Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 2)

Warning: shit gets heavy somewhere near the end of this post.  Usually I enjoy picking apart Simmons, like "ha ha this guy is dumb, I'm having fun with this, tee hee."  Near the end of this post I got legitimately annoyed.  I think it comes through in the writing (I'm adding this intro after I finished the rest of it).  Enjoy!

Unfortunately, we need to compare Carmelo to a better player to prove that point.

That's a great indication that you won't be able to make that point.  This is like saying "I know where there's a million dollars in buried treasure.  Unfortunately, I need to go grab a million dollars and bury it before we go dig up that treasure."
The 2011 Mavericks won the title

Indeed they did.  Let's see how.

with a veteran team 

Average age of the eight guys who played the most minutes was 31, a bit upwardly skewed by 37 year old Jason Kidd.

built around a spectacular coach (Rick Carlisle), 

Definitely a good coach--career .588 winning percentage in the regular season, and .509 in the postseason.

an elite rim protector (Tyson Chandler), 

He definitely is, although he doesn't bring much offense.

an elite perimeter defender (Shawn Marion), 


an elite heat-check guy (Jason Terry), 

Idiotic terminology, and overstate's Terry's abilities--I'm not saying he's never hit a series of big shots, because he certainly did against the Heat in the 2011 Finals, but his career 3FG% is just just .379 and his career 2FG% is just .484.  (In 2010-2011, those numbers were .362 and .493 respectively.)  Anyways, Terry is a great 7th man, but not really a great 6th man.  Yes, I know he won the 6th man of the year award in 2008-2009, but he was playing 34 minutes a game.  NAWT A TRUE 6TH MAN.  HE IS THE CHANNING TATUM OF 6TH MEN.

quality 3-point shooting (39.4 percent and 184 made 3s in 21 playoff games), 

Agree, that is quality, although any playoff run is such a small sample as to be negligibly useful in judging whether the team was actually a good shooting team, or just happened to get hot at the right time.  The Mavs shot 36.5% during the 2010-2011 season.

savvy team defense 

Hooray for stupid bullshit (not even really anecdotal bullshit--this is somehow less useful than that would be) that can't be disproven!

and one historically good scorer with crunch-time chops (Dirk Nowitzki). 


If you believe Carmelo can lead a championship team, you’re leaning heavily on that 2011 Mavs playbook — you’d need all the elements we just covered, and you’d need Carmelo to unleash a damned good Dirk impression.

Yes, except for the fact that Dirk is better than Carmelo.

Only one problem: Dirk was better than Carmelo is.

Great, so there goes your whole point.  This has been productive.

Dirk is one of the 20 best basketball players of all time by any calculation. He’s the best foreign player ever not named Hakeem. Of the 10 best forwards ever, he’s behind Bird, LeBron and Duncan, right there with Doc, Elgin and Pettit, and ahead of Malone, Barkley and Rick Barry.  He won an MVP and a Finals MVP. He made four first-team All-NBA’s and five second-team All-NBA’s. He won 50-plus games for 11 straight years, topped 60 wins three times, made two Finals, beat LeBron and Wade in the Finals, and won a Game 7 in San Antonio during Duncan’s prime.

I'm not going to be so Simmonsy as to claim I know exactly where Carmelo stands among everyone all time, but suffice it to say that his resume does not stack up to Dirk's.  He's never finished higher than 3rd in MVP voting (in 2012-2013, mostly because he led the league in scoring) and has only been in the top 10 twice.  He hasn't won a Finals MVP, because, as we've discussed, he's only ever come remotely close to sniffing the Finals once in his eleven year career.  He's never been first team All NBA and has been second team just twice.  His teams have won 50 games just four times and have never topped 54 wins.  Basketballreference has something called the "Elo Player Rater," which, fuck if I really know how it works, but it appears to be a crowd-sourced set of rankings.  They currently have Dirk as the 3rd best active player and 22nd best all time.  Melo is younger, so he's had less time to cement a legacy, but he's just 16th best active and 67th best overall.  This "let's build a case for Melo as a guy who can win a Finals without other superstar help on the fact that Dirk did the same" attempt is falling to pieces.

