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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Knicks Morning News (2014.08.10)

  • [New York Times] Taurasi Lifts Phoenix to 82-80 Win Over Lynx (Sun, 10 Aug 2014 05:15:09 GMT)
    The matchup of the best two teams in the WNBA came down to the final seconds and Diana Taurasi got the win for the Phoenix Mercury.

  • 100 comments on “Knicks Morning News (2014.08.10)

    1. Z-man

      The Melo vs. Love (and I would add vs. Durant) debate is an interesting one. I watched the Melo 62-point game highlights vs. the Love 51-pt game highlights. I think it is clear that Melo has more ways to score than Love, especially when closely contested. Unfortunately, what sticks out the most is how many of Melo’s points are off of mid-range isolation where he has the ball for several seconds before shooting it. There were several instances where the defense collapsed leaving a teammate open at the 3-point line but Melo shot anyway. I think that that’s a shot that the Spurs never take, they always move the ball to the open shooter. Love mixed in a few iso’s, but most resulted in jump hooks near the basket.

      That’s the essential problem with Melo. He has spent his entire career playing essentially one way, namely, isolations on demand. At the same time, he has been the “brain” of his teams, and his way of playing has been detrimental to his teams. If he had a TS% of over 60%, it ouldn’t be as big of a deal. But despite his formidable skills on offense (and I truly believe that Melo is more skilled than Love) I would guess that about 1 in every 3-4 shots that Melo attempts is a shot that should not have been taken. Whether it’s out of impatience, selfishness, lack of trust, poor coaching, etc., it’s a problem.

      Phil and Fisher know that the success of their regime hinges in large part on solving that problem. It will be interesting to see whether they have the fortitude to hold Melo accountable in that way. Essentially, what they have to tell Melo is that each situation in the triangle presents a best strategic decision. Regardless of the outcome of the possession, the goal is to create the best statistical shot opportunity. Somehow, Jax and Fish have to use film and statistics to define the most inefficient 25% of Melo’s shots, and get him to eliminate those shots from his game.

    2. Z-man

      (Continued…) A problem with doing this is that Melo is a pretty good “bad” shot maker. There are probably several kinds of shots that he has a high “relative” FG% on but a much lower “absolute” percentage. So, for example, if he makes 45% of his turnaround fadeaway from the baseline while everyone else makes 35%, he doesn’t get that its a bad shot anyway, and that a 3-pt shot from a guy who hits only 33% from there is a statistically better shot. Not only that, it takes him out of the play when he misses and might lead to transition opportunities that his teammates have to defend until he gets back into the play.

      In this sense, I think that Melo would be a better complementary player than Love. Melo has all the tools that Love has, and some that he doesn’t, but he doesn’t use his tools as effectively as he could and should. The question is, is it situational or is it a deeply-seated b-ball IQ thing? On the USA team, he plays with the best “thinkers” in the game so that burden is completely removed from his shoulders. The bottom 25% of his repertoire is eliminated.

      So somehow, the Knicks need to find that combination of players that can turn him into the Melo of international play. Kidd was helpful in this regard before his shooting completely collapsed. I think Calderon is a short-term band-aid in that direction, but that needs to be the focus in the 2015 free agency/draft window. Just getting a second star (e.g. Love) would not solve the problem. Neither are a bunch of stopgap near-retirees, like we had in 2012-13. Maybe we don’t win a championship with Melo, but if we could just play inspired, intelligent basketball like the Spurs do, I could live with it. I’m just so freakin’ sick and tired of dull “chuck a million 3′s or run 20 seconds worth of iso” basketball.

    3. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      Melo is the best one-on-one player I’ve seen on the Knicks, who I started following in the mid-nineties. Watching him operate from the triple-threat position is awesome.

      Unfortunately, that doesn’t make him the best player.

      And eliminating the worst 25% of his shot attempts really means converting them to better shot attempts. Watching the 3-point shootout (and all of the misses from the league’s best shooters, without even a defender to pressure them) should remind everyone that an ideal shot attempt improves the chances of it going in from, say, 40% to 55%.

      This could make Carmelo marginally better, but it’s a hard road there.

    4. lavor postell

      I was just fiddling around on b-ref and damn Mullin was a lights out scorer. From age 25 to 36 he posted a 60.1 TS%, 54.8 eFG%, 39.2 3P% 16.6 AST% and .147 WS/48. Absolutely crazy.

    5. Z-man

      I remember Mullin as a very poor man’s Larry Bird. If he was as tall as Larry Bird, the comparison would have been just a poor man’s.

    6. lavor postell

      Z-man shouldn’t you be cleaning the garage?!?!?!

      Haha I think I would be happy with a poor man’s Larry Bird anytime on my team.

    7. DRed

      One thing Kevin Love can do that Melo can’t is be as big as Kevin Love. Size matters in basketball.

    8. Z-man

      @4 Agreed that for a guy Melo’s age it would be hard w/o some very important external changes. But you have to start somewhere, and having Phil at the helm is a good start. Calderon is a good stopgap PG, and having a savvy PG (pass-first but opportunistic and efficient) helps with this, as Kidd demonstrated in dozens of games.

      You have to wonder if anyone ever sits down with a player like Melo and goes over this with him. I mean, is he so dense that beating him over the head with advanced stats and film is (or has been) futile? Jax should show him how Paul Pierce jumped over the .200 WS/48 barrier later in his career almost entirely by lowering his usg% and taking 3-4 less shots per game. (when the big 3 were assembled, his TS% went up 30 points but his PER went down…Jowles’ issue with PER on display!) At a glance, it looks like Pierce accomplished this in part by taking less shots and in part by lowering the % of long 2′s he took from 26% to 18% and increasing the amount of 3′s he took.

    9. Z-man

      Yeah, size matters, but only relative to your position, and the size difference is negligible in that regard.

      OK back to the garage. :(

    10. thenoblefacehumper

      Z-man I think that was very good analysis, but it only dealt with scoring. When comparing Love and Melo you have to mention Love’s elite rebounding, Melo doesn’t have a skill on par with it. As for scoring, this year Love scored at Melo-esque volume with efficiency that Melo has never had. I just don’t think it’s particularly close. Whether Melo can get better or not at this stage in his career is another issue, but I would trade him for Love in a second even if they were the same age.

    11. stratomatic

      Wait a minute, there is actually a debate here about the value of Love and Melo?

      It’s not even close. Love is worth SEVERAL points more per game than Melo.

      I wish more people would take up sports gambling so I could compete against anyone that thinks Melo’s value is anywhere near Love’s. If you guys want to learn more about valuing players you should watch line movements when key players are in or out. You’ll learn quickly. Not that all lines are perfect, but they are more efficient than any casual analysis using some simple metrics.

    12. lavor postell

      I gamble quite a bit on basketball. Remove Love and Melo from their team’s lineups for a given game and you’ll see similar movement in the point spread. I’m fairly confident in betting on the Wolves a lot during the 12/13 season that they don’t value Love nearly as much as a lot of people on this board.

      Also just because they shift a line by X amount of points because Y is out with an injury against team ABC doesn’t paint an exact picture of how they value player Y. There are too many variables involved and nobody knows for sure what a book’s intention may be when they set a line.

    13. swiftandabundant

      Shouldn’t we throw in the fact that Love has missed a decent amount of games the last few seasons while Melo is pretty durable into the equation on who is more valuable and the better player? If your team is gonna miss a key player for a decent chunk of the season doesn’t that hurt the team.

