How Can Carmelo Anthony Possibly be Inefficient?

We are all well aware of the colloquialism “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Beauty is subjective.   We can certainly develop a general consensus of what is beautiful, but we cannot remove the human element of subjectivity.  I attended college in Indiana for two years and being from Colorado I was quite unimpressed with the features of the Indiana landscape, there was a friend of mine who was determined to convince me that a flat horizon was prettier than a jagged one.  Truthfully, there is beauty in both the mountains as well in the distant horizon.  Was one of us right, or more right than the other?  That is a question that has no answer.

Some of the world’s great thinkers have tried to determine a scientific or mathematic formula to define physical beauty.  Even if one day a formula is developed that can prove who is beautiful and who does not make the cut people will continue to debate the physical qualities of those around us.  For every Stanley Hudson, there is a Sir Mix-A-Lot.

When you apply statistics and formulas to something a subjective characteristic, there is always room for dissent.  That is the crux of the stats versus scouting discussion.  While some believe numbers never lie others will never accept a string of data to contradict what their hearts and eyes tell them, even if it is corrupted by alcohol.

Beauty may be fun to talk about and more fun to ogle, but this is a blog about basketball.  Unlike with beauty, statistics and formulas can paint a very comprehensive picture of what a player can or cannot do.  The statistics tell us that Carmelo Anthony is not an efficient scorer.  While his 28.2 points per game seem to suggest he is an elite scorer, numerous other stats decry that assertion as preposterous.  Whether it is his pedestrian 45.8% shooting, his mediocre 54.6% true shooting percentage, or his league average 1.07 points per possession we have ample evidence that Carmelo is inefficient and when we subjectively look at what he does we are misled in thinking he is an immensely talented and versatile scoring machine.

This has troubled me greatly.  I believe in the statistics.  I know that efficiency is not a subjective matter, but a clear cut numeric certainty.  I was one of the first people to decry Melo’s lack of efficiency.

On the other hand, I have seen every professional game Carmelo Anthony has played.  The man was put on earth to make buckets.  He is big, strong, quick, he can shoot off a jab step, he can shoot off the dribble, he can drive with either hand, even though he rarely finishes with his left, he does not reflect the meager abilities of the volume scorer some are making him out to be.  My eyes see all he can do and I cannot believe that Carmelo Anthony is significantly worse offensively than the other more statically efficient superstars in the league.

There has to be a reason for this discrepancy between what we can clearly see Melo do year after year and what the science of basketball proclaims as the truth. There must be some reason why Carmelo’s obvious talent is not translated into the numbers that are being used to define him.  I have said it before and will say it again, Carmelo is a flawed player, but for him to be relegated to second class status at what he does best, score, vexed me.

I did have an educated guess as to how we could reconcile the empirical and the quantitative so I started watching Carmelo shoot over and over in games from last season.  The answer soon became clear and I needed to watch film of some of the other elite players in the league to prove my hypothesis.

Thanks to the power of Synergy Sports Technology I charted the shots taken by Carmelo, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and everyone’s favorite efficient wing Kevin Martin.  I selected ten games, two playoff games, three post all-star break games and five pre all-star break games.  These games were somewhat selected at random although I did my best to get an even split between home and away games and I also did my best to make sure the player’s field goal percentage over those ten games was approximately equal to his field goal percentage for the season to avoid swaying the data towards too many hot or cold shooting nights so there was a little bit of cherry picking a game that met those requirements.

Every shot was listed as an open shot, a contested shot, a transition layup or dunk or a end of quarter desperation heave, which were basically discounted from the data.  In order for a shot to be contested the defender had to be within an arm’s length of the shooter when he entered his shooting motion.  If there was separation, even if the shooter was off balance the shot was charted as an open attempt so not every open shot was as easy as some contested shots.  The results are very interesting.

Our first graphical representation of the hours I spent watching film displays the percentage of open shots each of the six players attempted.

The number that jumps off the grid there is Kevin Martin’s 69.2%.  Martin struggled with injuries last season and dealt with a change of scenery, however, he continues to do the same thing regardless of where he is playing he moves without the ball like a ghost, he has a great pump fake and after using it always dribbles towards the basket into an open area and rarely over penetrates changing an open shot to a challenged one.  However, as we see later on, he needs open shots in order to be effective.

