In his prime years, Carmelo has been consistently ranked in the second tier of NBA players, near the top. He was voted to the All-NBA Third Team four times in the last seven years, which places him as a top-15 player in voters' minds.
It is clear that Carmelo has cemented his celebrity status with the move to New York City. However, should he be considered one of the more valuable NBA players?
Using objective, advanced statistics—as opposed to flash and celebrity—exposes some surprising aspects of Carmelo's performance. Here are four comparisons that stand out from the rest and the implications made by the statistics.
Take these with a small grain of salt, as we all know excuses can be made.
Carmelo gets his biggest praise for his shooting abilities. While many people acknowledge that he is somewhat of a selfish player and does not put in effort on defense, it is almost unquestioned that he can shoot the ball.
Yet in the 2011-12 season, Carmelo's true shooting percentage of 52 percent was slightly below the NBA average and put him at No. 196 in the league. His effective field goal percentage—an alternate metric for shooting efficiency—was even worse at 46 percent. That metric places him at No. 283 in NBA and well below the league average.
For comparison, Bismack Biyombo and J.R. Smith—both of whom are heavily criticized for their shooting—had higher effective field goal percentages. Russell Westbrook—often maligned for shooting too much—had a better true shooting percentage.
At 6'8'' and 230 pounds, Carmelo Anthony is a big man for a small forward. He has pulled down some impressive rebounds on a few occasions. His rebounding in general has been defended and praised by many.
Nevertheless, Anthony's total rebounding percentage—an advanced metric for evaluating a player's ability to grab rebounds when they are available—is shockingly poor.
At 10.6 percent, Anthony is ranked No. 199 in the NBA. This places him well behind teammates Tyson Chandler, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, Amare Stoudemire, Renaldo Balkman, Jared Jeffries and Dan Gadzuric. It also places him slightly ahead of former teammate and shooting guard Landry Fields.
One of the most all-encompassing statistics is player efficiency rating (PER). PER measures a players overall per-minute productivity. Since it is based on production and not the efficiency of that production, it greatly favors players who touch the ball a lot on offense. It should really be called player production rating, but the name is what it is.
It is surprising but true that Carmelo Anthony is not in the top 30 in the NBA in productivity. He is tied with James Harden and Josh Smith for 31st. Some of players who were well ahead of him last season included DeMarcus Cousins, Kenneth Faried and rookie Kyrie Irving.
One of the most interesting advanced metrics for basketball players is win shares. Win shares determine to what extent a player's actions and the results of those actions helped his team win.
For the 2011-12 NBA season, Carmelo Anthony ranked No. 57 in the league with 0.16 win shares per 48 minutes. His total for the season of 6.2 win shares accounts for an average of two wins. Thus the Knicks would have an expectation to win two less games total in an average season without Carmelo.
For comparison, teammate Tyson Chandler racked up 0.22 win shares per 48 minutes. Perhaps more intriguing, Steve Novak—the Knicks' backup small forward—accomplished 0.18 win shares per 48 minutes.
At the end of the day, opinions about Carmelo will continue to be polarized for the foreseeable future. Excuses can always be made in the face of statistics, and fans have the right to interpret or ignore statistics about their favorite players.
For their part alone, the statistics are quite clear.