    14. Z-man

      http://bkref.com/tiny/Sg80n

      Strat and tnfh, I think you have to look more carefully at the numbers.

      Both guys posted career high WS48. Aside from rebounding (Love has the clear advantage) there were glaring similarities. First, they both shot at nearly the same FG%, 45.2 for Melo and 45.7 for Love. The difference in their TS% is due mainly to 1.5 more FTA per 36, and the difference in eFG% is due mainly to 1.5 more 3pt attempts per 36. This is clear in Love’s higher relative FTr and 3PAr. Even though I agree that Love had the edge on offense, I’d say that they were well within the statistical margin of error last season.

    15. ptmilo

      I’m on the Love-is-materially-better side. If I had to pick the over-under movement on expected wins if the Cavs swapped out Love for Melo, it’d be 4 or 5. A big factor is how much Love has improved. It’s not just that the Wolves have been terrible; Love wasn’t much as a rookie and took a while to become the player he was last year. His three biggest improvements: Went from a well below average defender to a pretty good defender with some weaknesses, became a volume 3pt shooter, became the best outlet passer in the NBA. The Wolves last year were the 9th best team in the NBA by point differential and would have made the playoffs in 95% of NBA seasons. And that’s with Rick Adleman spending the final minute of every game listening to Deepak Chopra books on tape. Carmelo is a very good player. He is Adrian Dantley or pre-injury Bernard King. But I think Love has improved enough to be a full level up if he stays healthy. Dirk or Barkley.

    16. thenoblefacehumper

      The difference in their TS% is due mainly to 1.5 more FTA per 36, and the difference in eFG% is due mainly to 1.5 more 3pt attempts per 36. This is clear in Love’s higher relative FTr and 3PAr

      Is Love getting to the line more and taking better shots not something that should be taken into account? Even if you’re of the opinion that Melo gets screwed in terms of calls, you can’t take that into account when evaluating who adds more wins to a team between Love and Melo. If you concede that Love is better on offense, wouldn’t he have to be insanely bad on defense to make the comparison at all viable? For what it’s worth, he didn’t make Minnesota any worse on defense per 100 possessions (which may not be worth a lot, but if he was the sieve everyone seems to think he is I doubt it would be true).

    17. Z-man

      “If you concede that Love is better on offense, wouldn’t he have to be insanely bad on defense to make the comparison at all viable?”

      No, I am only conceding that Love is at best marginally better than Melo on offense, and that the difference is based on marginally better shot selection and free throw rate. Therefore he would have to be a somewhat better defender.

      I think ptmilo’s 4-5 win difference is very dubious. Does anyone really think that swapping Love for Melo on last years Knicks and Wolves would have made much difference for either team? Or that Love will mean 5 more wins for next year’s Cavs than Melo would have?

    18. stratomatic

      Lavor,

      Love was playing hurt during most of the 12/13 season. He wasn’t valued highly because he wasn’t playing well when he was in. When he’s playing his best, he’s valued highly.

      There have been gambling discussions at Sloan where the primary topic was Melo being overrated in line movements and how smart gamblers were using that information.

      I don’t think this is even close enough to warrant a discussion. Despite some shortcomings on defense (which Melo has also), when Love is healthy he’s in the discussion for 3rd best player in the NBA after James and Durant. Melo is not the 3rd best SF in the NBA. Paul George is because he’s a way better defender.

      Love is the more efficient high usage scorer, WAY WAY better rebounder, and actually makes more plays for his teammates because he’s got such a great outlet pass. The only thing Melo does better is score reasonably well in more ways, but the gap is large.

      I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of Melo. He had a career year last year (we’ll see if he duplicates or improves on it in a non contract year for Phil in the triangle), but Love is knocking on the door of greatness.

    19. stratomatic

      No, I am only conceding that Love is at best marginally better than Melo on offense, and that the difference is based on marginally better shot selection and free throw rate.

      The problem with this is that Melo is not some young kid whose shot selection and shot will almost certainly improve with time. He’s a veteran that has already improved his 3 point shooting. His problem has always been shot selection. Love is MORE LIKELY to improve in both areas because he’s younger and has missed time due to injury.

    20. Z-man

      I would also say that while Melo isn’t Scottie Pippin, he’s a much more versatile defender than Love. He’s much more likely to be assigned to guard Durant, LeBron and when they go small, has to guard West, Love, or Griffin. That kind of stuff doesn’t show up in the box score as readily as rebounds, but it is a factor in comparing players.

    21. Hubert

      The Melo vs. Love (and I would add vs. Durant) debate is an interesting one

      Not sure why you would add Durant. Melo & Love, IMO, are in the same tier of NBA player. Who’s better will vacillate year to year. Though if you’re thoroughly dogmatic and are committed to overvaluing offensive rebounds, you will never believe Melo is ever better than Love. Both are great 1A guys, neither is a legit 1. Kevin Love could never ever ever be the best player on a championship team in the NBA as we know it, and neither can Melo.

      Durant can be, and almost certainly will be.

    22. Hubert

      My main issue in this argument, though, is the point that Owen & Jowles are making, i.e. we will see how much better Love is than Melo when the Cavs win 60+ games and eventually a title at some point.

      On the one hand, I understand it’s a counter to the foolish argument people make about love not being able to make the playoffs. On the other hand, it’s equally foolish to compare two equal players when player A’s best teammate is LeBron James and player B’s best teammate is Jose Calderon.

    23. DRed

      Both are great 1A guys, neither is a legit 1.

      So they’re one meaningless term, not a different meaningless term?

    24. Hubert

      It’s only a meaningless term in the sense that you don’t define it, and in that post I (at least I attempted to) define a 1 guy as someone who can be the best player on a championship team. I just don’t see how Love, in the current landscape, could ever be that guy. And I actually think Melo is closer to being able to. 2 years ago, for instance, if you give him a healthy Chandler, a real coach, and an above average PG, we could have won that title.

      I don’t think Love could have done the same. I just don’t have a stat to prove it.

    25. JK47

      Though if you’re thoroughly dogmatic and are committed to overvaluing offensive rebounds, you will never believe Melo is ever better than Love.

      It’s not just offensive rebounds– Love is an excellent OVERALL rebounder, and finishes in the top ten in defensive rebounding percentage every single year, which really mitigates some of his shortcomings on the defensive end. If you’re grabbing lots of defensive rebounds, you’re obviously ending lots of opposition possessions. He was the third best defensive rebounder in the league last year, and that gives him a rather large leg up on Melo.

    26. Totes McGoats

      Comparing Melo and Love or even going over the pros and cons of each one is a tough one. My take? Both are incredible players. Incredible. I’m not big on advanced stats, but I respect them enough to follow it the best that I can. At this point in their careers..I would say Love is more valuable because he’s 26, 6’11″ 250, and rebounds just as well as he scores. Plus he adds in a few assists per. But I don’t necessarily think he’s better than Melo. Listen, the MJ’s the Shaq’s the Kobe’s and the like didn’t win because they were dominant on D. They won because they were primarily cold blooded killers on offense. Melo is in that class of elite scoring ability. Right now in the NBA, there are 3 players by my count who are head and shoulders the cream of the league when it comes to inside-outside offense. Melo, LeBron, and Love. That’s it. Those are the only players that can kill you inside and outside at will. U know what..I’m gonna add Dirk. I was really short-sighted to not add Dirk. Out of those 4, only LBJ and Dirk have chips. LBJ was AMAZING in Cleveland, but he couldn’t win until the right kind of team was built around him. Dirk was AMAZING all of his years in Dallas. But it wasn’t until Cuban put the right pieces around him that he got some bling. So, as bad as I want to see Melo make some changes that are more conducive to better efficiency and carrying his team to postseason success, I hafta pull up on expecting it because overall- his teammates just haven’t been the best fit. Nor has his coaches. Ditto for Love. Those 2 guys are busting their asses night in and night out, but basketball still is a team game. Listen..there’s a reason why Kobe hasn’t won since Phil left. Circumstances changed for the worse just enough to move Kobe off his perch. And that LA team was largely the same the following year. U gotta have the right system in place from top to bottom plus guys buyin in on all levels. Love and Melo have never had that. But both guys…

    27. JK47

      If Nowitzki could be the best player on a championship team, Love could definitely be the best player on a championship team.