Wade and LeBron are in a tier of their own in the mid 50’s.  They have the added pressure of being a primary ball handler and shot creator for other players so they carry additional burdens that do not weigh on Martin.

It is not surprising to me that the two most explosive players, LeBron and Wade, attempted more open shots than everyone but Martin.  LeBron has the strength of a freight train and the quickness of a bullet train and he uses those talents to get to the rim, plus the threat of him driving forces defenders to play an extra half a step off of him allowing James to take open jumpers.  Wade is not as big and strong as LeBron, but is quick and unpredictable.  He surprises defenders by doing the unexpected.  Like LeBron he can take an open jumper almost at will as defenders dare him to shoot from 20 feet where he is less effective rather than closer to the rim.

Kobe and Durant are in the third tier with nearly identical percentages.  These two work the perimeter and do not have the same ability to penetrate as LeBron and Wade do and they are just as comfortable attempting a wide open jumper as they are with a hand in their face so it is not surprising to me that a smaller portion of their shots are open.

The player bringing up the rear on this graph is Carmelo with a mere 39.0% of his shots being open looks.  We will get into this a little deeper when we look at the flipside of this chart.

Next we look at the shooting percentage on the open shots these men attempted and I think the results may surprise you.

Carmelo actually converts on the highest percentage of open shots nipping LeBron in a photo finish of a statistical dead heat.  Players are supposed to make their open shots and Carmelo and LeBron both do so.  I expected Carmelo to convert on a high percentage of his open shots, but I did not expect him to rate the highest of our subjects.  I was likewise very surprised to see Durant so low as he is such a great shot maker.  I did not chart locations, but I believe LeBron benefits from the most dunks which help drive his conversion rate no open shots up.  Kevin Martin brings up the tail end of the group with a surprisingly low 50.5%.  While it might seem that was a reflection of Martin’s injury riddled season, I did select a combination of games that put his shooting percentage closer to his career mark of 44.8% than his 2009-10 rate of 41.7% which should have mitigated some of the negative impact of his injuries.

Next we move onto the percentage of shots which were contested and if you are a math wiz you will probably realize that the results on this graph will be the opposite of the results of the percentage of open shots above.

My assumption heading into this exercise was that Carmelo attempted more contested shots than any of the other players and as you can see that was in fact the case.  61.0% of Melo’s shots are contested, the highest percentage of our six hoopsters, however, Kobe and Durant are not far behind both coming in at over 57% of their shots being taken under duress from a defender.

Finally, we look at the conversion rate of each player on their contested efforts.

As expected, these percentages are considerably lower.  I would have guessed Kobe would be at the top with Durant second and those two were both at the top of the group, but Durant actually converted a slightly higher percentage of his contested attempts.  LeBron was not far behind while Melo is in the low 30’s at 31.5%.

It is not a surprise that Wade is so far behind the others posting a 27.7% success rate as he is not the shooter the others are, however seeing Martin’s microscopic 18.2% shows how reliant he is on taking his open shots.  His efficiency is truly driven by his exceptional shot selection as he made the lowest percentage of both his open and contested shots of the six players in the study.

The final piece of the data was transition shots at the rim.  These attempts were not included in the charts above, because I wanted to focus on how each player did in a half court five on five situation.

Transition opportunities are usually the easiest to convert so the more of these attempts help boost efficiency.  The two outliers were Kobe and LeBron.  Kobe only had 0.3 such attempts per game, while LeBron averaged 2.0 attempts per game.  The other four all averaged between 1.1 and 1.4 transition attempts per game.  Those numbers are interesting, but outside Kobe’s lack of opportunities and LeBron’s abundance of chances there is not much to glean from them.

What conclusions can we draw from these numbers?  First of all, I do not see anywhere near the number of articles decrying Wade’s lack of efficiency as have been written about Carmelo despite the fact their numbers are eerily similar.  Wade’s points per possession is only 1.08, very comparable to Carmelo’s 1.06.  Wade is even more reliant on open shots than Carmelo although he is more adept at earning them than Carmelo is.