And it’s not like he had a ton of help. In 15 years, he played with only four All-Stars: Jason Kidd (2010), Josh Howard (2007), Steve Nash (2002 and 2003) and Michael Finley (2000 and 2001). Amazing but true: Dirk never played with a Hall of Famer in that Hall of Famer’s prime.

Roughly the same for Melo, certainly the same on the HOFer in his prime front.  Dirk got Kidd and Nash, but Melo got two years with Iverson (even if that experiment didn't really work out).  Melo also has played with several Michael Finley/Josh Howard type players, including Billups, Marcus Camby, NeNe, and Ty Lawson.

During Dirk’s decade-long peak (2002 through 2011), he averaged 24.5 points and 8.8 rebounds and came damned close to creating the 10-Year 50-40-90 Club (48% FG, 39% 3FG, 89% FT). 

Melo can't come close to touching those shooting numbers--for his eleven year career, he's at 45-35-81.

His career PER (23.48) ranks 19th all time, just behind Doc (23.58) and Bird (23.5) and just ahead of Kobe (23.36). 

Melo's career PER is 21.17, 42nd all time, sandwiched between Alonzo Mourning and Clyde Drexler.

And he was an absolutely phenomenal playoff performer: 25.6 PPG (12th all time), 24.2 PER (12th), 22.6 win shares (16th), stellar 46-37-89% splits in 135 games, and a couple of epic multigame hot streaks in 2006 and 2011. 

I described Melo's playoff mediocrity last post, but let's add in here that his career playoff PER is 19.94, 44th overall.

Along with Pettit, Hakeem and Elgin, he’s one of four players in the shot-clock era who averaged 25 and 10 in the playoffs. 

Melo has averaged 26 and 7, but he's need to shoot a shitload to get those 26.

And he’s an underrated leader, 

Lol Melo

a famously fantastic locker-room guy, 

Lol Melo

an insanely hard worker and someone who, by all accounts, everyone loved playing with at every point of his career.

I've never heard anything to the contrary about Melo, but I've never really heard anything similar either.

That’s why I dislike comparing Carmelo and Dirk. 

You should, because Melo isn't Dirk, and on the scale of superstars, he's not even close.

But I keep coming back to these two playoff lines:

2011 Dirk (21 games): 27.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 49-46-94%, 8.9 FTA, 25.2 PER
2009 Melo (16 games): 27.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 45-36-83%, 9.0 FTA, 24.3 PER

It’s not THAT far off, right? 

And this, ladies and germs, is all the proof you need that Bill Simmons's writing method is pretty much "Come up with idea (usually one that adheres to my already existing beliefs about the subject matter in question), write column, ignore evidence that contradicts idea, find shreds of evidence that kind of sort of make idea look non-horrible, pimp them with idiotic rhetorical questions, profit."  Seriously, we've just run down how much better (especially in the playoffs) Dirk is than Melo.  And then, in an effort to get this train wreck back on the tracks, he throws out Melo's best playoff performance (both in terms of how far his team went, and in PER), runs it up against Dirk's performance during the Mavs' title run (which is not Dirk's best playoff performance; that came in 2010 (28.4 PER in 10 games) or if you want a larger set of games, 2006 (26.8 in 23 games), and then moves on.  Fucking unbelievable, this guy.  What a fucking chode.

The 2009 Nuggets were Carmelo’s best team; they fell to Kobe’s Lakers in Round 3 with a poor man’s version of the 2011 Mavs. 

And this is where it gets pretty fucking good.  Yes, yes please.  Let's do a rundown of the 2008-2009 Nuggets (54-28) against the 2010-2011 Mavericks (57-25).  Let's look at all those items he listed at the beginning of this post and see how they stack up.

George Karl wasn’t Carlisle. 