    28. lavor postell

      @stratomatic

      I know Love was hurt, but even a 70% Love should have had a major impact on a roster that we’ve discussed talked about as being awful for the most part. The fact was Love presence or absence didn’t affect game-to-game spreads as much as I expected and that made betting on the T’Wolves that year an interesting proposition.

      I think Melo’s impact on the Nuggets was a lot less than his impact currently on the Knicks, especially for the past 2.5 years. I’ll just say that at the time of the Melo trade I wasn’t very high on him as a player (I didn’t post here then so you can either trust me or not) and I thought the Nuggets would maintain their level of play with the players we gave up and perhaps even improve.

      As such I started hammering their point spreads for the rest of that season. Their first game after the trade was a home game against a Celtics team finishing up a West Coast trip and the line opened up with the Celtics favored by 3 points and I immediately took the Nuggets on the moneyline to win straight up. Melo’s scoring at that point in his career was overrated and more importantly I feel that his effect on his teammates was marginal at best.

      I think since Woodson took over during the clusterfuck of the 2011-12 season and Melo really bought in to whatever that “system” was his game and effect on teammates has improved. His development as a dead eye three point shooter in particular has helped him in this regard as well as him becoming a passable league average defensive player who in a coherent system is capable of being effective like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce suddenly managed when they were backed up by an all-time great defender like KG. I rate Melo and Love similarly defensively and I think both in a proper system would be fine.

      Point being I think the last 2 years we’ve been significantly worse without Melo. I do agree that Love will be better over the next 5 years than Melo though I think we’ll…

    29. Hubert

      If Nowitzki could be the best player on a championship team, Love could definitely be the best player on a championship team.

      That’s like saying if Beethoven could write the 5th symphony, Bon Jovi could have also.

      I can see why people may think Love is a full head above Melo, I just don’t agree. But I cannot even imagine how someone could think Love & peak Dirk Nowitzki are remotely comparable.

    30. lavor postell

      Oh and I’m also the moron who predicted the Knicks would come close to 50 wins this year. I know how stupid it is to say that Melo has improved in impacting teammates right after the conclusion of a season in which we won 37 games, but I think playing Bargs heavy minutes, Chandler’s absence for an extended period, poor coaching on both sides of the ball and career worst years for multiple players were the main culprits. Melo was truly great this past year which along with 2012-13 were easily the best years of his career IMO.

    31. DRed

      They won because they were primarily cold blooded killers on offense. Melo is in that class of elite scoring ability.

      Just minus the whole elite efficiency bit. Being inside/outside is good, I suppose, but only as a means to an end, which is scoring efficiently.

    32. lavor postell

      That’s like saying if Beethoven could write the 5th symphony, Bon Jovi could have also.

      I can see why people may think Love is a full head above Melo, I just don’t agree. But I cannot even imagine how someone could think Love & peak Dirk Nowitzki are remotely comparable.

      This.

      Maybe Love gets there, but that 2011 Dirk playoff run is one of the more incredible things I’ve ever seen in my life watching basketball.

    33. DRed

      Maybe Love gets there, but that 2011 Dirk playoff run is one of the more incredible things I’ve ever seen in my life watching basketball.

      I think you meant “Mavs playoff run”. Without Tyson, Kidd, Jason Terry going bonkers in the finals, etc, that team doesn’t win and you’re writing how Kevin Love is a 1B2 class player just like that proven loser Dirk Nowitzki.

      Dirk went 57-25 that year. The next year, he was only 36-30. Why was Dirk so much worse the next season?

    34. dtrickey

      I can see why people may think Love is a full head above Melo, I just don’t agree. But I cannot even imagine how someone could think Love & peak Dirk Nowitzki are remotely comparable.

      Dirk is a regular season and Finals MVP. There’s no doubt that Love is great player, but can you honestly see him being an MVP? If he was the lead guy maybe, but not if he is going to be playing with Irving and LeBron.

    35. Donnie Walsh

      If Beethoven could write the 5th Symphony, Bon Jovi could have also.

      More importantly, if Beethoven could write his 5th Symphony, why couldn’t he also write Living on a Prayer?

    36. DRed

      Dirk is a regular season and Finals MVP. There’s no doubt that Love is great player, but can you honestly see him being an MVP? If he was the lead guy maybe, but not if he is going to be playing with Irving and LeBron.

      MVP is a media award. Do I see K Love winning an MVP-maybe? Certainly not next year, but if Lebron slips a bit in the next few years and they’re still on a really good Cavs team it’s possible. The media is going to flip on Love after Lebron teaches him the secret to winning next year (be on a team with other really good players), and the whole Lebron passes the torch to Kevin Love is the sort of narrative the lamestream media laps up. Kevin probably won’t ever be the best player in the league, but you could say that about a bunch of MVPs. He’s as good as Dirk was when Dirk was 25.

    37. JK47

      Player A:
      .566 TS%, 20.9 TRB%, 10.9 TOV%, .189 WS48

      Player B:
      .577 TS%, 12.7 TRB%, 9.3 TOV%, .194 WS48

      Pretty comparable players, no? I’ll give you a hint who they are: Player B is Beethoven ages 20-25, and Player A is Bon Jovi ages 20-25.

    38. dtrickey

      MVP is a media award. Do I see K Love winning an MVP-maybe? Certainly not next year, but if Lebron slips a bit in the next few years and they’re still on a really good Cavs team it’s possible.

      Regardless if it’s a media award, they don’t usually just give it out to spuds. I would be happy to conceded there is a possibility of Love making an MVP push. You tend to forget that he hasn’t reached his prime years yet.

    39. lavor postell

      I think you meant “Mavs playoff run”. Without Tyson, Kidd, Jason Terry going bonkers in the finals, etc, that team doesn’t win and you’re writing how Kevin Love is a 1B2 class player just like that proven loser Dirk Nowitzki.

      Dirk went 57-25 that year. The next year, he was only 36-30. Why was Dirk so much worse the next season?

      No I actually meant that Dirk run.
      21 games, 60.9 TS%, 51.4 eFG%, 46.0 3P%, 23.2 DRB%, 13.3 AST%, 32.0 USG%, .210 WS/48, 39.3 MPG

      Clearly other guys contributed a lot to that championship team. I wasn’t implying that they didn’t, but Dirk was on another level throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

      I also didn’t say Kevin Love was a loser. I’ve said that he’s one of the best players in the league despite whatever I perceive to be his weaknesses.