I believe the data shows Carmelo has the ability to be as efficient a player as anyone in the league.  According to the data, he is an exceptional shooter when open, he simply does not take nearly enough open shots.

The question then is why does Melo take so many contested attempts?  I think there are two reasons.

First of all, players are glorified or vilified based on the mystical ability to create their own shot.  Those that can are regarded as franchise players and clutch scorers, those who cannot are simply role players.  In the eyes of fans and talent evaluators alike the pinnacle of individual prowess in basketball is the ability to take the ball in your own hands and shred the opposition repeatedly for 48 minutes.  Those players are the alpha dogs, the franchise players who can score on anyone in any situation and the desire to achieve that status is engrained into players like Carmelo Anthony from a relatively young age.

The downside of that message is the difficulty of reconciling being the man, with displaying restraint in your shot selection.

When George Karl first arrived in Denver there were several games where Carmelo found himself on the bench in the fourth quarter because Karl was trying to teach him that not every shot is a good shot.  There was a great deal of consternation that Carmelo might get fed up with sitting out during crunch time, however, Karl’s teaching began to slowly immerse itself in Carmelo and the next season Carmelo Anthony shot what was then a career high 48.1%, five points higher than the previous season, and he also bumped his true shooting percentage up from 52.6 to 56.3.

Over the next three seasons Melo would post his best percentages of his career.  However, even then he was not submitting efficiency statistics that you would expect of him.  Now he seems to have taken a step back in his shot selection which is further suppressing his efficiency.

Not only does the coaching staff need to get back to stressing taking good shots, I believe they need to design sets that put him in better situations on the court.  Most of Carmelo’s possessions begin on the right wing, which is obviously where he is most comfortable.  He does not receive the ball in a position to score, he merely gets in position in his favorite spot on the floor so that he can catch the ball and begin the process of looking for his shot.

If you watch Durant he frequently catches the ball as he is sprinting around a screen providing him with an open shooting opportunity as soon as he catches the ball.  The defense is already in a scrambling mode trying to adjust to his aggressive curl off the screen.  With LeBron, when he was in Cleveland, he was frequently bringing the ball up the court, which gave him the entire floor to work with.  He also would make fast aggressive cuts across the court to receive the ball in a position where the defense is struggling to keep up and frequently out of position.  LeBron also received a number of high screens to work off of.

Conversely Carmelo moves at three quarter speed at best to find his way to the right wing where he is faced with attacking a defense that is dug in and tilted towards his side of the floor.  I would love to see more imagination in Denver’s offense that puts Carmelo in a position to get shots that do not rely on him either making a difficult move to get open or attacking the teeth of the defense.   Of course, Melo has to be open to making those changes and I am afraid the right wing is his comfort zone and he does not want to be pushed out of it very often.

In conclusion, the opportunity for Carmelo to become a more efficient scorer is there for the taking.  I think the fact that he settles for so many contested shots does provide the bridge between the beautiful offensive game we see night in and night out and the harsh reality of statistical analysis.

Whether Melo ever becomes more efficient or not, I think there is room for both the subjective admiration of the beauty of Carmelo’s offensive game, while acknowledging his objective shortcomings.  Carmelo may never prove to be able to overcome his score at will alpha dog mindset I believe clouds his decision making and shot selection, however, his skill level is truly that of an elite player and I think it is appropriate to marvel at his abilities at the same time we are frustrated by his willingness to go about his business in an inefficient way.

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  • LT

    Jermey, this was great statostical work and time consuming for sure. Love the statistical models in tis piece adn it does have a influence on how I now view these 6 players.

    Never thought much of Kevin Martin’s game and now the data suggests that he doesn’t make much other than open shots.

    If Melo can evolve as a player eariler in his career, he’s hoping he still has room to grow and learn (if his ego lets him).
    Unfortunately, the Nuggets will never see that growth as he is most likely gone

  • Shareef

    You forgot to add all the trips to the foul line, and the great FT% and the minutes missed by opposing front courts due to foul trouble. And the value drawing double teams has to increasing the amount of open shots for his teammates.

    • Jeremy

      I dropped the ball on free throws and three point shooting, which I intended to mention, but obviously failed to do so. I might have to cook up a second edition to include some comments on those two areas.

