Carmelo Anthony’s assist numbers are not the problem

Harris Decker

J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond FeltonI’m a stats guy. SNY’s Moke Hamilton and I debate it constantly. Can you pick a roster based on stats? Does the eyeball test always outweigh the stats test? We can debate these things to the ends of the earth but I’ll always be the way I am. I’m moneyball. I’m all about on base percentage in baseball (a leading stat for moneyball general managers). I love my stats and love breaking them down.

Carmelo Anthony has gotten a bad wrap for being a shoot first, pass second type of player. I wouldn’t contend that this isn’t the case. Anthony is a scorer. He’s not LeBron James. But, his assist numbers have been distorted by a number of things outside of his control.

SportsVU is a company that tracks things that ESPN, Yahoo and the like do not track. They track statistics that are far deeper and more telling than those you’d get from a box score. The statistic that stood out to me was one they call “Assist Opportunities Per Game.” They define this as “Passes by a player to a teammate in which the teammate attempts a shot and if made would be an assist.”

Of course this is abstract. It’s measuring something that the NBA has never measured and doing it in a very specific manner. Still, these stats exist and are accurate according to SportsVU. Assist Opportunities Per Game can measure how good a passer is on a bad team. After all, it’s not Anthony’s fault if Iman Shumpert misses a shot. It says more about the quality of the team around the player than the player himself.

According to SportsVU, Anthony has registered 6.5 assist opportunities per game in 2013, averaging just 2.8 assists overall. So that means in every game, there are up to 4 shots that if converted, would lead to a greater assist total for Anthony. The Knicks are converting 43% of Anthony’s passes into shots. If we compare that number to the gold standard of Lebron James, the numbers are staggering. The Heat convert 57% of James’ passes into baskets.

What does it all mean? Is it that James is making better passes than Anthony? Maybe. Is it that Ray Allen, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh convert more opportunities than J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler? Maybe. What it does mean is that Anthony does try to get his teammates involved. He’s always going to be a score first type of player but if the Knicks start converting more opportunities, Anthony could see a definite spike in his assist numbers.




43 comments
donche
donche

That's the problem with him forcing his hand to be traded here..and unlike mos I don't blame Melo I blame us for falling for it. Gallo/Wilson/Mozgov along wit our rosters would give a better framework to provide help along with the draft picks we wouldn't of traded....imagine if we could of drafted Marcus Smart in June with Iman/Gallo/Melo/Tyson...we had a good brand of role players and picks but traded them for a franchise piece but unless u have 2 franchise guys...u need a great supporting cast to win games

C0P0
C0P0

Anyone who is actually watching, could tell you Melo's been passing. 

He's simply doesn't have enough help and enough consistent help.

His haters will say otherwise, but that's what haters do, hate. LOL

Ronnie Samuel
Ronnie Samuel

This is an oversimplification if I've ever seen one ... Does Lebron have a better supporting cast ? Absolutely. Is that the only reason his assist numbers are higher ? Absolutely not. Lebron didn't always play in Miami, when he was in Cleveland he still put up better assist numbers. The fact is Lebron passes the ball and it's not the first pass that ends in the assist, it's the second pass or the third. A typical Knicks possession is walk the ball down , throw it in to melo and watch him do his thing. He doesn't move without the basketball, he doesn't facilitate the offense, he just stops the basketball and either shoots or passes with less than 7 on the clock which doesn't result in good shot attempts.

Kvdaone
Kvdaone

Ive been havin this convo with numerous numbskulls! Melo gets a bad rep for not passing but if you watch the games you know better. We have become a nation of stat fiends, metric and non metric. He cant get thee ast unless his teammate makes the bucket. What i will agree to is this, he doesnt have a set up artist skills as of yet but this season has forced his hand lol

tommy2b
tommy2b

Melo is a grandmaster at his craft.  Leave him alone.

wingo43
wingo43

Sabermetrics do not lend themselves to basketball like they do to baseball.  Too many other variables taking place at the same time. 