      I don’t think we’ll ever see eye to eye about Melo or Love but I agree with your point and like I said whatever qualms I have about Love are picking nits on the margins. There’s no question he’s one of the best players in the league.

      http://knickerblogger.net/the-quincy-acy-trade-a-knicksplainer/#comment-477434

    40. DRed

      No I actually meant that Dirk run.
      21 games, 60.9 TS%, 51.4 eFG%, 46.0 3P%, 23.2 DRB%, 13.3 AST%, 32.0 USG%, .210 WS/48, 39.3 MPG

      Clearly other guys contributed a lot to that championship team. I wasn’t implying that they didn’t, but Dirk was on another level throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

      Putting up a .210 WS is really good over 21 playoff games, but it’s not some historically dominant on another level individual performance. Dirk was even better the year before-and he won nothing, because his team didn’t play as well.

    41. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      Kawhi Leonard and Nic Batum are each better than Paul George. George is not the 3rd best SF.

      You know what Paul George is, relative to the league’s SF?

      3rd in scoring. No joke.

    42. lavor postell

      Putting up a .210 WS is really good over 21 playoff games, but it’s not some historically dominant on another level individual performance. Dirk was even better the year before-and he won nothing, because his team didn’t play as well.

      When did I say that his teammates didn’t play well?

      I’m comfortable saying that Dirk was clearly the MVP of that playoff run and he had several incredible performances along the way. It sure helped that Kidd and Terry went bonkers in a lot of games in the playoffs and that Chandler was healthy and able to provide very good defense and some highly efficient scoring. I just found what Dirk did in various performances against Portland, the Lakers, OKC and Miami to be transcendent.

    43. Hubert

      JK47:

      Dirk Nowitzki was an extremely better and more evolved basketball player when he won the title than he was at age 25. It means nothing that they are similar at their respective age 25 seasons because Dirk had a long way to go before he could win a title as the best player on his team. You can’t just project Dirk’s growth as a player onto Kevin Love because they had similar beginnings.

      You stated, very explicitly, that Kevin Love could be the best player on a title winning team because a player vastly superior to him was, and then to support your argument you showed me some statistics from when said player wasn’t nearly as good as he was when he won the title.

      If you want to tell me that if Kevin Love becomes vastly superior to who he is now, he could be the best player on a title-winning team, I’d agree with you. Actually, you’d be agreeing with me, because my point was neither he nor Melo are on that level right now.

    44. Hubert

      Do I see K Love winning an MVP-maybe? Certainly not next year, but if Lebron slips a bit in the next few years and they’re still on a really good Cavs team it’s possible.

      So not only is Kevin Love equal to peak Dirk Nowitzki, he could eclipse LeBron James in the foreseeable future. I swear, sometimes I miss RuRuland.

      Youse all done lost your friggin’ minds.

      This is like when music snobs get together and decide that a certain band is greater than all other bands because of some specific feature that only they know is great while the rest of us plebes sit around listening to drudge.

      Kevin Love is an awesome basketball player. Kevin Love is not as great as some statistics are leading you to believe.

    45. Hubert

      I wish more people would take up sports gambling so I could compete against anyone that thinks Melo’s value is anywhere near Love’s. If you guys want to learn more about valuing players you should watch line movements when key players are in or out. You’ll learn quickly. Not that all lines are perfect, but they are more efficient than any casual analysis using some simple metrics.

      I’ll take up your challenge. We’ll pick 2 games a week and you use your system to predict the winners. I will make my picks by asking the receptionist at my office which city she would rather visit, or which uniform she likes better, or who she thinks would win in a fight between a Bull and a Bobcat. I want to see how your vaunted system holds up over the course of a year.

    46. johnno

      “I wish more people would take up sports gambling so I could compete against anyone that thinks Melo’s value is anywhere near Love’s. If you guys want to learn more about valuing players you should watch line movements when key players are in or out.”
      Actually, movement of sports lines when a player is in or out has nothing to do with the player’s value. Rather, it has everything to do with what the sports books think that the public believes that player’s value to be. Two very different things. The goal of a betting line is to get the same number of people to bet on each team, so they adjust the line to swing bets one way or the other. If the public is delusional enough to believe that Raymond Felton is extremely valuable and the Mavericks announce that he won’t play that night, the line will move to get people to keep betting on the Mavs and their opponents equally, regardless of Felton’s “real” value — or lack thereof. When the Jets played the Colts in the Super Bowl, the line was something like 20 points. The handicappers caught a lot of crap when the Jets won, but the handicappers were 100% right, since their goal was not to pick the winner but, rather, to get people to bet on the Jets. By the way, as long as were talking about gambling, what’s the over/under on how many days we will keep the “who’s better, Love or Melo” debate going?

    47. DRed

      So not only is Kevin Love equal to peak Dirk Nowitzki, he could eclipse LeBron James in the foreseeable future. I swear, sometimes I miss RuRuland.

      . . .

      Kevin Love is an awesome basketball player. Kevin Love is not as great as some statistics are leading you to believe.

      And you know this how?

      Also, I don’t think you understand my MVP argument. MVP is a media award that doesn’t always reflect who the best basketball player in the NBA is. Saying Kevin Love could win an MVP doesn’t mean I think Kevin Love will be the best player in the NBA.

    48. Hubert

      Here’s my thing with Love, and I’ll use this piece from Z-Man on Paul Pierce to make my point:

      Jax should show him how Paul Pierce jumped over the .200 WS/48 barrier later in his career almost entirely by lowering his usg% and taking 3-4 less shots per game. (when the big 3 were assembled, his TS% went up 30 points but his PER went down…Jowles’ issue with PER on display!) At a glance, it looks like Pierce accomplished this in part by taking less shots and in part by lowering the % of long 2?s he took from 26% to 18% and increasing the amount of 3?s he took.

      Now obviously it comes down to teammates. It’s easier to get Paul Pierce to lower his usg when he’s playing with KG, Allen, and Rondo than when he’s playing with Jefferson, Gomes, and West.

      For their careers, Love is a 25.3% USG and Melo is at 31.7.

      And here is the conundrum that a great player faces on a bad team, and it’s one that I always thought RuRu did an excellent job of explaining (back when the same people saying Love is clearly better than Melo were saying that Deron Williams is demonstrably better than Melo, too, and all of us who didn’t think so were crazy):

      Is operating at your own peak efficiency the best way for a bad team to win?

      Kevin Love is more efficient than Melo because he doesn’t take as many bad shots. But you can’t possibly believe that all the bad shots he doesn’t take end up as good shots for his teammates. Love transfers the bad shots to players who aren’t as good as him, thus decreasing the likelihood of them being converted. And that ABSOLUTELY has been a factor in why his teams have never made the playoffs.
      ….

    49. Hubert

      …Melo, as we all know, does the opposite and goes too far in doing so. He’s never going to be as efficient because he has hero disease. But there is an argument to be made that him taking those bad shots (and being rather good at making them) that reduce his efficiency actually is part of the reason he’s had more team success than Love.

      I’m sorry, but there is absolutely zero conclusive evidence to say that being more efficient translates to more team success when your teammates suck, so dogmatically sticking to efficiency numbers while ignoring the fact that operating at your own personal peak efficiency may not be the best thing for your team to succeed strikes me as unreasonable.

    50. Hubert

      And while Melo strikes me as someone who plays hero too much to his team’s detriment because he doesn’t honor efficiency as much as he should, Love strikes me as someone who possibly games his own stats because he is hyper aware of efficiency, equally to his team’s detriment.

      Stick either player next to LeBron and they’re going to be fucking amazing. Make either guy have to be the man on a bad team and that team isn’t going to be good enough due to each player’s deficiencies, but just for different reasons.

      And for the record, I said I would take Love over Melo, I just think it’s close and they’re in the same tier. I don’t think the difference is as great as a dogmatic application of efficiency numbers would lead us to believe.