  • Dennis

    Good point about the FT’s. My impression of Martin is that in most cases he’s either taking an open shot, or he’s getting to the line. He rarely takes bad shots and he practically never makes them.

    In regards to Anthony, I agree with everything that’s been written in the blog post. Carmelo, right now, is an ineffective player, but I think a new system that’s flexible in getting him open shots would go a long way in “curing” that.

  • k

    Great post jeremy. Very interesting point about wade getting a free pass about being innefecient. I think Carmelo has just as much if not more talent offensivley than the other guys but his team/situation has more to do with his ineffeciency. I can’t stand watching the nuggets walk the ball up the court and then waste a few more seconds while melo is posting his defender up 20 ft from the basket. He has so much talent he can get away with it but like you said he is capable of so much more. I would like to know if the blame goes on melo for just being satisfied with running iso’s or coach karl for running no offensive sets. Think about the lakers and the triangle, utah and pick and roll. You think about the nuggets and you think melo and 3pt shooting. But no actual plan for offense. If melo does leave to go to another team I would like to see these stats again and see if its on melo or the situation.

  • zebulon

    The thing is, Wade is an incredible passer, and his ability and willingness to attack the basket creates tons of open looks for the rest of his team. Wade is also a great defender and above average rebounder for his position, both of which are not true of Carmelo. Carmelo really only has one above average ability – scoring. Everywhere else he is average or below average.

  • Jonathan Tate

    Wade doesn’t catch the same inefficiency flak because the stats say he’s efficient and his career FG%, TS% and eFG% are all 20 percent higher. Also because he’s a much better all-around player and a former Finals MVP, which came courtesy of the Refs, but nevertheless.

    The good news is that he has room to grow in terms of offensive sets. It’d be one thing if he was using as many screens as anybody else and still coming up short on efficiency. But he is vastly underutilized in the most potent offensive set in basketball. If anything, more screens would decrease his reliance on long two-point jumpers. You don’t see many contested 21 foot jumpers off dribble screens.

    However it may be, his offensive game needs to be tweaked. It’s tough to be as efficient as you can be off so many isolation sets. Defenders are just too good. More catching the ball in motion, dribble handoffs, screens, just more variety and unpredictability that will give him higher percentage shots could push his percentages 10 to 20 points higher. I do think however his career high shooting percentages were inflated by so many run-outs and alley-oop dunks. With Billups in tow running a slower pace, Carmelo hasn’t been able to pad his numbers with a bunch of bonus plays.

  • mike

    Nice article. I never agreed with any of the Melo bashing from before. For people who really follow the Nuggets and watch the games know Melo is an elite player. We Nuggets followers see all the non-calls on Melo which you should make an article on too. Don’t forget all the double and triple teams he sees. I bet no one gets double-teamed more than Anthony. All the ESPN and national sports analysts that talk bad about Carmelo’s game definitely do not watch the Nuggets play. IF he got half of all the non-calls he would average 40 points a game.

  • mitch

    Nice job, I’ve always felt this was the case intuitively but you showed it with numbers. FT’s definitely need to be taken into account. Melo game was much better at the beginning of the season when he was getting calls and then tapered off as the foul calls became drastically reduced (Wade gets to the line a ton).

    The real question is whether its the coaching or the player stuck in his ways. For me I’ve never liked Karl’s offense but maybe its the only way he can keep the players.

  • Mr. Sensitive

    Phenomenal research and presentation!

    Melo never learned to how to influence the outcome of a game by playing defense. Mad skills but something’s missing.

  • John E Law

    Unfortunately, this does not take into account the fact that Lebron and Wade get their teammates involved and play defense. Your stats show me that Melo is even further away from those superstars than I even thought before. While people say, “he can score from anywhere” I find Melo’s offensive game to be a bit one dimensional. You know he is going to that right block 85% of the time. He will become easier to defend each year he gets older and slower.

  • http://PSD Chronz

    Big fan of your work man and I can see the logic behind cherry picking a few games that meet your expected results but we can isolate their games in much simpler fashion with a wider sample size that is actually more insightful.
    First issue of business however,
    The statistics youve chosen (% of made shots), this isnt the best measure of efficiency and are obviously going to favor Melo over Durant because Durant takes alot of 3’s why not show us their eFG% in open shot situations? PPP would be most favorable because how often you turn the ball over in creating those looks matters as well. Still I have an alternative method of valuing shot creation and coinciding efficiency.