Melo holds on to the ball too long too often.  

ponzies86
ponzies86

Thank you god! for this!!! now the Melo haters can finally STFU!!!

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

One of the better posts we've had on TKB in a while. I actually read all of it ;-). Great conversation starter.

Chris
Chris

Harris your post is very good. However what it shows is the lack of Basketball acumen that the bloggers have . The logic and thinking processes of many of the posters on this site leave me wondering if they actually watch the games, and if they do have they ever played the game. Put Melo on the heat in place of LeBron and watch his assist ratio go way up. If you go through the Knicks lineup matching to the Heat, you see how smart Reils is and how dumb we are. They got Mario and Norris, we got Ray and Beno

knickster
knickster

Pure nonsense by Harris, a guy who knows very little about basketball from the inane points he makes trying to prove....what?

Everyone knows perfectly well that Carmelo Anthony is a great - but very inefficient - scorer. He gets the ball and the team suffers because he won't pass it back most of the time.

Is there a statistic that measures how many times a player passes the ball back in order to generate better opportunities for teammates? NOT EVERY PASS IS INTENDED TO BE AN ASSIST. That's where Melo fails and that's what his apologists conveniently overlook.

What about the fact that Carmelo Does NOT shoot much better that the team combined? What would Guys like harris make of that?

Bottom line is simple: Carmelo is a specialist. A guy who can score for 3 quarters at a VERY INEFFICIENT rate. His PPG numbers are high because he shoots a lot. Let me put it in a very simple, clear way: if LeBron took as many shots as melo he would average 40 points per game.

Carmelo is what he is: a great scorer and not much else. Can we win a ring with him getting a max salary? Never. Can he be part of a championship team in New York? Only if he is paid what he is worth - far less than a max salary, so that a real solid team can be assembled around him.

Melo is great for the knicks, but under certain conditions.

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

Carmelo game-time decision for Christmas game


Posted Dec 24, 2013 1:59 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Knicks star Carmelo Anthony will be a game-time decision for their Christmas matchup with the Thunder.

Anthony sprained his left ankle in New York's 103-98 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday.

The Knicks will be without at least one starter Wednesday. They said Tuesday that guard Raymond Felton will miss the nationally televised home game against Oklahoma City because of a strained right groin.

Felton was also hurt Monday after returning from a six-game absence caused by a strained left hamstring.

Blaze NYK
Blaze NYK

So I'm gonna say this again.  Knicks need to patient with regards to trades.  I'd be down to trade Felton, MWP, JR...but we should absolutely not be looking to trade Shump, Hardaway or another first round pick unless its part of a deal that brings us a very obvious upgrade.


I'd also hold onto to Chandler, Bargs and even Amare as I believe their trade value will only go up as we get closer to the trade deadline and especially next year.  The management of this team needs to not act like The Knicks in the past and make a rash move.  They need to sit down with Melo and work out a new reasonable max contract.  Convince him to take 5 years at about 18 to 20 million. 


Then, and this is where people are gonna think I'm crazy but unless there is a big trade available with Chandler, I'd look to keep Chandler.  Try to resign him for like 3 years at 7 or 8 million a year.  And then, and now people are really gonna think I'm crazy.  But I'd look to resign Amare for the veteran minimum.  I don't think he'd get much more than that anyways and even though the big 3 with him, Melo and Chandler never really worked out because of his injuries, I believe STAT can now be an effective veteran minimum  guy off the bench if he plays limited minutes.  Kind of like how McDyess found a second career.


