These days nearly everybody has a cell phone with a camera on it, and most have the ability to shoot video and audio from it as well. What a great convenience when you need to capture some moment of time to save and share. However, if you are some sort of celebrity, this can be a real pain. Just this week Superstar swimming phenom Michael Phelps’ personal finances and world credibility took a great hit because a picture surfaced of him with his face buried in a bong at what looks like a house party. In the information era, somebody is always watching or listening it seems.
So I am trying to understand the context behind Carmelo Anthony’s latest comments captured in a Denver Post story. Perhaps he was just talking to to a buddy or teammate completely off the record when some nosy Denver Post reporter happened to be in earshot and captured what was said on his cell phone. Maybe somehow the words were taken out of context. Maybe Carmelo has such an inflated self worth that he truly thinks he’s “all that”. Who knows?
According to the Denver Post, Carmelo, apparently discussing his recent absence from the All Star roster was asked “who is the best small forward in the Western Conference”? To which Carmelo replied “I’m the only one out here in the West,” Anthony said Tuesday. “Can you name one better?”…
The first part of the response is a statement, the second part is a question. The statement sort of implies that he’s all there is as far as players worthy of All Star status in the West are concerned. I think that’s incredibly narcissistic if you ask me. The question however deserves an answer, and allow me to answer it: YES.
If Carmelo is the sole Western Conference small forward worthy of All Star consideration, you would expect him to be having the best season among them right? Take a look here at a head to head comparison of Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant thus far this season. Skip on down to the per 36 minute comparison so we can compare apples to apples since Carmelo is playing fewer minutes than Durant. As you will see, Durant is shooting the ball much better than Carmelo any which way you look. He’s got a better field goal percentage, better 3fg percentage and better free throw percentage (KD is actually 18th in the entire league in 3fg% at this time). There’s no denying Durant is shooting well, significantly better than Carmelo.
Credit where credit is due: Carmelo has some points in his favor. He is a better rebounder than Durant. Carmelo is also better at distributing the rock to his teammates and he gets to the line more frequently than Durant. Those are all aspects of the game that are significant. However, Durant is a better shot blocker, turns the ball over less, and draws fewer fouls. Also consider that Durant spent the first 13 games of the season out of position at the shooting guard position. You will probably notice that Carmelo actually scores 4/10ths of a point more per 36 minutes of play, but also notice that he uses more than an extra field goal attempt to do it in. Durant is a more efficient scorer than Carmelo.
Now skip on down to the advanced stat line. There you will notice that Durant has a higher offensive rating (points per 100 possession), and a lower usage. Those are good things. Durant does more with each possession, and uses fewer of them. Admittedly Carmelo has a better defensive rating which can’t be ignored, but defensive ratings and offensive ratings are still a function of team play, and so it is hard to really parse out the individual offensive and defensive ratings of these two.
Also on the advanced line you will notice the PER (player efficiency rating) for each guy. See how Kevin Durant’s is higher? Higher is better. PER is John Hollinger’s statistical yardstick for overall statistical contribution by a player.
By my own calculation, Kevin Durant has a *Win Score (per 48) of 10.25. Carmelo’s Win Score is 9.2. Again higher is better.
Perhaps you can make the arguement that Carmelo is every bit as good or even better than Durant. So be it, you’ve seen the stats, you make the call. People have their opinions. But remember, Karma has a way of biting you in the butt. Not too long ago, a super narcisssitic Stephon Marbury was asked who was the best point guard in the NBA? Well you guessed it, according to him, it was him. Now just a couple of years later, where is Stephon? Oh that’s right, begging to be bought out by the Knicks because he is a cancer. It’s much better to let the experts engage in the soap box pontifications about the best and the greatest than to open your mouth and insert your foot by naming yourself.
Just for fun, here is a little head to head to head comparison of Kevin Durant, Camelo Anthony and Lebron James each at 20 years old in their second seasons, of which, Durant is still completing.