Carmelo Anthony

All-Stars and a Wizards Update

Before I get to the weekly Wizards update, I want to take a quick look at All-Stars through the prism of Player Production Average (PPA) — an overall rating system I developed. PPA credits players for things that contribute to winning and debits them for things that don’t — each in proper proportion. PPA is pace adjusted, accounts for defense and includes a degree of difficulty factor. In PPA, 100 = average, higher is better and 45 = replacement level.

As usual, fan voting doesn’t correlate well with my metric or with what causes teams to win. I’m not one to complain much about that reality — the fan vote is a popularity contest, not a referendum on who’s best. The top vote-getter typically appears on about a quarter of all ballots cast. I first noted this phenomenon with Michael Jordan, who regularly collected the most All-Star votes. Going by All-Star voting, roughly 75% of NBA fans each year thought Jordan (wildly popular and widely considered the best player in the game — if not all time) didn’t deserve to be an All-Star.

Anyway, I’ll present the list in two ways: the first using PPA, which is a per minute metric; the second using total production (which could weed out guys who missed time due to injury).

G Kyle Lowry Chris Paul
G Dwyane Wade Stephen Curry
F Lebron James Kevin Durant
F Paul George Kevin Love
F Andre Drummond Anthony Davis
G John Wall Mike Conley
G Lance Stephenson Goran Dragic
F Brook Lopez Dirk Nowitzki
F Al Horford DeMarcus Cousins
F Joakim Noah Tim Duncan
G Kyle Korver Ty Lawson
F Carmelo Anthony LaMarcus Aldridge

The quality imbalance between the conferences is evident in these lists. Carmelo Anthony takes the East’s final frontcourt slot while ranking just 21st among all frontcourt players league-wide. The Wizards only All-Star, John Wall, rates as the East’s third most productive guard per minute, but ranks just 16th in the league (minimum 500 total minutes).

Here’s the “totals” list:

G Kyle Lowry Chris Paul
G John Wall Stephen Curry
F Lebron James Kevin Durant
F Paul George Kevin Love
F Andre Drummond LaMarcus Aldridge
G Kemba Walker Damian Lillard
G Aaron Afflalo Wesley Matthews
F Carmelo Anthony Blake Griffin
F Joakim Noah DeAndre Jordan
F Paul Millsap Anthony Davis
G Lance Stephenson James Harden
F Chris Bosh Dirk Nowitzki

Probably the biggest surprise for me was Kemba Walker. He hasn’t impressed me much, but he’s an above average producer on a per minute basis and he plays a lot of minutes. Notice Brook Lopez and Al Horford dropping off the list in the East — their total production is down because of injury. DeAndre Jordan is another mild surprise. It’s easy to focus on his limitations, which are abundant. However, Jordan rebounds, blocks shots, and limits his offensive repertoire to things he can do well: dunks, layups, put-backs and setting screens.

Moving on from All-Stars, let’s talk Wizards. (See what I did there?)

John Wall 40 36.9 140 147
Trevor Ariza 35 34.6 144 144
Trevor Booker 31 21.4 137 137
Marcin Gortat 40 32.1 132 135
Martell Webster 39 30.4 109 105
Nenê Hilario 33 29.3 107 102
Bradley Beal 31 33.1 73 84
Jan Vesely 28 16.0 73 72
Chris Singleton 14 10.6 64 60
Kevin Seraphin 28 10.1 12 20
Glen Rice 11 9.9 18 18
Eric Maynor 22 9.5 13 13
Al Harrington 7 18.6 7 7
Garrett Temple 38 11.2 2 6
Otto Porter 19 9.7 15 3

It’s largely status quo, which is normal at this point in the season. Players have established their performance levels for the most part so I don’t expect to see major changes week to week. Any large changes are going to show up in lower minute players for whom a one-week sample size can still be significant.

Improvers this week include Wall, Beal, and Seraphin — the big Frenchman upped his production for a fourth consecutive update. Temple also did a little better, but still has been less productive this season than even Maynor.

