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Carmelo Anthony’s perception and reality

Carmelo-Anthony

As many of you all know, I am a huge Carmelo Anthony fan and want him to succeed more than ever. From my previous article at the end of last year’s season, you can tell I got his back. This has been one of the best years he has had in his career and yet people still don’t believe in Melo and call him a selfish player. Yes I know he has been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs 8 times but his it’s never all his fault as his team always gets the injury bug or doesn’t step up in the playoffs. Being the superstar, of course he is going to be blamed for his postseason record, and I am not making any excuses for him, but one man can’t win it all anymore (ask Lebron). I am here to defend the best scorer in the NBA.

The thing that bothers me is that when he was with the Nuggets, people said, ‘They didn’t win playoff games.’ Well, they got in the playoffs; they hadn’t gotten in before. You’re not going to win a lot of playoff games when you’re the seventh or eighth seed and you’re playing the Spurs or Lakers in the first round. It doesn’t mean you can’t play or you’re not a good leader or you’re not a winner. When things were clicking, he was 2 games away from making the NBA Finals.

Then comes the notion that he is a selfish player and doesn’t make anyone better. If you ask Melo’s teammates, they love playing with him and doesn’t understand the gossip about him being a selfish player. Even Melo knows that is a slap in the face. “None of my teammates I’ve ever played with would say that I was a selfish player. Nobody,” Anthony said. Longtime teammate Kenyon Martin says “Smart basketball player, and the best player on the team — hands down. So I don’t understand why people are questioning whether he’s selfish or not. No, the man is not selfish. The man wants to win. He’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

That winning attitude had caused him to elevate his game this year. Chandler knew he was going to have a big year this year. “This is going to be a breakout year. I’m saying that as much as he accomplished in his career already, he’s going to put together a huge season, show everything he’s capable of doing on the basketball floor.”

Anthony_Jeremy_LinOh and I am sure there are no hard feelings from Jeremy Lin towards Melo after the fallout over the summer. After all, Carmelo was the one to tell coach to give him a shot at playing and was excited about the notion of playing together. Sure on the outside, it looks like Melo had spite towards Lin but I am seeing now that he was looking at the big picture of building a championship team right now. Resigning Lin would leave the Knicks no room for adding other pieces. And Lin must still be cordial with Anthony because Melo’s son still loves him.

Also, thank god for the impact Jason Kidd has had on Melo this year. His presence has evolved Melo to an even better player, just like he did with Dirk Nowitzki. Kidd told Stephen A Smith this year that “Carmelo is unstoppable! But more importantly he is incredibly unselfish and he believes in us. We are winning games because he allows us to do it, because he believes in us and trust us.” Then he addresses the notion of him being selfish. “He won a national championship at Syracuse, you don’t win championships when your selfish. He knows how to be unselfish and it is time that he get his due.”

Kobe recognizes how talented Melo is and says he is the toughest guy to guard in the NBA (even more so than Lebron). He realizes Melo is on another level this year and believes the media is wrong to criticize him, especially about the Linsanity situation. “I think the difference now is he has pieces around him that are complementary and enable him to do what he does best,” Bryant said. “I think we’re all starting to recognize what his talents are.”

His old college coach at Syracuse explains it best “I think he does make other guys better, because he forces double teams,” Jim Boeheim says. To judge Anthony purely on passing is unfair, he argues. “Sure, LeBron can make passes that Carmelo can’t make, but [Kevin] Durant just scores, and nobody criticizes him. Carmelo is a scorer. If you have him on your team, you want him to score, that’s what he does.”

And this year he is doing a lot of it. In fact on the way to winning his first scoring title ( can you imagine that he does not have a scoring title yet in his career) and being 2nd in the running for MVP. Averaging 28.56 points per game and seeming almost impossible to stop on offense, Melo and the Knicks are clicking at the right time going into the playoffs. As Melo scores and wins, people begin to jump on his bandwagon, just like they do with Durant. Now America has officially made his jersey the number one selling jersey and the Knicks have won their division for the first time since 1994.

Anthony has been on a tear as of late but as we all know it doesn’t matter unless he wins in the playoffs. They are a legit contender against the Heat so watch out! I won’t speak on it right now because I don’t want to jinx them, but I am hoping Anthony goes really far in the playoffs and continues to have shot charts like this:

Carmelo Anthony's shot chart over his last 3gms (52/81 FGAs, 64.2%)!!

