The myth of Melo: Is Carmelo Anthony overrated?

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Picture Art: Dustin Watson/Dark Wing Illustrations

Some call him great. Others – good. Me – I’d say he’s just bad

They had to do it.

The Knicks had to trade for Carmelo Anthony. So what if it cost Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and two draft picks? So what if he held the Nuggets hostage for an entire season? NYC couldn’t pass up the opportunity for the NBA’s “best pure scorer”. But that uncanny ability has never lead to wins, except for one deep playoff run with Denver in 2009.

“Wages of Wins” knocked Melo from an advanced statistical perspective, arguing that the former Orangeman produced less wins than Joakim Noah. “Impossible,” you cried. “Have you seen this guy when he gets hot? He’s unstoppable. Statistics can’t be trusted. I know what I see.”

Do you?

While “Wages” offers the stat geek’s perspective, great coaches like Greg Popovich and fans alike trust the “eye test”. Even if you don’t trust basketball sabermetrics, the eye exam alone should tell you that Carmelo Anthony is the most overrated player in the League.

Watch New York with Carmelo on the block. The sequence plays out as follows:

-Guard dumps ball inside,

-Guard clears lane,

-Amare waits,

-Melo chucks,

-Woodson groans.

No matter how well Anthony is running, no offense can stay efficient with heavy isolation. The defenders are too good, and Anthony’s teammates will inevitably become restless.

And that’s just the offense. How many blown defensive assignments will it take for people to realize that what he’s taking off the table defensively outweighs his illusory offensive contribution?

When he missed time due to injury the Knicks’ flourished. The offense utilized this timeless art called “passing”. The pick and roll created easy baskets. Amare was streaking to the hoop like the old days. Fields wasn’t petrified to make a mistake. Combine that with a better defender in Anthony’s place and the Knicks were better with Carmelo out.

People talk about Melo being a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. But he’s a chemistry nightmare for his teammates and coaches. He griped about the attention Jeremy Lin got during his ascent. He quit on Nuggets’ coach George Karl. He quit on Mike D’antoni, leading to his dismissal. He quits on D when someone sets a hard screen on him. This pattern of selfishness has not and will not lead to winning.

You saw the Heat annihilate the Knicks in the first round, a team they supposedly matched up well against. Why will it be different this year, when all they’ve done is replace Lin with an aging Jason Kidd?

Look at it from Denver’s perspective. The Nuggets instantly clicked after the trade two seasons ago, finishing that year 19-11. In 2011-2012 they had a great regular season, and pushed the Lakers to 7. After the trade Denver started distributing the ball, setting screens for each other, running the break, and scoring more efficiently. Upon Melo’s departure, George Karl said it best, “Melo’s the best offensive player I’ve ever coached. But his defensive focus, his demand of himself, is what frustrated us more than anything.”

Carmelo Anthony has a silky jumper, a mean back-to-the-basket post game, and the ability to catch fire at any moment. But none of his skills incorporate his team. Even though the league is dominated by superstars, teams win. Not individuals.

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