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How Carmelo Anthony helps the Knicks score more efficiently beyond his own points

Jan 30, 2014, 4:28 PM EDT

Charlotte Bobcats v New York Knicks

It’s been nearly a week since Carmelo Anthony had 62 points and zero assists against the Charlotte Bobcats. The amazement over his scoring and giggling over his passing has begun to fade.

But the deep-seated belief that Melo is a one-dimensional chucks who doesn’t make his teammates better persists, as strong as ever.

The perception just isn’t accurate, though

The New York Knicks’ offensive rating with Melo on the court is 105.4 (equivalent of ninth in the NBA) and 97.0 (equivalent of 30th in the league). Melo’s singular offensive brilliance somewhat explains the disparity – just not all of it.

As Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal explains in great depth, Melo is a very effective passer. A couple examples:

Anthony’s teammates shoot 47.6% (126-of-264) after receiving one of his passes, much better than their 43.4% (1,203-of-2,772) mark in other situations.

But Melo doesn’t even need to pass to help his teammates score more efficiently. Simply being on the floor is enough.

Nate Silver researched the phenomenon a few years ago, and he found Nuggets players scored more efficiently in seasons they spent with Melo relative to seasons they spent on other teams. Back then though, Silver’s results were limited by the data available. He couldn’t separate how well players shot within a given season when playing with Melo and when not, and comparing a player across multiple seasons brings in many other unwanted variables.

Now we can easily smooth those rough edges, and Silver’s conclusions still appear true.

Eleven of Melo’s teammates this season have taken both 30 shots with him on the floor and 30 shots with him on the bench. Of those 11, nine are shooting a higher effective field-goal percentage when Melo plays (Tyson Chandler and Pablo Prigioni being the exceptions).

Here’s how the effective field-goal percentages compare for all 11, with Melo on (orange) and off (blue), via nbawowy:


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Why does this happen?

A few reasons stand out:

1. If Melo is a black hole on offense, he not only sucks in the ball, but the defense too. Few players attract as much defensive attention as Melo, and that obviously frees space for his floormates.

2. Most opponents guard Melo with their best wing defender. That means Melo’s teammates are guarded by relatively lesser defenders.

3. Every time the shot clock is on the verge on expiring – a common occurrence for even the best-run offenses – the Knicks try to get the ball to Melo. As they should. He’s more likely to score in those situations than any other Knick. By accepting all those necessary low-efficiency shots, Melo protects the efficiency of his teammates.

Measures of efficiency that look only at the common box score when capture this nuance. They’ll just see Melo’s relative modest shooting percentages and low assist totals.

But dig deeper, and Melo’s value to New York’s offense becomes more apparent.

As if the offensive value of someone who can score 62 points in a game needs greater explanation, anyway.

  1. aboogy123456 - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Great article, there is a sentiment out there that Melo is inefficient or doesn’t make his teammates better, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you watch the games, you see that he does a great job of creating offense for others, and I’m glad there are some stats to back it up.

    • cruzan80 - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:11 AM

      “If you watch the games”

      That right there is the problem with most of these haters who are posing as genuine “sports fans”. They look up the box sore from say last night’s game for example & see that Melo went 8-17 & had 1 assist. Then they jump on sites like this one & starting spewing garbage all over like “He only had one assist! He’s so selfish!” or “He only scores a lot because he likes to shoot a lot!”. When the FACT is that there are numerous situations throughout the game where he makes the RIGHT play & PASS but the player he PASSED it to missed. There was a play in last nights game where Melo hit a wide open Felton only for Felton to throw up an air ball….Felton finished 0-2 from behind the arc. But had they lost this game…the focus would’ve been Melo’s 1 assist.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        you forgot my “18” in my name Cruz…

        And your point is valid, about any ONE game.

        But when looked at OVER the course of a FULL season and for his ENTIRE career… well he IS inefficient.

        Many on these sites say it. He’s a volume scorer even if you don’t like that I say it, MANY others say.

        Why? Because it is TRUE.

        He scores a lot because he shoots a lot.

        If he were efficient, he’d score a lot while shooting less.

        Oh, he doesn’t play defense either…

  2. ihatecomingupwiththesenames - Jan 30, 2014 at 4:40 PM


  3. sun602 - Jan 30, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    When there is a positive article about the Knicks, you know Kurt Helin is not the author.

  4. money2long - Jan 30, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    the haters went into hiding.
    this type of article is like RAID to them.
    like i said before, the way these think-they-know-it-all’s talk about melo is NOT an accurate reflection of the real carmelo. the internet has gone overboard on him. i rest my case.

    • sportsfan18 - Jan 31, 2014 at 7:06 AM

      Like Raid? Nah! It’s just lies, just like the liberal democrats spew out about, well everything.

    • cruzan80 - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:17 AM

      Right on my man. This article has definitely exposed a lot of those haters posing as real “sportsfans”.

  5. antistratfordian - Jan 30, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    “But the deep-seated belief that Melo is a one-dimensional chucks who doesn’t make his teammates better persists, as strong as ever.”

    Every elite scorer is accused of this until they win… and the longer you go without winning the worse it gets. There was even a small sect of haters accusing LeBron James of this back in his final years at Cleveland. What Melo really needed to do though was choose his franchise more wisely back in 2011 – he went to New York because of the city, not because it’s a well run franchise, and that was a major mistake.

