Carmelo Anthony: A (Stevie) Franchise Player with No Super in His Star

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Carmelo Anthony: A (Stevie) Franchise Player with No Super in His Star
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

From the triple-threat position, out to about 18 feet, isolated in one-on-one man coverage, Carmelo Anthony is one of the deadliest scorers I have ever seen touch a basketball.  Anthony's mid-range game—his greatest strength—ranks up there with some of the best we’ve seen.

He isn't the best shooter—certainly no Reggie Miller—but the fact he can consistently hit the jumper in your face, blow by you off the dribble, or flat-out bully the hell out of you right to the rim makes him one of the game's toughest assignments.

With all that said, I'm no fan of Carmelo Anthony.

The guy plays defense like a "walker" from "The Walking Dead"—he sees you and attempts to get you, but unless your ankle is busted, he's no real danger.  Offensively, in a half-court set, his style of play never fails to disappoint in creating the four-guys-standing-around-watching-one-guy-with-the-ball situation.

Such a scenario is okay every so often, especially late in the fourth quarter, or if the guy is named Michael Jordan or Shaquille O'Neal; otherwise, it usually doesn't work out too well.  After all, basketball is a team game.

Given Anthony's shortcomings and style of play, it should come as no surprise he has seen the second round of the playoffs only once in eight seasons.  Once!  Anthony-led teams are a combined 16-34 in the playoffs, including a broom loss to the Boston Celtics last season.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Kobe Bryant shows love to Carmelo Anthony after the Lakers eliminate the Nuggets in 2009.

What is crazy is 10 of those 16 wins came in his lone serious playoff run with the Denver Nuggets in 2009.  Anthony was a monster in the postseason that year, averaging 27.2 points on 45 percent shooting, grabbing 5.8 rebounds and dishing 4.1 assists. 

In typical inefficient superstar fashion, facing elimination, Anthony shot just 22-of-69 (32 percent) over the last four games of the conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers (the Lakers won three of the four games decidedly and closed out the series).

Remove that one significant playoff run in 2009, and Anthony-led teams are just 6-28 in the playoffs.

Nice.  Way to go, New York Knicks.  This is the guy you traded your whole team for after he signed a three-year, $65-million extension?

Oh, my bad, that's right...‘Melo gets buckets!

Of course, the Knicks with Ray Felton & Co. were 28-26 (.519) before the deal and have gone 26-32 (.448) since.  Meanwhile, the Nuggets went from 29-21 (.580) with Anthony to 39-28 (.582) without—not bad considering the competitive division Denver plays in and the inexperience (Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chander, Timofey Mozgov) they received in return for a "superstar."

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This all for a guy who is the eighth highest paid player in the NBA this season?

I remember when the Knicks dealt for Anthony.  I was so pissed off about it that I posted my feelings about it on Facebook and waited to grill anyone who disagreed.

"He's a top-10 player," is what I mostly heard.  That and, "he won a national championship at Syracuse."

Okay, I thought.  Just wait and see.  After all, Denver wasn't the least bit worried about losing him, but yet New York was sure it was receiving its second dose of Patrick Ewing-like star power.

62 games later, I can't help but wonder if Knicks fans are still as enthusiastic as they were when they traded for Anthony.  $18.5 million this year for a 12-14 record (in games he played)? 

In a division that features the rebuilding New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors, a Celtics squad in hospice and a young and talented, but mostly raw Philadelphia 76ers bunch?

This is a top-10 player?  At what point does the mind wander into the land of logic and start asking some serious questions?  Is he even a top-10 forward?

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Is he better than LeBron James?

(Laughter)

Kevin Durant?

(More Laughter)

Dirk Nowitzki?

(Come on, quit being silly)

Paul Pierce?

(No)

Would you rather have Rudy Gay?

(Probably)

Kevin Love?

(I think so)

Andre Iguodala?

(Eh)

How about Danny Granger, Luol Deng, or Gerald Wallace?

If you're one of those who feel Anthony is better than any of these guys, ask yourself how much better.  When you factor in leadership, locker room presence, defense, hustle, intangibles, age, health and money, it's by inches, not feet, not yards and certainly not light years.

Rudy Gay beats the Miami Heat at the buzzer.

This season, Anthony does not even rank in the top 20 in any statistical category.  He's averaging 21.4 points per game on 25.3 shots per game (field goal and free throw attempts).  He ranks 39th in the league in PER (19.1) among all players with as many minutes played.

If you want to say it's because he's hurt or whatever, that's fine, because the truth is Anthony has not been 100 percent healthy this season.  However, if you take a closer look at some of his historical stats, you might be inclined to put all health-related excuses to rest.

Among all players who averaged at least 34 minutes per game over the past five seasons:

  • Only LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade have a higher usage rate (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor).  In other words, Anthony has had superstar-level opportunity.
  • 13 players, including Al Jefferson and Chris Bosh, have a higher PER (20.9).
  • 36 players, including Tayshaun Prince and Rashard Lewis, have a higher offensive rating (an estimate of points produced per 100 possessions).
  • 21 players, including David West and Gerald Wallace, have more win shares (an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player).

Yes, Anthony has scored a ridiculous amount of points and only four guys have a better scoring average during this period.  But these numbers were accumulated due to that superstar-level opportunity.  Give Deng 25 chances to score each game, and he'll be in the top five in scoring. 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Only two players in the last five years, James and Bryant, have averaged more field goal attempts per game than Anthony.

Bryant has rings.  James has reached the NBA Finals twice.  Dwyane Wade has one ring and played for another.  Dirk Nowitzki has a ring.  Durant?  His team Oklahoma City Thunder might win it all this year.

Meanwhile, where’s Anthony?

I'll tell you.  He's with Joe Johnson, Monta Ellis and Kevin Martin.  He's on that level of superstar.

Quit kidding yourselves, Knicks fans... this is a Steve Francis redux.

Big name.  Big hype.  Big rep.  Big scorer.

Big nothing where it matters most.

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