    To get an idea of the quality of looks I look at their assisted %. Melo has always had the benefit of playing alongside some truly gifted playmakers, his rate of assisted baskets has always been higher than megastars. Despite this advantage has been unable to replicate their success.

    Theres also set shot data, I understand set shots arent always open but they most represent the kind of possession where your expected to make the shot, especially with regards to 3pt ability.

    Theres PnR Data that shows us how good he is at creating open looks for himself off that play type and the kind of shots he settles for.

    If you need assistance accumulating this data I can lend a hand, but as it stands I think its safe to say the criticisms of Melo are correct, obviously he can change things but so can other players, Bron became ever more efficient as he went on, its possible that he takes it up another notch now that he doesnt have to create every shot.

    • Sammy

      This article makes me wish I had full Synergy access.

      • http://PSD Chronz

        Full Synergy cost like several G’s doesnt it?

  • http://PSD Chronz

    Isolation data is probably what your looking for, it accounts for the majority of Melo’s offense and most stars as well.

    Spot Up Shooting Marks
    Melo: 1.01PPP 206Plays (3PT% .381 105ATT)
    Durant: 1.03PPP 253Plays (3PT% .372 148ATT)

  • joe

    great bar graph, but where did you get your info? i can make stuff up too

  • DH

    Impressive work, Jeremy! Most of what you found was expected, but there were a few surprises.

    I have seen many of those derisive “volume scorer” comments, mostly from your fellow TrueHoop bloggers, and it drives me crazy. Yes, Melo has limitations. But he is an elite scorer – not just a volume scorer.

    Using my eyeballs, I have come to many of the same conclusions that your statistics show. In a nutshell, Melo does not have great efficiency statistics because he has poor shot selection. But why is that? I have a few ideas…

    1) As others have suggested, the Nuggets’ system seems to be part of the problem. Or, to put it more bluntly, the lack of a legitimate system and/or offensive sets is death to offensive efficiency. Put Melo in Utah, for example, and if he buys in to the system, his efficiency will skyrocket, in my opinion.

    2) Melo doesn’t trust his teammates. I think Melo is a terrific (though not always willing) passer. But who can he pass to? Martin? (clank) Nene? (won’t attack the rim) Afflalo? (O.K., maybe now he trusts him, but before that he didn’t really know him) Birdman? (no comment needed) J.R.? (why would Melo pass up a shot just so J.R. can chuck up a worse shot) There are times early in games where it looks like Melo is determined to pass. After several bricks from his teammates, Melo starts forcing shots again. I have even said to myself while watching games that Melo must lead the league in SHBA’s (Should Have Been an Assist). Of course, that’s a big exaggeration, but I can literally see Melo’s frustration in those situations. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to criticize the other Nuggets as much as it might seem like I am. Again, a good offensive system would put Melo’s teammates in a position to convert on many of those assists.

    3) Ego (or Ego’s twin brother, Insecurity). I could go on a long rant regarding all of this ridiculous talk about being the “alpha dog” or “the man”, but I’ll save it for another day. Suffice it to say that Melo thinks he needs to be exactly that. The best example I can think of is when Al Thornton (of all people) was getting the best of him in every possible way. Melo was determined to show him who’s boss. In the process, he forced bad shots, had several turnovers, and generally looked like an amateur that night – all because he couldn’t just make the smart play instead of trying to be an alpha dog. I think Melo’s success in the playoffs and early last season (when he was considered a leading MVP candidate) only reinforced the wrong ideas in his mind. He had success because he played smart basketball. But being successful made him think he could do it all himself. So he started playing bad basketball again.

    With the right team and especially the right coach, I think Melo will reach his awesome potential. I always point to the World Championships, where his efficiency was through the roof. Sure, he had unbelievable teammates and inferior competition. But still, he could have forced shots. He trusted his teammates. He made the smart play because not doing so would land him on the bench (I presume) and because he wanted the respect of his teammates (I presume again). I think if he finds a tough, smart coach that he respects, his career will hit another level.

