking for the little things, the small cues that tell us about Carmelo’s commitment to winning here.

  9. Z-man

    Kik,
    I disagree, Amar’e’s defensive issues were well documented, so if anything I’ve been impressed with his situational shotblocking. offensively, I have been impressed with his perimeter shooting and his passing. His durability/playing through pain in the face of the pounding he takes is also a plus beyond expectations. There isn’t a single thing I expected out of Amar’e that I have been disappointed by. His vocal leadership and work ethic-based leadership are bonuses since that was not highlighted in Phoenix.

    That said, it is still very early in the contract, but so far, he has played at the ceiling of any realistic range of expectations, IMHO. He is not a selfish, brooding, coach-killing malcontent or just a power dunker with limited skills that needed Nash to be good.

    One question that Felton needs to answer is how good he will be w/o Amar’e or Melo on his team. I could see him losing favor quickly, especially if Lawson steps up as a starter.

  10. Caleb

    I think Melo can improve his efficiency quite a bit – at least, get it back where it was early in his career, when he actually cracked a 58 TS% while at a similarly high usage rate.

    This is a terrific breakdown from NBAPlaybook.
    http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/02/22/what-does-the-carmelo-anthony-trade-mean-for-the-knicks-offense/

    But the writer’s takeaway is that Anthony doesn’t fit the MDA offense – Mainly, because the Nuggets run a ton of isos for him, whereas the Knicks run very few. My take is the opposite – he’ll get less of his offense on isos in New York, which will directly improve his efficiency.

    I am not too worried about Melo and the offense. My issues with the trade are 3) defense; 2) opportunity cost; 1) a signal that Dolan is running the show.

    I would bet with David that Extra-E will get more run – that’s what D’Antoni did before he brought Mozgov out of mothballs. I was surprised to see what a strong rebounder Shelden Williams is – in Atlanta I remembered him as 100 percent stiff – but he has less offensive game than Jared Jeffries. He’s just not the MDA type. Same goes for Balkman – he could help the team at least a little (he’s a better version of Corey Brewer) but he probably won’t get the chance. Not sure Brewer will, either. I guess one of them will have to play sometimes.

    When Turiaf can’t go, I’d bet that Stoudemire plays most of the center minutes, with Carmelo at the 4. We’ll just play a lot of small lineups.

    In the short-term I’d be most worried about PG. Billups is our only option. Unfortunately, while Felton was a good defender, Billups will be brutalized. If we had a real backup PG we could let Billups guard the 2 – but as good a defender as Douglas is, we just can’t afford to let him run the point more than 10-15 minutes a game. Anthony Carter is even worse as a shooter but we may see a bit of him while MDA experiments.

  11. Caleb

    Z-man: Kik,
    I disagree, Amar’e’s defensive issues were well documented, so if anything I’ve been impressed with his situational shotblocking.offensively, I have been impressed with his perimeter shooting and his passing. His durability/playing through pain in the face of the pounding he takes is also a plus beyond expectations. There isn’t a single thing I expected out of Amar’e that I have been disappointed by.His vocal leadership and work ethic-based leadership are bonuses since that was not highlighted in Phoenix.That said, it is still very early in the contract, but so far, he has played at the ceiling of any realistic range of expectations, IMHO.  

    Amare has played reasonably well but IMO he has been a disappointment on offense. Here’s his TS% the last five years: 63.7, 65.6, 61.7, 61.5, 57.0.

    Maybe he misses Nash… or his knees are sore.. but maybe it’s just the effect of shooting even more (his usage rate is over 28, whereas in Phoenix it ranged from 21.7 to 24.7)

    That could turn out to be a side benefit of Carmelo – if Stoudemire’s usage rate drops to 23 or 24, will his TS% go back up?

