Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 4 of 4 OH MY GOD IT'S FINALLY DONE)

We're on the homestretch.  We're gonna make it.  Keep that head down and power through.  Next time, I'll cover whatever article I'm going after in less than two months.  By the way, anyone have any requests/recommendations?  Leave them in the comments.

So where were we?  Ah, yes, FACTS.  Indisputable FACTS about Carmelo's career, such as "He looked cooler with the cornrows" and "He is the 47th best player of all time."

9. Carmelo is averaging 25.3 points for his entire career. Only 13 players averaged at least 25 points, and only 10 have a higher average than Melo: Jordan (30.1), Wilt (30.1), LeBron (27.5), Durant (27.4), Elgin (27.4), West (27.0), Iverson (26.7), Pettit (26.4), Oscar (25.7) and Kobe (25.5). Yes, that’s a list with six Hall of Famers and four future Hall of Famers.

He is a great scorer, no doubt about it, although he was buoyed somewhat by playing on a lot of high-flying fast-breaking Denver teams.  Then again, he has kept his scoring up on some shitty Knicks teams.  While being unable to get them to the playoffs in a terrible division in a terrible conference.  Still, he is a great scorer.  He's a virtual lock to be a HOFer one day, and I'm fine with that.  What I'm not fine with is Bill's insistence that this clown could ever be the best player on a championship team.

10. He averaged 20 points or more for each of his first 11 seasons. Only 11 other players accomplished that: Jordan, Wilt, Kareem, LeBron, Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing, Iverson, Pettit, Barry and Erving. Nine Hall of Famers, three future Hall of Famers.

Yep.  He's a great scorer.  Perhaps even elite.  ONE OF THE MOST DYNAMIC SCORERS IN THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION.  A FACTOR FORWARD.  Joe Flacco : QBs :: Carmelo : scorers.

11. He’s one of 10 players to score 62 points or more in an NBA game.

OK, how many different ways are you going to say he's a great scorer?  We fucking get it.  Also, nice cutoff at 62 there, so as to not include Agent Zero and Tom Chambers (both of whom have scored 60 but not 62).  Since July 2nd, 2006...

12. If you’re thinking about him historically, he’s never getting to the Bird-LeBron-Barry level for small forwards. All three were true superstars. But he’s right up there with anyone else. Check out the first 11 seasons of five superb small forwards: Dominique Wilkins, Adrian Dantley, Melo, Paul Pierce and Bernard King.

Hey, glad you brought this up!  You know what Melo has in common with all those guys?  You couldn't win a championship with any of them as your best player.

[Big list of stats showing how Melo is basically in the neighborhood with all those guys, both in the regular season and in the playoffs]

You couldn’t have pulled a 2011 Mavs with ’Nique (the most exciting of the group), 

Made it out of the first round three times in his career, and never further.

Pierce (the most durable and the best two-way player) 

In seven seasons before teaming up with KG and Allen, missed the playoffs three times, was bounced in the first round twice, the second round once, and made one conference finals while playing alongside Antoine Walker.  Actually a pretty good track record, when compared against the rest of these guys.

or Dantley (the most unconventional); 

Had a pretty terrible record of reaching/winning in the playoffs throughout his career, with the exception of his two full seasons in Detroit, when the Pistons lost in the conference finals in seven and then the NBA Finals in seven.  But of course, those were Isiah Thomas's teams, so the "as your best player" argument clearly does not apply.

none of those three was quite overpowering enough, even if each could have been an overqualified second banana on a title team. (And in 2008, Pierce was.) 

They needed seven games in each of the first three rounds and six in the Finals.  I know Bill loves Pierce more than he loves anything in the world besides Larry Bird and Tom Brady, but I wouldn't exactly call Pierce "overqualified" to be the second best player on that team.  If he even was the second best player on that team.

Bernard doubled as the most frightening non-Jordan scorer I’ve ever seen in my life —

Bill has been singing the praises of King for years, always using him as his main Carmelo comparison (which is not unfair or anything--it's just a little old at this point).  Ever wondered why he keeps honing in on King?  If so, you haven't been reading Simmons for very long.  Here it is:

he took the 1984 Celts to a Game 7 by himself, for God’s sake.

Yes, that's right.  King had a great series against the LEGENDARY BASKETBALL RED SAWX.  That's it.  That's why Bill's casual readers who don't really care about the NBA still know about this great-but-not-legendary guy from the 80s who was felled by an untimely injury and traded three times.  If that series never happens, if King has the same career but never crosses paths with the Celtics in the playoffs, Bill writes a quick couple of paragraphs about him in The Book of Basketball as a "Level 1 guy," somewhere in the top 80 all time or so, and that's the extent of Bill's analysis.  Instead he's ranked in the 50s and he SHOWED INCREDIBLE FORTITUDE IN BOWING BEFORE LARRY LEGEND AND HIS TEAM OF DEMIGODS.