Now you build around Melo, Chandler, Shump, Hardaway and STAT off the bench.  JR is starting to heat up.  When he gets hot, you look to trade him for some pieces or picks.  You then trade Bargs either at the trade deadline this year or during the off season to free up cap space.  You're now saving like 18 million off of STAT (but still have him on the bench), you're saving about 6 million with Chandler's new contract and you're getting Melo for about what he's getting paid now.  Oh, and like 8 or 9 million saved when Bargs leaves.  So now you have the ability to sign a nice FA PG or acquire one in a trade.  See, I think we're an elite starting PG away from being a very competitive and good team.  I think Chandler, Melo and yes, STAT, have learned to play decently well together.  I think Hardaway will only improve.  I think Shump will play better if JR wasn't here.  Then you get a good back up Center for Tyson, some good vets to surround this team with, and a good coach...say Jeff Van Gundy, who can get them all to play some defense. 


My point in all this is just that I think its easy to think this team is a disaster, but our long term cap situation is quite decent and if we could convince STAT (if he stays healthy) to come back for the vet minimum and Chandler (again, if healthy) to resign for under 10 million, you've kept some continuity and you've freed up a boat load of cap space (wth Bargs leaving too).  Build around what we have!  But do not make a stupid trade that gets rid of Shump and a draft pick.


If we keep losing and Melo doesn't commit, trade him to The Clippers for Blake. 

Lavone Ramos
Lavone Ramos

This article is not at all accurate, reason Lebron's assist lead to a higher percentage is because they more often than not lead to dunks or layups. Melo's assist opportunist are almost always a long jumpshot because when he drives he is never looking to pass so negating easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. So his almost 3 assist a game is actually a pretty good indicator of his inability to make teammates better since 3 out of 7 opportunities is actually a pretty good 3 point shooting percentage, which negates your point of the failure of his teammates to convert. 

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

The real "assist" problem the Knicks have is the result of our offensive philosophy. Woody's number one concern is to limit turnovers and we lead the league in that stat. That results in a very slow, deliberate attack with minimal safe passing. So what we get is an offense that walks the ball up the court, doesn't look to penetrate, doesn't look to get out in transition, and doesn't look to make risky passes. Woody even has a psychological reinforcer that the Knicks have to run punishment laps when they exceed 13 turnovers.

The result is we get few easy baskets and few trips to the line. Last year when we had better 3 point shooters this worked very well. This year, no, not so well. 

2013-14 We are making 1 more three per game than our opponents and they are getting 8 more free throw attempts.

2012-13 We made 3 more three per game than the other side and they took 1 more free throw attempt.

That is roughly a 7 point swing. We lose 2 points from the threes and our opponents make 5 of the 7 additional free throws.

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

If the Knicks are converting 43% of their shots off Melo passes, it's a fairly neutral number. The Knicks also make 43% of their shots overall. So if you subtract Melo's 45% shooting from the 43%, it does show that the rest of team is slightly better when he passes, given the rest of team shoots below 43%.

ngrant13602
ngrant13602

Good article Harris. I do wonder if basketball calculate assist like hockey. Would the game become more fluent from ball movement?

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

I've always wondered why an assist isn't given when a player attempts a shot and gets fouled. If you make a pass and it results in two free throws being made, it's not much different than a made field goal in the overall scheme of things.

Brad Reiter
Brad Reiter

The other thing to note is that it's not Anthony's fault that his teammates pass to him. When watching a game, the thing you notcie is that he will pass out of a double team, but most of the time the ball ends up back in his hands for a shot. Or he has the second assist (more of a hoceky stat), that starts the scoring chance. Those are stats that aren't counted.

C0P0
C0P0

Mel Brown, Not absolutely appalled by the idea,  but I think guys would tune him out once he hits them with the napoleonic rage machine. LOL


Shumpert, Jr. and Felton could REALLY use a guy with a firm hand and The  Little General is a  tough customer.


Just not one of my Fav coaches.