    51. DRed

      Kevin Love has been a top 10 usage guy the last few seasons and he’s managed to score fairly efficiently while still being a fantastic rebounder. So I don’t see the evidence to support the idea that Kevin Love is passing up shots. Only 8 guys in the whole NBA shot more frequently than Love did last year.

    52. Hubert

      So I don’t see the evidence to support the idea that Kevin Love is passing up shots.

      I said he’s passing up more shots than Melo, and I cited the evidence. Comparing his USG to good players on good teams does nothing to counter my point that he may not be taking enough shots for a great player on a terrible team. The relevant comp would be comparing Love’s USG to other great players surrounded by shitty teammates.

      Pierce, in Z-Man’s example, was at 31.2 and 30.7 when he was playing with terrible teammates.

      When LeBron was carrying a pile of garbage to his first NBA finals he was at 33.5.

      When Dwyane Wade’s best teammates in 2009 & 2010 were Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, and Mario Chalmers, he upped his USG to 36.2 and 34.9!!! And he had his best seasons as a pro, because peak Dwyane Wade was pretty damn amazing.

      And of course, when Kobe’s best teammates besides Lamar Odom were Smush Parker and Devean George, he took it to ridiculous levels in 2006 and posted a 38.7

      Most great players on bad teams increase their usage to increase their team’s chances of success. But Kevin Love has always been pretty cool with not doing that. He’s been totally fine chilling at 28.7 and 28.8, even when he’s on a 26 win team and his best teammate is Luke Ridnour. I’m sorry, but that’s too low, and that’s why the “but he never made the playoffs” argument exists. Because all those other guys carried shit teams to the playoffs, in part by increasing their USG to reduce the amount of shots that bad players would take. Love has never shown a willingness to do that, instead preferring to operate at his own best efficiency.

      Melo, on the other hand, always does what max players think they’re supposed to do, and he takes more bad shots. I’m not saying he’s right, I’m saying that factors into how I look at those efficiency numbers, which is why I can’t buy the idea that Love is on another level.

    53. Nick C.

      How much of Kevin Love’s lesser usage is related to him being a PF rather than a wing player who handles the ball? Dirk, for example peaked at 30.3. Garnett was above 28 once @29.6. Amare was at 30.9 in his first season with the Knicks, which was his only time over 30. So it may be less Kevin love is a stat padding wuss and more a function of position.

    54. Kevin Udwary

      Melo, on the other hand, always does what max players think they’re supposed to do, and he takes more bad shots. I’m not saying he’s right, I’m saying that factors into how I look at those efficiency numbers, which is why I can’t buy the idea that Love is on another level.

      So you’re saying Love can’t be elite because he doesn’t take bad shots? Huh?

    55. thenoblefacehumper

      Most great players on bad teams increase their usage to increase their team’s chances of success. But Kevin Love has always been pretty cool with not doing that. He’s been totally fine chilling at 28.7 and 28.8, even when he’s on a 26 win team and his best teammate is Luke Ridnour. I’m sorry, but that’s too low, and that’s why the “but he never made the playoffs” argument exists.

      Love has managed to score at a very high volume just taking the shots he already takes. What would Love have to do to convince you he’s markedly better than Melo? He already scores at a similar volume with much better efficiency. Basically you’re saying Melo is better because he’s more willing to take low percentage shots.

    56. Kevin Udwary

      I think a lot of the disconnect in this debate has to do with the term “better”. Is Love better than Melo? A lot of us look at the production of both players and say, yeah, Love is a more productive player, therefor he is better. Others look at the skill level of the two and say, obviously Melo is the more versatile and talented scorer, therefor he is better. I, personally, would take production over talent every time.

    57. lavor postell

      So you’re saying Love can’t be elite because he doesn’t take bad shots? Huh?

      No.

      A lot of possessions in the NBA don’t end up with high efficiency looks. As the best player on a Minnesota team without many guys that can consistently generate their own shots at an acceptable percentage when the clock is winding down, I believe Hubert was saying that Love should carry more of that burden.

      Melo does that too much and often takes low efficiency shots, when passing to a teammate was a better option. Love will passes up too many lower efficiency shots in favor of passing the ball to Rubio or Brewer to create a shot with the clock winding down when the team would have been better served with him taking the shot. This can even make his individual numbers look better at times by upping his AST%.

      Love operating on a lower usage than may be optimal for the team isn’t close to being a main reason behind why they’ve missed the playoffs, but it is a fair criticism of him as the star player on a mediocre team.

      You know Carmelo’s usage went down last year, right?

      You know Melo’s usage was still way above Love’s right? 2012-13 was way above even Melo’s career norms and was partially because he played more minutes alongside players less inclined to shoot than he did this past year when he played a lot more minutes with STAT, Bargs (vomit) and incessant chucker THJ. Those guys basically replaced the minutes played by lower usage players (that did a lot of other positive things on the floor) like Kidd, Brewer, Sheed, Kurt and Kenyon.

      His 2013-14 USG% was a lot closer to his career norms.

    58. Nick C.

      I’ll repeat the usage is probably directly related to ballhandling responsibilities and position. As far as I can tell you have to go back to the Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing era to find big men with a string of seasons with 30+ usage. even then it never seems to top 32. If you want to say that being able to bring the ball upcourt and take your own shot is a positive you won’t get an argument from me. But I don’t really thing the genital size/stat martyr argument that seems to be being proposed really is the only explanation.

    59. DRed

      Right, Lavor, but the argument (I think) is that good players on bad teams need to shoot more. Carmeloo’s usage last season was .7% higher than his career norm, which tells me that Carmelo was totally cool with not increasing his usage to make his team more successful.

    60. Donnie Walsh

      Love’s max salary is $10,000,000 less than Anthony’s. Even if all else was equal (which it’s not), the production per dollar over the next 5 years makes Love a whole lot better– to the point where it really is lunacy to even argue it.

    61. lavor postell

      I’ll repeat the usage is probably directly related to ballhandling responsibilities and position. As far as I can tell you have to go back to the Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing era to find big men with a string of seasons with 30+ usage. even then it never seems to top 32. If you want to say that being able to bring the ball upcourt and take your own shot is a positive you won’t get an argument from me. But I don’t really thing the genital size/stat martyr argument that seems to be being proposed really is the only explanation.

      That’s a good point. I feel the truth is somewhere in between of him being a little lax in terms of taking shots away from the likes of Rubio and Brewer versus like you pointed out him being a PF so not necessarily having the ball in has hands as frequently as some perimeter players.

    62. Kevin Udwary

      Love will passes up too many lower efficiency shots in favor of passing the ball to Rubio or Brewer to create a shot with the clock winding down when the team would have been better served with him taking the shot.

      If there is a choice between taking a low percentage shot, or pass the ball to attempt to get a higher percentage shot, then passing is absolutely the correct play. Are you saying that Love passes up shots when the shot clock is about to expire? Because that’s about the only reason you should settle for low percentage shots.

    63. lavor postell

      Right, Lavor, but the argument (I think) is that good players on bad teams need to shoot more. Carmeloo’s usage last season was .7% higher than his career norm, which tells me that Carmelo was totally cool with not increasing his usage to make his team more successful.

      Also a good point. I think this ties into what Nick C. was talking about in terms of role and position playing a factor in usage.

      In fairness it did seem like Melo was making a concerted effort early in the season to try to get Bargs going in the offense and tried to play solid team ball, but as the season went on his usage increased.

