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Is Carmelo Anthony an elite player?

Aug 5, 2010, 7:38 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for Anthony_game.jpgTom Haberstroh of (insider required) makes a fairly convincing case that he’s not:

At first glance, Anthony seems like a member of the NBA’s elite, largely due to his scoring prowess. But a deeper look at the points column and elsewhere in his game reveals a player who lives on an undeserved reputation more than his actual impact on wins.
It’s tough to argue with his 28.2 points-per-game average in ’09-10, but in the game of basketball, how a shooter gets his points is more meaningful than the raw number itself. To see that, we need to peel back the layers…
…after stripping out the inflationary effect of fast pace and boiling down Anthony’s numbers to a per possession level, his scoring punch looks pedestrian. How pedestrian? Anthony’s career offensive rating, an efficiency measure that calculates how many points a player produces per 100 possessions he uses, checks out at 107, which sits right at the league average. For reference, 2003 draft-mates James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have earned 114, 111, and 113 lifetime offensive ratings, respectively.

There’s much more in the full article, which I encourage you to read if you have insider. The value of players with ultra-high usage rates and average to below-average efficiency statistics is extremely hard to gauge — call it the Allen Iverson paradox, or the Monta Ellis effect. 

What it generally comes down to is a chicken-or-egg question; are these players selflessly sacrificing their efficiency by creating shot opportunities that none of their teammates would have been able to, or are they taking possessions away from their more efficient teammates? 
The Nuggets have certainly surrounded Anthony with talented teammates over the years, but the synergy between Anthony and his teammates hasn’t always been there. The Nuggets do a good job of setting Anthony up with easy looks around the basket, but their offense also devolves into what the Nuggets themselves refer to as “random offense,” which generally involves Anthony taking the ball in isolation or standing on the wing and watching one of his teammates take the ball in isolation. That’s not the way to get the most out of Anthony’s talents, and his efficiency numbers reflect that. 
The question is whether the way Anthony plays now is the way he wants to play or the way the Nuggets’ system forces him to play — if the Nuggets (or another team) can work more ball movement into an Anthony-centric offense, he might earn the max deal he’ll almost certainly get after all. 
  1. Lakers Nation - Aug 5, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    No he is not. Especially since he’s not even the best player on his team. Chauncey Billups needs to show him how to become a leader and take over in the crunch. Takes time and the maturity to handle the responsibilities of an “Elite Player” off and on the court.

  2. gianthinker - Aug 5, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    He’ll be a great Knick teamed with Amare.

  3. Tomas - Aug 5, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    Yes – simple, one of the only players to win a NCAA title and compete at a high level in the NBA – get him on a solid squad that plays D and they will contend with anyone.

  4. I_will_take_my_sandwich_to_south_BH - Aug 5, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    yes… he is very avg player… in fact even u might do better than him in points per possession… do u want to make this argument to him in person?
    are u saying bosh is better player than him?
    have u seen bosh play?

  5. SFWA - Aug 5, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    He’s a great outside shooter and slashing inside scorer and he can handle the ball well for a guy his height…that’s it though.

  6. hnirobert - Aug 5, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    great player who does not have it mentally. hopefully married life will tighten his head on right.

  7. phil collins - Aug 5, 2010 at 10:33 PM

    he’s a notch below kobe/lebron/durant, but right there behind them.

  8. GRiZZ - Aug 6, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    Bottom line…
    If Carmelo Anthony was playing on the Cavaliers team last year, instead of Lebron… Cleveland would have beat Boston in the East Finals…
    Don’t know if they beat the Lakers or not, but they would have beaten the Celtics.

  9. trueballs - Aug 6, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    Wrong, Grizz. You know how fast the celtics defense would have eaten Melo up? The Celts defense and their whole playoff run was far more impressive than the Lakers winning it all IMO. Cleveland would have won if they had anyone but Mike Brown as the coach, and if LeBron didn’t quit in game 5..and Shaq returning from injury on the first day screwed up a lot

  10. nimble - Aug 6, 2010 at 5:13 AM

    perfect ”dude”,just perfect.Enough with this Hollinger crap.

  11. big meech - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    everybody always trying to talk about Melo dont know how to be a leader but what about james a so called leader went to be lead by wade. and nobody was calling kobe a leader until he got gasol now all of a sudden kobe is a leader no he just got the pieces around him to make him look like a leader. nobody is saying gasol is the leader but people always saying billups is the leader if you watch the games a i do you will see that Melo is just as much leader that anybody else is. i dont know how you can be 1 of the captains on the usa team and you not a leader

  12. YEAH BUDDY - Aug 6, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    this whole story is BS…wtf is your arguement for Rudy Gay and him getting a max deal?, your trying to explain why Carmelo shouldn’t get a max deal and you compare that to some statistic, Carmelo is in the top 5 leading scorers every damn year, Melo is the best player on the Nuggets, he is the reason why they are in the playoffs every year
    i can’t believe someone would even bring this up for debate

  13. Dave - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Good case, here.

  14. Dave - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    People forget how Anthony was the go-to guy on some of the USA teams.

  15. Dave - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    People forget that Carmelo was the go-to guy on USA squads that included the NBA’s best.

  16. mali - Aug 6, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    ask Lebron when Carmelo came to the Q if Carmelo is elite!!! lol Lebron had a birds eye view when Carmelo hit that jumper in his face!!!!

  17. Luis Rodriguez - Aug 9, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    – NCAA Champion whit Syracuse
    – MOP 2003 NCAA Championship
    – He leds Syracuse to their first championship tittle and being
    a freshman
    – #1 Freshman of alltimes in an article published in this media
    and I agree that.
    – Denver havent miss the playoffs since his in the team
    – Lead the team usa 2008 to take back the credibility winning the
    olimpic medal
    – captain of the olimpic team.
    – one of the top 5 scores in every season
    – the top free agent in next summer
    He beats Lebron whit a super shot rigth in his face in an
    outstanding game this year… and you Say hes a avrg player let
    me say what i think about this article JAAAA ja ja jaaa !! Melo
    all the Time

  18. Ryan - Aug 27, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    dude he is going to the warriors for monta and biedrins…it is the best deal..

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