Oh, the George Karl with a longer track record than Carlisle, a better regular season winning percentage, and a slightly worse playoff winning percentage?  Carlisle is "spectacular" but a guy with 1100+ career wins, who's never coached anyone better than young Gary Payton, young Ray Allen or young Carmelo doesn't stack up?  Cool.

Nene and Kenyon Martin couldn’t protect the rim like Chandler. 

This is very true, but what they brought in offense probably makes up for what they didn't have in terms of rim protection.

They didn’t have a perimeter defender anywhere close to Marion’s caliber. 

First of all, this isn't true, as Dahntay Jones is a different kind of perimeter defender but probably on balance about as good as Marion.  Second of all, the defense (both individual defense, and the ability to coordinate team defense) brought by Billups to that 2009 Nuggets team puts what 37 year old Jason Kidd was doing on the defensive end for the 2011 Mavericks to shame.

They couldn’t shoot 3s nearly as well (only 31 percent for that Lakers series). 

Good try, doofus.  Enough with your shitspeck-sized samples.  The 2008-2009 Nuggets were a better regular season 3FG% team than the 2010-2011 Mavericks (roughly 36% to 34%) and even with that shitty performance against the Lakers, shot 38.3% for the playoffs.  The Mavs shot 39.4% during their title run.  This is 100% wrong.  The Nuggets were a BETTER 3FG% team than the Mavs.  

They relied way too heavily on J.R. Smith, who imploded against Kobe and got outscored 204 points to 76 points. 

OK, for this one, I have no counterargument, other than to say Smith was the Nuggets' version of Terry, just not as good.  He averaged 14/3/3 while shooting 44%; Terry went for 17/2/3 while shooting 48%.  And yes, Kobe went off against the Nuggets.  He's Kobe.  

Their bench consisted of Dahntay Jones, Linas Kleiza, Chris Andersen and Anthony Carter, or, as it’s better known, the Pu Pu Platter Deluxe. 

OH GOD ANOTHER PU PU PLATTER JOKE.  NEVER GETS OLD.  Their bench also included JR Smith, who you'd think Bill wouldn't be able to completely forget about in the span of one sentence, but here we are.  Meanwhile, beyond Terry, the 2011 Mavericks playoff bench featured Jose Barea, "the corpse of" (LOLOLOL!!!!) Peja Stojakovic, and Brendan Haywood, which is pretty fucking pu pu platterish itself.  But why let facts get in the way of a narrative.  Full speed ahead!!!

And Melo’s best teammate, Chauncey Billups, played two great rounds before turning into a human icicle against the Lakers (39.7% FG, 33.3% 3FG).

Meanwhile, Melo shot 48% overall and 45% (!) from three during the first two rounds of the playoffs, then turned into a human icicle against the Lakers (40.8% FG, 25% 3FG).  You know, you'd think that if you were trying to figure out why the 2009 Nuggets didn't get past the Lakers, you'd want to see how their best player played in that series.  But I guess since we started with the thesis that Melo got let down by his teammates, we don't have time to do that.  Too bad.



More later.


Anonymous said...

Solid job so far, B.

It must be hard being a Nuggets fan and having to explain the greatness of George Karl.

jacktotherack said...

Doc Rivers = Doc
Julius Erving = Dr. J

Simmons is the only fucker I've ever seen refer to Dr. J as "Doc" and it was pissing me off the whole time I read this.


The root problem here is Simmons' idiotic "championship or bust" philosophy. He constantly mocked the Johnson/Smith/Horford Hawks, because "durr, they only made the second round". What did they REALLY accomplish except reviving a moribund franchise, being fun to watch, and selling a bunch of tickets? You won't be hearing about them in THE SPORTS BOOK TO END ALL SPORTS BOOKS.

I bring this up because there's no shame in building a mid-tier playoff team around Melo, whether or not you're hoping to luck into a second star player because you're New York. But he can't come out and state the obvious because he has to qualify everything in absolutes.

sportsguy33 said...

Beginning to lose my patience waiting for part 3 of this masterpiece ! :) Upload it already :)