  • REP

    These data does not take into account of FREE THROWS?? Ok, Martin may be low in terms of contested shots made, but i question the data on drawing fouls when contested? Perhaps Martin missed a bulk of his shots due to his ability to draw fouls????? If so, Martin is AS EFFICIENT as the players that made the bulk of their shots contested. How do you NOT take into account of ability to draw fouls and only contested “made shots” and call it “efficiency”? This is bogus.

  • roslololian

    nice effort to make an analysis but your omission of 3’s and Fts make it useless, and in some cases actually make your reader more ignorant than before (if they didn’t realize you omitted fts and 3%s).

    Melo is the worst 3 point shooter on your list of players. Since he’s a horrible 3 pt shooter, he doesn’t take as much 3s as the other players so his FG% will be higher. However a 3 is worth more than a 2, so by not including its value in your analysis you are penalizing the rest of your sample for having a 3 pt game and rewarding Melo for being limited.

    Your analysis on Kevin Martin is a good example of this, by excluding fts and 3% you made Kevin Martin look like a useless player on the court. But the reason he’s so good is he can not only hit open shots, he can also take 3 pointers and convert fts at a high rate! This makes him valuable, because opponents don’t know if he will take the three, take the spot up 2 or go to the rack for the foul. Melo doesn’t have options like these, which is why he has the most amount of contested shots, opponents can read him like a book.

    So Melo’s game is also a big reason why he takes a lot of contested shots, its not just because the Nuggets don’t have a good O system. If all you can do is score in the paint, opponents will just play zone and bother you all game long. Worse they will encourage Melo to take 3s and settle for mid-range jumpers, both of which Melo will happily take since he’s a volume chucker.

    Add fts and 3 pointers to your analysis and you’ll see why the stats show melo to be inefficient, and why these same stats make KM look so good.

  • http://yahoo castro

    Let’s be serious Melo was 2nd or 3rd in ft atts last year. He is a dead on mid range jump shooter most nights and attacks the rim/basket with much more success than any of these guys other than Lebron and possibly Wade who has been injury prone over the past few years. The previous comments also failed to mention that Melo is a better 3pt shooter or at least as good as any of these guys other than Martin and Durant.. Wade has very limited range and we have seen Lebron and Kobe’s 3pt shooting cost their teams games. Melo definately is a better 3pt shooter than Wade and Lebron didn’t even have a decent jumper until a couple years ago!!

    • roslololian

      If Melo indeed is a great mid-range shooter why is his stats so poor then? Statistics don’t come out of thin air, they are a record of what really happened during the game.

      You can’t say someone is a great shooter/scorer when he is less productive than the rest of the players on this list. TS% in particular take into account fts, 3 pts and 2 pointers taken. If Melo is as good as you say he is then his TS% should be much higher than what it is now.

  • http://yahoo castro

    We also have to mention that because Melo has played with playmakers his assist and other stats aren’t as inflated as a Wade or Lebron because he simply doesn’t handle the ball as much as these guys do. I think if Melo ever finds himself with a Mo Williams or John Paxson type{throwback refrence lol}he would have a heck of a lot more assists especially considering he has avgd around 4 per game while playing with guys like Chauncey Billups, AI, and even Andre Miller all guys who tend to hold on to the ball and be more assertive than recent pg’s playing with any of these guys other than maybe Westbrook who has recently taken a bigger role in OKC’s offense, and Brooks in Houston with Martin, who really just got there so we will have to see!!

  • notme

    tremendous job getting all these datas down, and i agree the nuggets do lack with their play calling thus leaving melo in iso and most of the times forcing him take contested/bad shots. speaking of play calling, rick adelman does a great job of running the rockets offense which why kmart ends up getting easy looks/open shots

  • jr15

    What about accounting for the times when Melo gets hacked when he drives to the rim and doesn’t get a call, while a Kobe, Durant or LBJ would get the call? His FG % definitely goes down with that ref bias.
    I know I am a Nugget fan, but Carmelo is in the paint more than those aforementioned elite scorers and gets hacked a lot more than they do but doesn’t get as many calls as they do. You should do another analysis to confirm that lol. I know he complains a lot, but refs should call what they see and not let judgments about a player cloud their decision.