On the downside were Webster, Nenê, and Porter. Nenê is interesting and worth further analysis. The team continues to be better when he’s on the floor even as his personal production slides.

Now for the shameless plug: check out the FREE first chapter of my mystery novel set for publication later this month. 


No, The Wizards Should Not Sign Carmelo Anthony


Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks

Over at Yahoo!, Drexel Perry hypothesizes that Washington could be a free agent destination for Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. Unfortunately, it’s a bad idea for the Wizards, and it’s highly unrealistic.

Why would it be a bad move for the Wizards? Simple: Anthony may be the game’s most overrated player. He continues to be touted as a superstar, but as I’ve written elsewhere, he’s more of a media star and fan favorite than a win producer. Folks believe Anthony is a star because he scores a TON of points. And, he scores a ton of points because he shoots a lot.

So yeah, Anthony is a big time scorer. But, his efficiency is only okay, in part because he seems to believe extra points get awarded for attempting difficult shots. (Note: they’re not.) For a more in-depth look at Anthony’s scoring, click here to jump to a piece I wrote at my old blog.

While Anthony does score a lot, scoring in only one aspect of what wins and loses basketball games. When looked at through the lens of a measure that accounts for a player’s overall effect on his team’s ability to win or lose, Anthony rates as a good — but NOT elite — player.

In Player Production Average (PPA)*, MVP candidates typically score solidly over 200 (where 100 = average and higher is better). All-NBA candidates usually rate 160 or better. Anthony’s best season (last year) rates a 162. That’s good, but not elite, and not worth the $20+ million salary he’s getting now, and definitely not worth the $22 million Perry suggests the Wizards offer.

* PPA is a stat I developed to account for what causes winning and losing. It’s pace neutral, includes defense, and has a degree of difficulty factor based on the level of competition a player faces.

Perry’s analysis of the team’s hypothetical on-court workings is okay. A small-ball approach could work — Anthony just had the best season of his career playing mostly at PF. Nene could (at least in theory) play center. Otto Porter projects to be a good NBA small forward. For my tastes, Perry should have given more (some?) attention to the reality that both Anthony and John Wall are ball-dominant. Wall, of course, is a willing passer. Anthony — not so much.

The other big problem is counting on an aging Nene at center. Fact is, the big Brazilian is in the “expensive decline” phase of his career — witness him talking about “pushing through” soreness after the team’s second pre-season game. Anthony would also turn 30 before the 2014 season begins, which means the Wizards would (once again) be purchasing the wrong end of a player’s career.

But all of the forgoing is largely beside the point for a simple reason: despite Perry’s assertions, the Wizards will not have the cap space to sign Anthony. Writes Perry:

The money that currently counts against the salary cap occupied by Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor could simply be used to bring Anthony to Washington in 2014.

Ariza and Okafor combined cap dollars of approximately $22 million will come off the books next summer. That could easily be enough to lure Anthony to Washington. By becoming a free agent, Melo’s already taking a discount because only New York can offer him a max five-year deal for $129 million.

So Washington’s potential offer could be in the neighborhood of what teams other than the Knicks can bring to the negotiating table.

But no — this is simply erroneous. The Wizards are over the salary cap. They don’t get to just plug a new salary into the combined slots of departing players — they have to fit new salaries under the cap. If Washington lets Okafor, Ariza, Vesely, Booker, Seraphin and Singleton depart, they’d have total salary of $43.9 million vs. a cap of roughly $59 million.

The picture isn’t even that rosy, however. They’d still need to account for their first round pick, as well as cap holds for empty salary slots. To pay Anthony $22 million, they’d need the Knicks to cooperate in a sign and trade, or they’d need to dump another $8-9 million in salary. Not gonna happen.

So, forget about Anthony. He’s overrated, brutally expensive, and will be on the wrong side of 30 by the time he’s even the remotest of possibilities. And, the Wizards don’t have the cap space or the resources to acquire him without detonating long-term assets.