My team threw Kevin McHale (the NBA’s best defender at the time) and Cedric Maxwell at him, with Bird helping and Robert Parish protecting the rim, and it just didn’t matter. 1984 Playoff Bernard ascended into that Bird-Elgin-Barry group, then remained there until he blew out his knee 10 months later.

I can see Bill reading that after writing it, and trying to figure out how to use it as an excuse to bring up Len Bias.

Carmelo? He’s 92 percent as frightening as 1984 Playoff Bernard was. 


He’s just playing in a more difficult league — better scouting, better game planning, better defenses, better athletes, better everything.

This line of argument is usually pretty dumb when applied to any professional sport, with the exception of cases when we're talking about pre- and post- racial integration.  It assumes that Carmelo himself would be exactly the same player he is now if he played in the days of worse scouting, game planning, defenses, athletes, everything, rather than being dragged down with his competition due to the different environment of the day.  Also, there are more teams now, which dilutes the overall talent across the league.

In 1984, Carmelo would have been single-teamed by the likes of Dantley and Kelly Tripucka and Mark Aguirre, night after night after night, and would have torched absolutely everybody. He would have averaged 34 per game like Bernard did during the 1984-85 season. 

I doubt it.

By the way, this is coming from someone who REVERED Bernard.


13. Just for fun, the best two-year regular-season runs for Bernard, ‘Nique Wilkins, Dirk and Carmelo:

• King (1984-85): 29.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 55-07-78%, 23.8 PER, 35.8 mpg, 31.5 usage
• ’Nique (1986-87): 29.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 47-25-82%, 23.4 PER, 38.3 mpg, 32.6 usage
• Dirk (2006-07): 25.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 49-41-90%, 27.8 PER, 37.2 mpg, 29.5 usage
• Melo (2013-14): 28.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, 45-39-84%, 24.6 PER, 37.9 mpg, 33.9 usage

That's a good little list supporting the idea that you can win a title with Dirk as your best player, but not with King, Wilkins or Melo as your best player.  Thanks Bill.

14. You realize that Carmelo is better right now than he’s ever been, right?

• Years 1-2: 20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 43-30-79%, 17.2 PER, 35.7 mpg, 28.8 usage, .094 WS/48
• Years 3-9: 25.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 46-33-81%, 21.4 PER, 36.3 mpg, 32.0 usage, .140 WS/48
• Years 10-11: 28.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 45-39-84%, 24.6 PER, 37.9 mpg, 33.9 usage, .177 WS/48

No argument with that.  But he's still not getting you a title without a teammate who's better than he is.

As his offensive workload has increased, he’s figured out how to become even MORE efficient by expanding his shooting range to 25 feet … only he’s never stopped getting to the free throw line, either.

• Years 1-2 (attempts): 14.8 2s (44.9%), 2.4 3s (29.9%) and 7.0 FT’s (78.7%)
• Years 3-9 (attempts): 17.3 2s (48.5%), 2.6 3s (32.9%) and 8.0 FT’s (81.1%)
• Years 10-11 (attempts): 16.0 2s (47.2%), 5.8 3s (39.1%) and 7.3 FT’s (84.0%)

I'm turning into a broken record here, but I'm still feeling great about my overall argument, which is nice.

/Larry B pushes glasses further up on nose while blogging in parents' basement

And you know what else? Carmelo never received enough credit for playing efficiently as a hybrid small forward/stretch 4, especially last season, when he was saddled with the NBA’s worst starting point guard (Felton, a complete zero on both ends); J.R. Smith’s abominable start (first 29 games: 11.3 PPG, 35% FG); Chandler’s lousy-for-him season (he quietly mailed in more games than anybody); the washed-up trifecta of Amar’e, K-Mart and Metta World Peace; some unforgettably awful coaching from Mike Woodson; and nothing from Andrea Bargnani other than this hysterical YouTube clip.

I'll agree that he deserved more credit last year than finishing outside the top 10 in MVP voting.  I won't agree with Bill's implication, or the implication of some of you commenters (with whom I must respectfully disagree) that he's some kind of underrated player overall at this point.  I don't care how bad the Knicks were last year--the whole Eastern conference outside of Indiana and Miami was an orphanage fire.  A Wizards team that won 29 games in 2012-2013 did nothing but add Marcin Gortat and suddenly won 44 and became a conference semifinalist.  A Hawks team that won 38 games and gave 70+ starts and 30+ MPG to both Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll made the fucking playoffs.  I don't care if Carmelo was playing with nothing but D-League teammates.  If he was really as good an overall player as Bill/the commenters are making him out to be, the Knicks would have made the playoffs.

That pathetic Knicks team didn’t employ a single creator who could get Melo wide-open jumpers off slash-and-kick drives.

