“If people are having talks and I’m not in the conversation as a top-five player in this league, then they shouldn’t be talking about it.”
— Carmelo Anthony in an interview with CBS.com's Ken Berger while Anthony was still in Denver
Make no mistake about it, Carmelo Anthony has reached a precipice in his career. After nine seasons in the NBA, the 2003 third overall pick is all out of excuses for not firmly cementing himself as one of the best three players in the NBA. In two seasons in New York, Melo has led the Knicks, a franchise famished for any type playoff success, to a feeble 1-8 postseason record. Add to that the fact that he essentially forced the Knicks to part with a small king's ransom to acquire him after vacillating for about five months on whether he would stay in Denver, then all but orchestrated the firing of Mike D'Antoni, and the criticism of ‘Melo becomes both ineveitable and warranted.
In 2003, there was 23-year-old going and around and telling everyone how Cleveland shouldn't take a flier on the local high school child star from Akron. Instead, they should draft the safer and more accomplished collegiate player who had just won a national title at Syracuse and had a ready-made NBA game. Yeah, that imbecile was yours truly. It wasn't an indictment on LeBron James as much it was more of glowing endorsement of Anthony. He proved he could play for a hard ass at 'Cuse (Jim Boeheim); he had a mid-range, back to the basket, and face-up game; he could rebound, get to the rim and — when willing — was a solid defender; he averaged a double-double (22 pts and 10 rebs) in the Big East (which at the time actually meant something), and hit just over 70 percent from the charity stripe (I have since apologized to all parties less LeBron. Sorry, Mr. James).
Now if you really think about it, how much of Melo's game has really changed? Not much, and that’s exactly the problem. If you look at the numbers and pair him next to his associated peers — specifically in terms of WIN Shares and PER — ‘Melo hasn't backed up his claim that he’s in that exalted top five.
Yes, Anthony showed up to London 12 pounds lighter. Yes, he looked like the go-to-guy when team USA needs to the offense going, and hopefully he's realized that LeBron — a player with whom he will be fairly or unfairly throughout his entire career — has his legacy in a sleeper hold as the franchise savior in New York. LeBron's WIN share average over nine seasons is 16.6. Dirk, who plays a similar type of offensive position as Melo, has it at 12.2 over his first 9 seasons. Kevin Durant, through five seasons, 10.1. Melo's average season WS through nine seasons? 8.7. That's doesn't quite put him in top five territory now does it?
In ranking his PER from 2009, a season with no distractions of trade talks and uncertainty, his PER of 22.19 ranked 12th among all players who played over 30 plus minutes a game. His WS total for the same season was 7.9, which didn't even place him in the top twenty in the NBA.
Those simply aren't top five numbers. He's always had talent around him, and played for one of the better coaches in the NBA in Denver. I'm not suggesting Carmelo hasn't had success in the league, he has. He's been to the playoffs in each of his nine seasons, finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, has been a four-time All-NBA third team selection, and a one-time All-NBA second team selection. Still, it's Melo's shortcomings that are now going to put him right in the crosshairs not just to Knick fans, but in how his legacy is told.
He has a 10 percent TO (turnover rate) that accompanies a 31 percent USG, which is less than ideal for guy who dominates the ball as much as he does. He pouts when he doesn’t get his shot. The ball stops even off one pass when it hits his hands in the half court. He consistently fails to kick to the open man for a better look when he draws a double team. And of course, there’s his reluctance to consistently play defense. And on Broadway, all these peccadillos are now more visible then ever.
We've seen ‘Melo the scorer, and to date it hasn't worked. Could it really hurt to become more of a facilitator?
Listen, I could be nit picking. Carmelo Anthony has the most complete offensive game in the NBA and is undoubtedly a "professional scorer." However, maybe it's time for him to look to a rival who plays 217 miles north to model the next act of his career after. When Paul Pierce began to ascend in the league he was given the nickname "The Truth" because of his ability to put the ball in the back of the net from just about anywhere on the court.1 However, as Pierce has grown longer in the tooth, it's been his ability to facilitate the offense that has kept him as one of the top 25 players in the league. We've seen ‘Melo the scorer, and to date it hasn't worked. Could it really hurt to become more of a facilitator?
Anthony got what he wanted — the bright lights of New York, another superstar (who unfortunately plays the same position has he does), one of the best defensive big men in the game, and bon voyage to Jeremy Lin, with whom he had as much chemistry on the court as the Housewives of Orange County do at a Christmas party.
It's Melo's time. His time to do what James did in Boston in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals. His time to tear through the league on a personal vendetta like Derrick Rose did in 2010. If Melo wants to be mentioned alongside James, Durant, Kobe, Dirk, and Wade, he has to personify a superstar on the court, not just because of his name.
1 Carmelo Anthony's career PER and WS per year (9.53) mirror those of Pierce more than any other of his counterparts.
Fan Hub Action
Jeanne-Marie Jansen Lowell May 23rd
Greatest relief pitcher EVER! Someday we can all tell our grandchildren we got to see him pitch. A true legend!
Charlie Lobosco May 23rd
Ask Craig; I’ll say it again; not the best relief pitcher ever; the best MLB player ever. Yes, that includes everyone.
Jim Lowell May 23rd
Great tribute to a great player, a great Yankee, and a great man.Thank you!
Frank Lowell May 23rd
Great job, Ryan! As a life-long Yankee hater since the 1950’s in the closing days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I can only sit back and…
Tiffany Riddle May 23rd
Love the article, and I completely agree!
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
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