  • Ian

    Instead of a few selected games why not take the entire season and playoffs in that way the results are more statistically correct and valid?

  • Big Meech

    You say you’ve watched all of Melo’s games then you should know that teams play defense different against Melo than they do “other superstars” in the league. They put Melo’s defender all in his chest then they bring over the point guard from the top and the big man on Melo’s right side so it’s like a zone just when Melo have the ball. If those “other superstars” was better than Melo at scoring why do those players get a lot of 1on1 coverage? I see a lot of wade and lebron get 1on1 coverage that Melo hardly ever gets. Like in the Chicago series against the cavs. Lou deng had a bum knee but yet he was out there on a island by himself guarding lebron. A healthy Lou deng wouldn’t and couldn’t guard Melo by hisself. And if you watch the NBA you would see that those other stars in the league use a lot of screens to either get a open shot or get a weaker defender on them. KD he runs around screens and catch and shoot. The lakers took that away in the playoffs that’s why his shooting% was never good the whole series. And Kobe plays in the triangle or he use some pick and rolls with gasol specially in the 4th quarters. Same for wade and lebron they use a lot of pick and rolls at the top of the key so yes their shooting% is going to be better and also their assist cause they initiate all the offense. That’s 1of the reason why when those 2players go down with a injury their teams look so lost. Melo is the ultimate iso player with the most moves in the NBA. I don’t know if it’s him or Karl that puts him in mostly iso situations but if he would use as many screens as those other players your talking about his numbers would be higher than all of them.

  • Chris

    I am hearing all the buzz about the nuggets making a trade with New York, but Mozgov is never mentioned. He has a lot of upside.

  • zebulon

    I think the criticisms of Melo’s efficiency stats should take into account the Denver offense, which is predictable and doesn’t make use of all the talent they do have (so often results in a stupid shot by JR, Billups, or Melo). Big Meech mentions teams loading up on Melo (shifting a big over to his side of the floor, zoning up on the back side), but doesn’t acknowledge that this is only possible because of how the Nugs set up their offensive sets, and how defenses have plenty of time to shift their defense towards Melo, because he doesn’t attack immediately off the catch, and there isn’t motion on the weakside of the play (drawing the defenses attention).

    For a perfect explanation of this, check out Kevin Arnovitz’ article on truehoop from last years playoffs:

  • rob

    Great read but I turned off when the comparison between Wade and Melo mentioned only scoring. Why would one assume that ‘scoring efficiency’ = ‘efficiency’?

  • Dre

    You made the article I’ve been looking for! I’ve pretty much said from a stats perspective all Melo does well is take foul shots. On the other hand it’s hard to deny his skill. It’s good to see verification that a lot of his issues come from him taking “bad shots”. Thanks for the hard work!

  • AmazingStinch

    Martin also took a LOT less shots to get his points: how can anyone overlook that fact?

  • Italian Stallion

    Wade has historically been more efficient than Melo based on TS%. That’s true despite playing many games at well under 100% due to an assortment of injuries. When Wade is healthy, he’s very efficient. He may not be Lebron efficient, but he’s way above average.

    Wade also gets a pass because he’s better than Melo at several other things (like making plays, steals etc..). Even where he’s inferior (like rebounding), he’s better than the average SG by more than Melo is better than the average SF.

    Quite honestly, there is no comparison between the two players.

  • Bill Gish

    Why are we all so skittish and scornful about discussing the whole alpha dog thing?

    We probably all played some hoops as kids, I know I did.

    Even if I had been blessed with more length and innate talent I have to confess I’m no alpha dog. I might have been a Rashard Lewis but not a ‘Melo.

    I have spend decades hating on players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and I think it’s partly the instinctive reaction of us other dogs to the dominant male we’ll never be.

    If we were back on the playground picking guys for a game of skins versus shirts which one of us stat nerds would’a picked Kevin Martin over Carmelo?

    And if you did, that’s why you always lost.

    The real question may be, does a successful NBA team have to have one of these alpha dogs?

    And if you already have one, like the Knicks now have A’mare, what happens if you introduce another one into the pack?