    64. lavor postell

      If there is a choice between taking a low percentage shot, or pass the ball to attempt to get a higher percentage shot, then passing is absolutely the correct play. Are you saying that Love passes up shots when the shot clock is about to expire? Because that’s about the only reason you should settle for low percentage shots.

      Love passing it out to Brewer rather than facing up and taking his man is a bad play. Putting Rubio and Brewern positions with under 8 seconds left on the shot clock 23 feet from the basket where they have to create a shot off the dribble or take a contested jumper isn’t a high percentage play. Love taking a shot in almost any situation from any zone of the floor is a better value shot than Rubio or Brewer, among others on the Timberwolves’ roster last year.

    65. Kevin Udwary

      If you exclude Love’s stats, his team scores with a TS% of 52.1%. So, can Love score on contested midrange jumpers at a TS% over 52.1? Most likely not, therefore passing is not something to criticize him for, unless the shot clock is about to expire. This is the same criticism that Lebron gets for not taking the last shot of the game, and passing to an open teammate instead. It’s the correct play! Stop criticizing players for playing intelligently!

    66. Hubert

      So you’re saying Love can’t be elite because he doesn’t take bad shots? Huh?

      Honestly, for a guy who writes great articles on this site, I’m pretty shocked that’s what you thought I’m trying to say.

      You have two players who, for the most part, have been on poor teams (Melo has had a couple teams that no one Love has ever played with comes close to). Player A on a poor team still operates as he would if he were on a good team, i.e. at peak efficiency. Player B on a poor team plays outside his limits.

      The consequence of Player A’s actions is his teams have never won but his efficiency stats look marvelous. The consequence of Player B’s actions is he has made more team success but his efficiency is not as strong.

      The point that Love lovers love to make is that just give Love better teammates and he’ll win. I don’t disagree with that. But I do think the fact that he plays his game as if he has better teammates helps make his stats appear a lot better than a guy like Melo, who when he has bad teammates does more to take control. Like the Paul Pierce example that started this, throw Melo on the floor with Rondo, KG, Allen, and some other great players, and a good coach, I think his USG goes down and his game improves as well.

      Love already plays like those teammates are there, which makes him look great, but is a factor in why his team’s don’t have a lot of success.

      The discussion, to this point, has simply been A>B, C>D, ergo Love is far better than Melo and there’s no doubt and you’re crazy if you don’t think so. Really I’m just trying to focus on one variable that’s being ignored. I think Love is great, but if he carried those teams to the playoffs he’d have had to take more shots, so how much closer to Melo’s stats would his be? And if Melo was content to space the floor for Felton bricks and Shumpert turnovers, how much better would his stats be? It hasn’t been apples to…

    67. DRed

      In fairness it did seem like Melo was making a concerted effort early in the season to try to get Bargs going in the offense and tried to play solid team ball, but as the season went on his usage increased.

      This is the problem with trying to assign a narrative to a play. Melo passes the ball to a center 18′ from the basket. That center, Andrea Bargnani, takes a shitty shot and misses, because Andrea Bargnani is the fucking worst. Melo is playing team ball. Melo passes the ball to a center 18′ from the basket. That center, Tyson Chandler, hands the ball to Ray Felton who passes the ball back to Carmelo, who takes a shot. Carmelo is now being selfish and playing hero-ball. Melo passes the ball to a center 18′ from the basket. That center, Tyson Chandler, hands the ball to Ray Felton who passes the ball back to Carmelo, who takes a shot. Carmelo is now heroically shouldering the usage burden like a true superstar should.

    68. Kevin Udwary

      I think Love is great, but if he carried those teams to the playoffs he’d have had to take more shots, so how much closer to Melo’s stats would his be?

      What us on the other side of the argument are saying is that taking those bad shots do not help your team win at all. We criticize Melo for taking those shots, rather than criticize Love for not taking them. The only reason you should take bad shots is if the shot clock is expiring, otherwise keep trying for a higher percentage attempt. That makes sense, right? It really seems like you are criticizing Love for playing intelligently. And thanks for the compliment, I’m not trying to be a dick!

    69. Hubert

      This is the same criticism that Lebron gets for not taking the last shot of the game, and passing to an open teammate instead. It’s the correct play! Stop criticizing players for playing intelligently!

      No, it isn’t.

      You can’t tell me that the gulf in USG between Love and other great players on bad teams all comes down to passing to an open teammate for a better shot. It’s not marginal difference. It’s a god damn gulf. And the enormity of it itself implies that his selectivity is making inferior players take bad shots so he doesn’t have to himself. Not all the time, but enough times to make his efficiency stats look a lot better when compared to a guy like Melo.

    70. DRed

      Love already plays like those teammates are there, which makes him look great, but is a factor in why his team’s don’t have a lot of success.

      Except for the bit about him taking shots more often than all but 8 players in the NBA. Kevin Love is, already, a very high usage player. When you factor in his position, he’s one of the highest usage players in the NBA. Kevin Love takes a lot of shots. The PF who take more shots than him are either hybrid 3/4 guys like Lebron and Carmelo or guys who are on good teams (Dirk, Aldridge, Griffin). None of them play for bad teams. So, Kevin Love is the highest usage bad team PF in the NBA. Which you interpret as evidence of him worrying about his efficiency and refusing to shoot. It’s a very weak argument.

    71. lavor postell

      If you exclude Love’s stats, his team scores with a TS% of 52.1%. So, can Love score on contested midrange jumpers at a TS% over 52.1? Most likely not, therefore passing is not something to criticize him for, unless the shot clock is about to expire. This is the same criticism that Lebron gets for not taking the last shot of the game, and passing to an open teammate instead. It’s the correct play! Stop criticizing players for playing intelligently!

      Remove Pekovic from the equations what’s the TS%? The vast majority of Love’s assists were to perimeter players.

      Also is every shot Love can generate a contested mid-range jumper? Give me a break. He has a very good post game, he can draw fouls and generate foul shots, he’s a great offensive rebounder so if he gets closer to the hoop there’s an increased chance he can grab a rebound even if he misses.

      Love made 59 percent of his shots inside of 8 feet last year, and when he missed, the Wolves grabbed an offensive rebound a whopping 44 percent of the time. (The league’s offensive rebounding rate in this area is 38 percent.) For every 100 close-range shots that Kevin Love attempted in the 2013-14 season, 77 resulted in either a made basket or a fresh chance for his team. His missed shots were like blood transfusions for the Wolves offense.

      http://grantland.com/the-triangle/a-move-to-cleveland-and-a-return-to-the-block-for-kevin-love/

    72. Hubert

      It really seems like you are criticizing Love for playing intelligently.

      No, I’m asking you step outside the box for a second and ask if playing intelligently is the same when you’re a great player on a bad team as it is when you’re a great player on a good team.

      There has to be an inflection point somewhere where it changes. I think Love is behind it and Melo is in front of it.

    73. DRed

      Look at it like this, Hubert. Of the 7 guys with a higher USG% than Love last year, only 2 of them played for non-playoff teams (Boogie and Melo). You claim that intelligent players on a bad team should shoot a lot. Fine. Two guys in the NBA who were on bad teams shot more than Kevin Love. That’s it. By your definition, doesn’t that mean he’s playing intelligently? Or were there only 2 intelligent good players in the NBA who were on bad teams (and one of them was boogie cousins??)?