Carmelo Anthony’s shot chart over his last 3gms (52/81 FGAs, 64.2%)!!

On a side not, for all the criticism Melo receives, Durant is praised. In fact Durant is considered the second best player in the NBA and his game is very similar to Anthony’s. Now they are battling for the scoring title and Anthony has the edge.  Here is a repost from Chris Herring (chris.herring@wsj.com) at the Wall Street Journal that I wanted to share explaining how Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are essentially the same player.

At some point over the past two seasons, the following statement essentially became a universally accepted fact: Miami’s LeBron James and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant are the two best basketball players in the world.
It’s certainly not a wild stance to take. The two players finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the MVP voting last year before squaring off against each other in the NBA Finals. Shortly after that, they joined forces as teammates on the gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic team.
So it’s understandable why people pair the stars together in conversation and want them to become rivals. But there’s an argument to be made that Durant has far more in common with Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
The players, who would have squared off Thursday if not for Anthony’s knee injury, are considered among the game’s best pure scorers (Durant entered Thursday leading the NBA with 28.6 points a game, while Anthony was second at 28.2). But outside of that, Durant and Anthony seem to be perceived very differently despite having put together almost identical bodies of work from a statistical standpoint.
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Kevin Durant, left, and Carmelo Anthony are perceived differently despite being similar statistically.
Over the first five seasons of their careers, each averaged slightly over 24 points, six rebounds, three rebounds, three turnovers and one steal per 36 minutes of play. They both shot just over 46%, while using a little more than 30% of their teams possessions on offense.
Their intricacies are also the same. Celtics swingman Jeff Green, who’s had to guard both players, said he tries to force each player to use his right hand. “They’re similar in two ways: You can’t shut down either guy, and they’d both prefer to go left,” said Green, a former Durant teammate. “The best you can do is push them right to make their shot uncomfortable.”
Sure enough, when Durant and Anthony isolate they go left 68% and 70% of the time, respectively, according to Synergy Sports. Among NBA players who isolate more than twice a game, they’re the only two who go left on more than 65% of such situations.
Still, it’s rare to hear Anthony’s game compared with Durant’s. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who won a national title in Anthony’s lone season at the school and coached both players in the Olympics, said that bothers him.
“He’s a scorer just like Kevin Durant, but [Anthony] probably gets more criticism than everyone else,” said Boeheim in an interview from earlier in the season. He said he believes Anthony’s critics harp on him because he hasn’t ever made the Finals like Durant—a point Boeheim believes is unfair given that, in his opinion, Anthony’s had little to no chance to win titles with the rosters built around him. (The farthest Anthony’s ever advanced is the Western Conference finals.)
Of course there are other differences. Durant is 24, while Anthony is 28. Anthony made headlines by essentially forcing his way out of Denver via trade two years ago, while Durant quietly signed an extension to stay with the small-market Thunder.
Durant’s decision aligned with his likable public persona. Anthony, while likable, has a more rugged reputation, having been suspended in an on-court brawl and perennially being among the league leaders in technical fouls.
But even that no longer sets the former Olympic teammates apart: This season, Durant is second in the league with 13 techs, two more than Anthony so far.
Despite the players being almost the same—and to be clear, neither is known for his defense—analysts have made wildly differing comments about each man’s value to his team. Last year, for instance, many questioned whether Anthony dominated the ball too much; particularly in the midst of Linsanity. On the flip side, analysts had endless debates concerning whether Durant, by playing alongside Russell Westbrook, was getting too few shots.
But Anthony’s reputation as a gunner partly stems from the Knicks’ game-planning, which seldom calls plays for him and instead puts him in position to isolate (which he does on 28% of his possessions; more than Durant’s 23%). Oklahoma City calls a fair amount of plays to get Durant open, something Knicks center Tyson Chandler pointed out. As such, Durant shoots after coming off screens 12% of the time, compared with Anthony’s 5%, per Synergy.
“It’s hard to judge two guys who play in different systems, but I don’t think they’re that different,” said Ronnie Brewer, before he was traded from the Knicks to the Thunder last month. “They’re both a nightmare to defend.”
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