    • dinofrank60 - Jan 30, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      It wasn’t a mistake because he wanted to be in New York.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 30, 2014 at 9:04 PM

        If he likes New York and wants to live there… fine… he can live there all he wants after he retires, or during the offseason. But he should’ve made a better decision for his career.

      • dinofrank60 - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:52 PM

        He’s happy in New York, at least that what his wife says. Now, could he have found a better team to play for? Maybe. Could he leave the Knicks? Maybe.

        But his career satisfaction isn’t based on what fans think, it’s based on what he thinks and wants. There was nothing wrong with his choice.

    • jetnotjets - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:41 AM

      He went to NY believing that Amare was going to be healthy and put up the same numbers for their time together. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It’s a shame too. I don’t think Amare will ever be at 100% again. But it was not a mistake for Melo to go to NY unless you’re only looking in hindsight.

  6. cruzan80 - Jan 30, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    Sportsfan!!!!! Sportsfan!!!!! Where are you Sportsfan!?!?!?!?!?!

    • sportsfan18 - Jan 30, 2014 at 11:13 PM

      Here I am…

      Stats? Here is the link to basketball reference dot com

      Uh, you gotta scroll all the way down to number 202 to find the inefficient MeHog/MeBrick.

      Let’s compare MeHog/MeBrick to other stars in the game that are well know by all of us.

      On this same list where you find MeBrick down at #202, you’ll find the following:

      Magic is #9
      Nash is #14
      Durant is #18
      Nowitzki is 46th
      Ray Allen is #49th
      LeBron is 52nd
      Chris Paul is 61st
      Chris Bosh is 63rd
      Pau Gasol is 74th
      Michael Jordan is 76th
      Paul Pierce is 78th
      D Wade is 80th
      Larry Bird is 93rd

      Kobe, another volume scorer like MeHog/MeBrick is 137th

      MeHog/MeBrick is 202nd

      Interesting just where Melo is on this list compared to many of his contemporaries isn’t it?

      Now this stat ONLY takes into account 2 pt shots, 3 pt shots and free throws. In others words shooting. Melo is NOT efficient.

      Now for an example as they are always better than words…

      I’ll use stats from last year, for the full season.

      Durant averaged 28.1 pts a game
      MeBrrck averaged 28.7 pts a game

      Just HOW did MeHog lead the league in scoring? He lead the league in scoring because he took 22.22 shots a game folks.

      Durant only took 17.69 shots a game.

      Had Durant taken that many shots, he would have blown by MeHog and averaged WELL over 30 pts a game.

      Here is more info for you. Two seasons ago, MeHog “only” averaged 18.6 shots a game, which is still more than Durant averaged per game last yr.

      Just how man points a game did the INEFFIECIENT MeHog average while taking 18.6 shots a game? Why just over 22 points a game folks.

      Durant averaged just over 28 points a game on 17.69 shots a game.

      Melo IS inefficient.

      Melo IS well below the Durant’s, LBJ’s, Chris Paul’s, Paul Pierce’s, Nowitzki’s, Bosh’s, D Wade’s etc… when it comes to true shooting percentage.

      He is NOT even close actually.

      • cruzan80 - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:37 PM

        The article above (the one everyone actually read) says all that crap you just took time to type means less than nothing….good job.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:07 PM

        It means they need to repaint the rims at halftime of games he plays in… MeBRICK.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:52 PM


        Stats for this season so far…

        Durant 19.9 shots a game
        Melo 21.3 shots a game

        Durant 31.3 points a game
        Melo 27.2 points a game

        Hmm… MORE shots by Melo per game and quite a few points LESS even while shooting more…

        LeBron 16.5 shots a game
        Melo 21.3 shots a game

        LeBron 26.2 points a game
        Melo 27.2 shots a game

        Hmm… ONE of these players doesn’t seem to get nearly as much out of all of his shot attempts…

        Oh yeah, Melo makes and has made MORE money that LeBron too… They came into the league at the same time and they are now in their 11th season and Melo has more career earnings that LeBron.

        But since Melo has 4 MVP’s, 2 league titles… oh, wait… my bad, the guy who earns less has won those, not MeHog…

      • cruzan80 - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        LOL, your hate is at this point has become straight up comedy relief now. The FACTS in Mr. Feldman’s article contradicts the garbage you continue to regurgitate over & over. The same tried & quite frankly worthless point about how many shots Melo takes vs anyone else, who by the way all play with other prolific all stars (another point you always convieniently leave out) just exposes how ignorant you are. Like i said earlier. Anyone can look at the box score & give an opinion after searching only for the stats that support their opinion. You hate Carmelo Anthony….we get it…..but don’t insult everyone else’s intelegence by trying to prove something that simply is incorrect as it was PROVEN in the article above. But I have to be honest….i do get a kick outta reading your crap. “Oh and he doesn’t play defense.”…..LOL…..comments like that prove your nothing but a hater…’s comedy now & i enjoy a good laugh just as much as the next guy so by all means….keep em coming sportsfan7.

  7. chicagosports2014 - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:12 AM


  8. blazermaniac22 - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:54 PM

    Dude still isn’t winning anything significant

    • sportsfan18 - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      Exactly! Well said blaze…

      • cruzan80 - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Shout out to these two Nostradamus characters right here!

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