Perhaps he could get an Asst Coach job under Woodson. Phase one of the overthrow. LOL

Kvdaone
Kvdaone

@wingo43you would to when youre the only starter scoring 10+ night in night out. look at this team and its coaching. Melo should only iso from  the elbow to the post but he doesnt bcuz he gets no screens. Bargs should also have screens. JR, shump and Hardaway jr should slash more.the list goes on but Melos pain as far as winning is real


Chris
Chris

@knickster No actually Harris is correct. If, for example you actually knew how statistics can be perverted and distorted any way we so desire, you would understand at least some of what is being said. Since you actually have no mathematical precepts to be able to comprehend the points being made, you again have shown your ignorance 

Chris
Chris

@Blaze NYK Loved everything till you went and said get Blake. He is not a superstar, not even a star, he is overhyped . 

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

@Lavone Ramos I like your analysis but:


1. Most of Lebron's assists do not lead to dunks or layups unless it is to Dwayne Wade or Chris Anderson. Everyone else on the heat is a shooter: Chalmers, Bosh, Battier, Allen, Roger Mason Jr., Rashard Lewis, James Jones, even Beasley, Haslem (all midrange), and Norris Cole. More often than not he drives and kicks. Which leads to a good point you made: when Melo drives, he rarely if ever looks to pass. As a defender in that position, you know that Melo is looking to score. If he mixed it up a bit, he may draw more fouls because the defender would be off balance.


2. If you watch the rest of the heat players when Lebron has the ball and watch the Knicks players when Melo has the ball, you will see all you need to know. There is SO MUCH off the ball movement when lebron has the ball. Rarely are people standing around watching him...he'd be a lot easier to guard. When Melo has the ball, the rest of the team is standing watching him...who is he passing to when everyone is covered and making the defense's job easier? I've seen him make the pass when guys actually cut. It's just that nobody on our team cuts or sets off ball screens when Melo has the ball. So, of course most of his passes are for three point shots because, well, nobody moves inside the three point line.


3. Another reason lebron's assist numbers are higher is because he is the de facto PG. He is a PG in a SF/PF's body. His mentality is PG. Melo is given the ball to score and a lot of times he is given the ball with 5-7 seconds on the clock with the expectation of scoring. Their games and rosters are very different and really shouldn't be compared despite me just doing so lol. 


Chris
Chris

@Lavone Ramos Ray Allen and layups is in itself an oxymoron , he, Battier and Miller are shooters, not drivers, Bosh is a shooter, Wade is a shooter and a penetrater. You as dumb as your boy Knixster

Lee Lewin
Lee Lewin

@Lavone Ramos Lavone, do you have a stat on which Lebrons assists lead to Dunks and Layups? I mean, with guys like Chalmers, Allen, Wade, and Bosh(who hits very good mid range jump shots) how do you know that most of Lebrons assists of the layup/dunk kind?



Lee Lewin
Lee Lewin

@Knicks_Fanatic Cna't penetrate when you don't have a guard that can consistently break down the defense. However, i've put a ton of blame from my end on coaching. He makes zero adjustments. He doesn't encourage pushing even with Melo/Shump who can lead the way. 

Juan Maldonado
Juan Maldonado

Sign Jeremy Lin again n then bring up Jeremy Tyler.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@Knicks_FanaticYou would then get into intent.  What if the player is just fouled without really trying to shoot and the opposing team is in the penalty?


But I do get your pt.   


It sort of like a player should get an assist but the the guy he threw it took missed a wide opened dunk or layup.   The players making that pass gets penalized too.

knickster
knickster

Too much walfare cheese has fried your mind, Jr! lmao...

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@Mel Brown Melo is a scorer with other abilities but he will not beat you with his b-ball IQ.  He does not have command on the big picture of the game consistently.


How many times do you have to see that even when others may have it going, Melo will not feed the hot hand but will try to assert his own offense during those times.  


Melo is a talent, but unlike MJ, Magic, Bird and etc, Melo will not beat you with his mind.

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

@Lee Lewin @Lavone Ramos That's because they're not. His team is filled with shooters. The dunks are either to Chris Anderson (him scoring is rare anyway) and Wade's dunks are from alley oops.