    74. Kevin Udwary

      Also is every shot Love can generate a contested mid-range jumper? Give me a break. He has a very good post game, he can draw fouls and generate foul shots, he’s a great offensive rebounder so if he gets closer to the hoop there’s an increased chance he can grab a rebound even if he misses.

      But those are the shots he IS taking. And that’s why he is a high efficiency scorer. Are we saying that he is passing up high efficiency shots, now? I’m afraid that I’m completely lost in this argument…

    75. Kevin Udwary

      The offensive rebounding argument is a good one, though. Wouldn’t you rather Love pass to a perimeter player to force up a shot late in the shot clock, then crash the boards for an offensive rebound, rather than force a shot up himself, away from the basket? Another reason that passing is the right play.

    76. Hubert

      Except for the bit about him taking shots more often than all but 8 players in the NBA. Kevin Love is, already, a very high usage player. When you factor in his position, he’s one of the highest usage players in the NBA. Kevin Love takes a lot of shots. The PF who take more shots than him are either hybrid 3/4 guys like Lebron and Carmelo or guys who are on good teams (Dirk, Aldridge, Griffin). None of them play for bad teams. So, Kevin Love is the highest usage bad team PF in the NBA. Which you interpret as evidence of him worrying about his efficiency and refusing to shoot. It’s a very weak argument.

      It’s only weak because you’re fixated on the idea that if he had the 8th highest USG that it means he took enough shots. It doesn’t. As I said earlier, I think the more relevant comp is to other great players on bad teams throughout recent years, of which I provided many examples. Every one of those guys* I listed were number 1 in the league for that respective year. So being 8th, when recent history suggests you should be first (or pretty close to it) doesn’t sway me.

      *Except Pierce, who was 8th & 10th, but at a much higher level (these were the years of Kobe, Iverson, McGrady, Arenas, Vince Carter, putting up insane USG).

    77. Kevin Udwary

      Ok, I think I’m understanding your argument better, Hubert. You’re saying that on a bad team your best scorer should be taking more shots. That’s fine. But I think the criticism should come down the team for not getting your best scorer in a position to score enough. Minnesota should have worked harder at getting Love the ball in his sweet spots, while the Knicks were completely on the other side of the spectrum with iso-Melo everytime down the floor. I don’t think we should criticize the player so much for that, though, unless they are breaking plays to get their shots, or passing up high percentage opportunities.

    78. the tyson zone

      Long time reader and first time poster. Thanks for letting me chime in. Has anyone here ever been the best player on his team in any kind of basketball league or even in a pickup game in the park? If you have, you know that sometimes passing to certain teammates if you have a decent scoring opportunity is NOT the correct play as Kevin says. When Ray Felton or Iman Shumpert (last year) have proven that when they get the ball (when open), they’re going to hesitate, wait for the defense to recover, then pass Melo the ball back almost apologetically, it is Melo’s responsibility to take advantage of more scoring opportunities in order to help his team win. Swinging the ball to the weak side only to see stagnation and helplessness is not a winning play just because you are “sharing the ball.”

      However, the reason that Kevin Love doesn’t take these shots is a function of his position more than anything, not because he values his efficiency more than winning. It is easier for a player who can handle the ball like Melo to create his own shot, making it more tempting to do so when he gets the ball at the 3 point line or elbow. If Love gets the ball on the perimeter and is covered, he doesn’t have the ability to do much more than pass it to a teammate. Short of demanding the ball in the post every play, which is not how most offenses run these days, he is limited in how aggressive he can be. If he had ball handling abilities, I’ll bet he would take more off the dribble shots, and like Melo, him doing that is sometimes better than the alternative of passing to a more open teammate who can’t do much with the ball.

    79. Hubert

      Also is every shot Love can generate a contested mid-range jumper? Give me a break.

      Excuse me, but the idea was put forth that every time Love doesn’t shoot it creates a better shot for an open teammate. And I simply said there are too many passed up shots for that to be true, and that some of them have to be bad shots.

      Anyone saying that his passed up shots creates either all good shots or all bad shots is inventing something. They most likely create a normal distribution of shots, some good, some bad. The more bad teammates you have, the more likely it is you will have a healthy amount of bad shots to go with the good shots.

    80. Hubert

      Love has managed to score at a very high volume just taking the shots he already takes. He already scores at a similar volume with much better efficiency. Basically you’re saying Melo is better because he’s more willing to take low percentage shots.

      No, that’s not remotely close to my point, and I think I’ve made my position pretty clear.

      What would Love have to do to convince you he’s markedly better than Melo?

      I think there is level of usage that a great player on a bad team has to be at in order for that bad team to win the 44-48 games usually necessary to make the playoffs. Love consistently operates well below that level, which I believe is a factor in his lack of team success. In order for me to think he is clearly and demonstrably better than Carmelo Anthony, I would like to seem him operate closer to that USG level and still maintain his vast superiority in efficiency.

    81. Kevin Udwary

      Excuse me, but the idea was put forth that every time Love doesn’t shoot it creates a better shot for an open teammate.

      But that doesn’t even have to be true, rather it is passing up a low percentage play for the OPPORTUNITY of a higher percentage shot. That higher percentage shot may never come, but it is still the right play.

      I’m going to try a metaphor here to demonstrate my point, but will probably only confuse matters more. Let’s say you are a poker player. You are starting with a set amount of money, which limits the number of hands you play. A good player will pass up low percentage play and keep their limited funds to play in the hands for which they have a higher percentage of wining. Maybe you never get a good hand before your money runs out. Thems the breaks, but playing the percentages will work out in the end if you play a statistically significant number of times.

    82. DRed

      Every one of those guys* I listed were number 1 in the league for that respective year.

      So, uh, Carmelo last year?

      Aside from Paul Pierce, who ranked 8th and 10th in the league in usage (just like Kevin Love in his last two full seasons!), you gave us 3 examples. From that, you deduced that “Most great players on bad teams increase their usage to increase their team’s chances of success.” Your examples were Lebron, who played for a team so terrible it went to the NBA finals, Kobe, and D Wade. Every one of those guys is a ball handling wing player. Everyone one of those guys has played a lot longer than 5 seasons, and has played with a number of other good offensive players. Kevin Love might be a guy who has a ‘natural’ usage rate of 24% playing on a team with an average number of other good offensive players. He may actually be sacrificing his efficiency for the good of the team. We don’t know, because he’s never played for a good team.

    83. lavor postell

      Excuse me, but the idea was put forth that every time Love doesn’t shoot it creates a better shot for an open teammate. And I simply said there are too many passed up shots for that to be true, and that some of them have to be bad shots.

      That was in response to Kevin, not to anything you were saying.

      But those are the shots he IS taking. And that’s why he is a high efficiency scorer. Are we saying that he is passing up high efficiency shots, now? I’m afraid that I’m completely lost in this argument…

      Ok. Let’s say Love has the ball 16 feet from the hoop with 7 or less seconds left. In that situation unless he’s getting harassed by a double team and can get Kevin Martin a clean perimeter look, or feed Pekovic the ball down low (happened rarely) the best option is Love taking a less than optimal efficiency shot. Instead many times when I watched (EYE TEST ALERT) Minnesota he would bail out in these instances and put the onus on a lesser offensive player to create a shot for the offense. I watched a lot of Minnesota games, because my girlfriend at the time was a big Wolves fan (fucking weird).

      Another thing is that usage only tells part of the story. 65.7% of Love’s field goals this year were assisted, many of them being of the catch and shoot variety. That simply wasn’t an option for a player like Melo (38.6% assisted) who not only played with as bad of a perimeter shooting team as the Wolves for the first 5 months of the season, but also played with a point guard incapable of creating quality looks for him like Rubio can for Love. Sure some of this is because of Melo’s tendency to ball stop rather than making quick decisions, but a large part of it was also playing with the worst set of playmaking guards in the league.