The Nuggets employed creators who could do that for nearly his entire career in Denver.  Didn't make much of a difference in terms of overall results.

They couldn’t get him any fast-break points because nobody on the team could run a freaking fast break. So what’s left? Just a slew of possessions, one after the other, with everyone standing around waiting for Carmelo to do something. They were like the pickup team from hell, only Carmelo couldn’t just throw the game and hop on someone else’s team.

They were pretty bad.  But the only meaningful difference in personnel between this team and the one that won 54 games in 2012-2013 was the departure of old-as-shit Jason Kidd.  At what point does their 17 game falloff start to become the fault of the best player on the team?  "Just a slew of possessions, one after the other, with everyone standing around waiting for Carmelo to do something."  Hmmm.  Which came first, the teammates standing around doing nothing, or the shoot-first ballstopper holding the ball for extended periods of time and not even thinking about creating any offense other than that which ends with him taking a shot?  Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Stoudemire are pretty crappy, but they at least all are guys who can still score at a respectable rate.  Maybe, just maybe, the fact that this team was terrible in part comes back to the guy with the 30% usage rate, no?

Everyone bitched about his “ball-stopping” — 

I sure did!

something of which he’s definitely been guilty, from time to time, over the past few years — 

He's been guilty of it most of the time he's been in the NBA, except when Chauncey Billups grabbed him by the ear during timeouts and made him stop for subsequent short periods of time.

but when your coach is in a basketball coma and your entire offense has degenerated into “throw the ball to Melo and he’ll have to create a shot,” what do you expect? 

Mike Woodson is a doofus.  Doesn't change my argument or my chicken/egg argument.  Still feeling good about all of this.

Every opponent went into every Knicks game saying, “As long as we don’t let Carmelo kill us, we’re winning tonight.” And he still threw up 28 a night and played the most efficient basketball of his career. That’s a fact. It just wasn’t that much fun to watch.

He was a great, great scorer.  He wasn't a good enough player to drag his below average team to 38 wins.

15. Melo is the same person as Olympic Melo — the devastating shooter who shows up every two years for international competition and makes open 3 after open 3 like he’s playing a pop-a-shot game. I love Olympic Melo. So do you.

Sure.  No argument here.

If you think of him like a Hall of Fame wide receiver — 

Which you never should, because that's fucking dumb--

say, Larry Fitzgerald — 


Carmelo’s career makes more sense. Fitz tossed up monster stats with Kurt Warner throwing to him. Once the likes of John Skelton and Kevin Kolb started passing through his life, he wasn’t throwing up monster stats anymore. But nobody ever stopped believing Fitz was great. We made excuses for him that weren’t even excuses.

In case you needed further proof that Bill knows exactly jack diddley fuckall about sports, there you go.

Poor Fitz. We need to find him a QB. What a shame. What a waste of a great talent. He’s losing his prime and he’s never gonna get it back.

Small forward : wide receiver :: monster truck : hula hoop

Why didn’t we ever feel sorry for Carmelo? It’s simple — he placed himself in this situation. 

I'm not sure people didn't feel sorry for him last year.  Still, to the extent they didn't, at least Bill is right about this.

He could have waited until the summer of 2011, opted out of his first Nuggets extension and signed with New York as a free agent. Instead, his agents forced a midseason trade that kept his previous contract in place (more money, more leverage). 

Well, he and his agents were also too dumb to play happy in Denver for the whole 2010-2011 season and then get out when the getting was good.  He pouted through that season and wasn't able to properly lie to the media about the situation (something any superstar athlete should be able to do), which turned into a feedback loop of pouting and unhappiness and caused the Nuggets to ship him out before he could opt out.  It's his agents' "fault," but it's his too, for not playing the situation correctly.

Here’s what that extra money effectively cost them (and Carmelo): Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, their 2014 first-round pick (turned out to be 11th overall), and a first-round pick swap in 2016. Four super-tradable assets … out the window.

Yep, the Nuggets won that trade.  At least I don't have to be bitter about that while I'm busy being bitter about Carmelo generally.

A few other players were involved, including Felton and Timofey Mozgov (sent to Denver) 

Perhaps not a great asset at the time, but has turned into a very decent player.

and Billups (sent to New York). 

That was the sad part.  Leave it to Carmelo to ruin the end of the Denver professional career of the only notable NBA player to ever either grow up in Denver or play his college ball at Colorado.  Thanks, Melo.

And that’s where this deal gets darker. After the 2011 lockout ended, the Knicks used their amnesty on Billups solely to create cap room to sign Tyson Chandler. When Amar’e degenerated into The Artist Formerly Known As Amar’e two seasons ago, they didn’t have an amnesty left to snuff out his remaining $40 million. Whoops. Unable to improve their roster last summer, they stumbled into the comically bad Bargnani trade. This summer, they couldn’t sign any impact players.