  12. Z-man

    Fair point, Caleb, but it was expected by me (and others?) that his TS% might take a hit, probably because he is playing with worse players overall (most notably Felton, who clearly is not in the same universe offensively as Nash). However, there were some who thought he would become “ordinary” without Nash. In my opinion, to keep his TS% at 57 at a usage of 28 is, and was, well within reasonable expectations.

    Here is a list of players who have played at least 36mpg, with a usage rate of >30 and a TS%>57. To describe this year’s stats as a “disappointment” is a bit harsh, especially considering that he is the elder statesman of his team at age 27 and w/o anyone close to an all-star caliber player.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&type=totals&per_minute_base=36&lg_id=NBA&is_playoffs=N&year_min=&year_max=&franch_id=&season_start=1&season_end=-1&age_min=0&age_max=99&height_min=0&height_max=99&birth_country_is=Y&birth_country=&is_active=&is_hof=&pos=&qual=&c1stat=usg_pct&c1comp=gt&c1val=30&c2stat=ts_pct&c2comp=gt&c2val=.57&c3stat=mp_per_g&c3comp=gt&c3val=35&c4stat=&c4comp=gt&c4val=&c5stat=&c5comp=gt&c6mult=1.0&c6stat=&order_by=per

  13. d-mar

    My recollection of Balkman’s best game as a Knick was one I went to against the Nuggets a few years ago, when he shut down a certain All Star named Carmelo in the 4th quarter, was all over the court grabbing rebounds, blocking shots and spurred the Knicks to a dramatic victory. I remember turning to my son and asking him who was the MVP of the game, and without hesitation he replied “Definitely Renaldo Balkman” Will we ever see that guy again?

  14. Caleb

    @12 Yes, it’s only a disappointment by his very high standards. he’s been great on offense, it’s just that the past few years he’s been maybe the most effective scoring power forward ever, at least in a class with Barkley. And he better be great because he’s a weak rebounder and iffy defender.

    I actually don’t think Nash/Felton has much to do with the falloff – if I had to guess, it’s a combination of sore knees (some nights he just doesn’t have it) and overuse. My hope: if he cuts back the load just a bit – with Carmelo – he will return to Phoenix heights..

  15. Caleb

    Holy crap, nice move Nets!

    I wonder if he agreed to extend…. hard to imagine he would, already. If he didn’t, that is one ballsy (or idiotic) trade.

  16. jaylamerique

    Caleb: Holy crap, nice move Nets!I wonder if he agreed to extend…. hard to imagine he would, already. If he didn’t, that is one ballsy (or idiotic) trade.  

    Williams is nice and all but the Nets are still going to suck because Lopez is allergic to rebounding and defense and Vujaci is their starting shooting guard with outlaw on the bench.

  17. jaylamerique

    massive: So the Nets end up with the better player in this deal? I hate this.  

    that is a horrible trade for Utah, the nets were going to send four picks to the Nuggets and they only get Harris and Favors.

  18. ess-dog

    The idea of using Chauncey as a 2 with TD as a defend and shoot 1 never occurred to me. I can see D’Antoni using this with either Fields sliding to the 3 or when he’s on the bench. This could take a lot of pressure off Chauncey since he’s you know, 70 years old.

    Another pure passing point guard like Sessions would be a nice addition, but I just don’t see it happening. I agree that we’ll see extra e at the 4 AND 5 probably quite often and hopefully he can have a Robert Horry effect instead of a Shwane Williams effect. Again, I don’t see an upgrade at the 5 as possible either. Maybe we bring in a d-leaguer or Barron to fill the extra spot.

  19. ess-dog

    Utah must’ve really seen Deron as a malcontent. But Favors, Harris, the Nets 1st this year and the Warriors 1st next year is not a bad haul. It’s probably at least as good as Gallo, Chandler, Timo, and Ray, lol. I wonder if AK is next?

  20. Ben R

    Wow that makes this Melo trade look even worse. Maybe we could have let Melo go to NJ and do the Melo trade for Williams. Oh well.

    If Utah is in firesale mode do you think we could get Okur for expirings?

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