    84. Hubert

      I’ll repeat the usage is probably directly related to ballhandling responsibilities and position. As far as I can tell you have to go back to the Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing era to find big men with a string of seasons with 30+ usage. even then it never seems to top 32. If you want to say that being able to bring the ball upcourt and take your own shot is a positive you won’t get an argument from me. But I don’t really thing the genital size/stat martyr argument that seems to be being proposed really is the only explanation.

      I think this is a fair point, Nick C, but a couple of things:

      The guys you are talking about played on good teams, mostly (Ewing had some pretty awful ones, obviusly, and his USG went up accordingly in 90 & 91).

      Also, isn’t Love closer to the position that Melo & LeBron play than the position Ewing and Hakeem played?

    85. Hubert

      You’re saying that on a bad team your best scorer should be taking more shots.

      Not completely.

      I’m saying there are two schools of thought. One is the quote above. One is the poker analogy you described in 91. I’m not saying either one is better. I’m saying Melo and Love clearly belong to the different schools. And I’m saying there is a trade off to being in each school when you’re on a bad team. By always making what would be the right play in optimal conditions when under suboptimal conditions, Love’s efficiency stats look great but his team success has been poor.

      Carmelo Anthony computes things differently under suboptimal conditions. Maybe he knows the right play is to pass, but he also knows if he does either JR is going to shoot or the ball might end up in Felton or Bargnani’s hands, and both of those things are worse options than him taking a suboptimal shot. So he uses the possession for himself. This affects his efficiency, BUT it actually increases his team’s success.

      I’m basically saying that when comparing Love to Melo, we should a) recognize that they mostly play on crappy teams, b) understand that the right play on a good team isn’t always the right play on a terrible team, and c) factor in the poison that they choose when comparing their numbers and determining who is better.

      So far, Love lovers have shot down every attempt for anyone to bring up his lack of team success, citing only his efficiency numbers and claiming that if he only had better teammates there would be no lack of success. But that’s the poison he chose and it helps him maintain his efficiency. And they don’t let any Melo defender have the same argument, i.e. that if Melo had better teammates he would take less bad shots and his efficiency numbers would look better.

      It’s a trade off, and I believe that context needs to be applied to this discussion. That’s pretty much my point. You can’t say we have to ignore Love’s lack of team success, it’s all because he has bad teammates; and say we have to focus on Melo’s inferior efficiency, that has nothing to do with the fact that he has terrible teammates.

    86. ptmilo

      I agree that Carmelo’s usage likely has incremental value beyond a naively calculated efficiency advantage using the raw numbers. If you just took Carmelo’s adjusted (for FTA) FGA/100poss edge of Love last year (3.5) and replace it with the non-Carmelo Knick average, you get a trivial negative delta of around 0.1 points per game from Melo shooting at Love’s usage. So you need to argue as some have here that the marginal delta is much higher, because the opportunity cost (the team’s alternative ppp for those marginal 3.5 FGA is much, much lower). There is some evidence for that and some against it. Last year, Carmelo was unusually efficient in the last 3 seconds of the shot clock, for example, with a 49.3% EFG. Likewise, the Knicks’ TS% when Carmelo played versus when he didn’t was higher than you would suspect just from his own high TS%. On the other hand, these numbers don’t hold as well up over time. Carmelo’s teams have not on balance been better than average late in the shot clock or, and Melo himself has not shot more efficiently in the last 3 seconds than the Knick team average since he arrived here.

      I focus on the late-in-the-shot clock because these are clearly that fulcrum shots that can plummet a team’s TS% relative to what you’d need to make these difference between Love and Melo’s usage matter. An alternative argument, that Melo’s overall 10% usage edge has a material effect on team TS% beyond the naive calculation is much harder to argue. The difference you’d want to see simply don’t show up in the TS% numbers for Melo’s teams over his career in the on/off or the healthy/injured numbers. When Melo has not on been the floor, the TS% of his teammates does not do what this argument assumes it would do without the extra benefit of this elevated usage. Even if you believe in some measure of extra usage benefit (and I do), I don’t there’s an argument that it matters very much for the Melo Love debate.

    87. Owen

      “My main issue in this argument, though, is the point that Owen & Jowles are making, i.e. we will see how much better Love is than Melo when the Cavs win 60+ games and eventually a title at some point.”

      Hubert – I don’t think either of us actually are making an argument for Love’s superiority on those grounds. I think we just believe that landing on the Cavs will be as much a windfall for his reputation as being at the mercy of the wrath of Kahn has been a disaster the last five years (jonny flynn anyone?). You can’t win in the NBA without good teammates.

      I also don’t really understand your argument.

      All i know is that if you look up and down at the numbers for Melo and say, Kobe, you’ll see that the norm for high usage players, across many years, is incredible consistency. Kobe’s TS% has stayed within a range from 54.4% to 58% his entire career with his highest efficiency numbers coming on the worst team he has played for (Smush Parker anyone?) Melo has been in a range from 52.5 to 56% his entire career.

      These guys are what they are and outside the positive and negative effects of aging and injuries, and adjusted for pace, they don’t seem to change that much.

      Which seems crazy in a way, since there are clear differences. Melo is taking a lot more threes for instance.

      But there does seem to be some sort of quanta for each player that they hover around no matter the circumstances.

      I have never really seen much evidence that it matters at all who you are playing with for most of these guys.

    88. Nick C.

      @ 94 Hubert I think you are right Love offensively is closer to Melo/Lebron style than Shaq/Ewing/Hakeem. How much of that is that the game has changed, or at least the way offenses are run is open to debate.

      I guess we could go back and forth with a lot of this. “Melo has a higher% of shots <8 seconds on the shot clock." "That's because he dawdles most of it away." It's all in good fun and hopefully you see things a bit differently than if you only were exposed to your own point of view.

    89. DRed

      I’m basically saying that when comparing Love to Melo, we should a) recognize that they mostly play on crappy teams, b) understand that the right play on a good team isn’t always the right play on a terrible team, and c) factor in the poison that they choose when comparing their numbers and determining who is better.

      Point A is inaccurate. Melo has consistently played on much better teams than Kevin Love. Love has spent one year on a team that could be described as crappy or better. These teams have been so bad because, aside from Kevin Love, they have been made up of terrible basketball players. Melo has spent most of his career in the company of other good players.

      Point B seems to be an unsubstantiated assumption, and in any event, Melo has never played for a terrible team.

      Point C again assumes that Melo has been on bad teams most of his career, which isn’t true. The biggest problem with Melo is that for much of his career he’s been an extremely high usage player who has scored at a slightly above average efficiency while playing on good teams. A good team doesn’t really benefit from having a small forward with a 53% TS.

      The last two seasons he’s played for a very good team and an authentically crappy team. His scoring efficiency was essentially the same between the two seasons while his usage fell during the season he was on the crappy team. If Melo is the player you claim he was, we would have seen his usage increase and his efficiency fall last season as he shouldered the increased burden that came his way as the only star on a crappy team.

    90. nicos

      The offensive rebounding argument is a good one, though. Wouldn’t you rather Love pass to a perimeter player to force up a shot late in the shot clock, then crash the boards for an offensive rebound, rather than force a shot up himself, away from the basket? Another reason that passing is the right play.

      Love assists!

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