All of this is true.  And as Bill already said, Carmelo is a proximate cause of it, with his inability to wait until the summer of 2011 to get to NYC.  At least LaLa was probably happy about the timing of the move.

All in all, that was a catastrophic trade considering Denver didn’t have any leverage whatsoever. 

Smiley emoticon

And it happened because Carmelo wanted more money — the same choice he made last weekend, again, and the same choice you and I would probably make too. 

Perhaps--there's no way of knowing how I would respond to the chance at winning a title while making a gajillion dollars versus being on a shit team while making a gajillion dollars plus fifteen percent more.  But the least he could do is not say dumb horseshit like "I'm all about championships" or whatever that dumb sound bite he gave back in June was.  What a dolt.

Carmelo inadvertently created the narrative that threatens to defines him. 

Oh no, his actions were quite deliberate.  Let's not think of him as a victim here.

There’s a good chance he will play his entire career, then retire, without ever finding the right team. Unless the Knicks miraculously strike oil next summer, his own version of the 2011 Mavericks can’t happen. 

It already did, in 2009, and he couldn't get past a very good Lakers team.  Dirk got past a Heat team that was almost certainly better than that Lakers team.  QED.

His prime will come and go, and that will be that.


There was an alternate universe here — Chicago, for less money, for a chance to become Olympic Melo for nine months per year. He would have been flanked by Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, Kirk Hinrich and a top-five coach (Tom Thibodeau). He would have found his 2011 Mavs. 

Sort of, except that he wouldn't have been the 2011 Dirk on that team, because Rose would be the best player (or so we would have thought when Melo signed; obviously that is in doubt now) and Noah has suddenly turned into a force of nature, like Chandler was for the 2011 Mavs, but way better.

He would have played on a 60-win team, been the crunch-time guy on a title favorite, reminded everyone how terrific he was over and over again. Thirty years from now, long after he has retired and hopefully spent his more than $300 million nest egg wisely, Carmelo will be sitting on the porch of one of his nine houses, nursing a drink, staring out at an ocean and thinking about the unknown. Should he have picked Chicago? How much money is enough money? What’s the price of peace? What would it have been worth to know — to really, truly know? Was he good enough? Could he have gotten there? Did he have it in him?

Hopefully Bill does the same thing, and spends four seconds thinking about it before coming to the conclusion that he was really just one lucky son of a bitch with great timing and an appreciation for low culture that most of America's college students and stupid middle managers share with him.

Instead, he’ll have to settle for people like me: the ones maintaining that he WAS good enough, only it’s an opinion and not a fact. 

Noooo!  Don't give up the "my opinions are actually facts" fight!  It's all you've got!

In A Bronx Tale, 

Finally, the reference to a twenty year old movie you've all been waiting for.

Sonny famously tells Calogero that “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Well, what happens if you didn’t waste your talent, but it kind of got wasted anyway? Welcome to Carmelo Anthony’s world. What if, what if, what if.

What if Bill didn't shoehorn movie quotes into his verbose, shitty writing?  What if?  Oh that's right.  It would still be verbose and shitty.  What an asshole.

We made it!  High five your computer screen!  Yeah!  Teamwork!


Venezuelan Beaver Cheese said...

I've been reading FireJay long enough that I got that reference to July 2, 2006. For what it's worth, it made at least one person laugh.

Larry B said...

We do it for the readers.


Good point about Bernard King.

If only Patrick Ewing had lost gracefully to the Celtics, instead of daring to eviscerate them in the '90 playoffs, maybe he wouldn't have inspired a decade of inane bullshit about how a team losing its best player is actually a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Kyle Korver is actually really good, and Atlanta was successful in part because of him, and not in spite.


Anonymous said...

You wear glasses and root for Denver teams?

Tyler said...

Can someone explain the July 2, 2006 joke for a relative noob?

jacktotherack said...

@first Anonymous

Kyle Korver is really good as a niche player, preferably a sharp-shooter as a 6th man for a contending team. If he is being relied upon to be a starter every night then you are talking about a team without a ton of talent, kind of like the Hawks.

Venezuelan Beaver Cheese said...


Jay Mariotti inexplicably used to reference July 2, 2006 as the date when the White Sox began to decline, though there was nothing particularly noteworthy about that date. The whole thing remains a mystery that perhaps only Mariotti himself could explain.

Larry B said...

Thank you jacktotherack and VBC. Good to know I'm not needed in my own comment section. I'll go back to lurking.

6:51 Anonymous: mayyyyyyybe. Except the glasses part.

Anonymous said...

I like how Bill again uses the "he's losing his prime and not getting it back" as he did earlier in this article. "He is getting older and, guess what, he's not getting any younger!"