Carmelo Anthony used to be good. He used to put up spectacular numbers on some truly awful Knicks teams, and before that he developed a reputation as a guy who couldn’t get the job done in the playoffs because apparently he was expected to turn the Denver Nuggets into champions by himself and with famous playoff choker George Karl as his coach (this site is based in Seattle. Where were you on May 7, 1994?)
When sitting down to write this, my first thought was “is Carmelo Anthony washed up?”, and I would look at all the evidence to arrive at a conclusion and possibly be surprised, the way Melo’s advanced stats, better than you might expect, made him still a viable star on the Knicks, a guy who could go into the Hall of Fame with questions around him like “if he played for a coach who could win in the playoffs or didn’t waste his prime because his glory-hound ghetto trash wife dragged him to the second-most dysfunctional franchise in sports (hi, Cleveland Browns!), would he have had a better legacy?”
Instead…well…let’s first frame the question.
Is Carmelo Anthony still good in 2018? Or is he completely washed up?
And with that in mind…
The Counting Stats
2016-17 Melo: 23.5 pts/36 min, 6.2 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.2 TO, 43.3% FG, 35.9% 3PT, 83.3% FT.
2017-18 Melo: 18.6 pts/36 min, 6.5 reb, 1.5 ast, 1.5 TO, 40.8% FG, 36.3% 3PT, 76.1% FT.
So he’s the third option on a team that has Russell Westbrook and Paul George, he’s playing 90 percent of his minutes at power forward and 10 percent at center after playing 69/31 small and power forward last year, he’s on a team with a great rebounder (Steven Adams) and a guard with a nose for the boards (Westbrook), and while he has fewer assists, he’s further into the frontcourt in an offense that doesn’t move the ball well; aside from Westbrook’s selfish assists, Oklahoma City’s offense is a black hole.
So far…so far, we’ve learned nothing. We can wonder what happened to Melo’s free throw shooting, but that says nothing about his skill as a player in the sense of decline or maintenance.
If anything, the telling stat is that three-point shooting; he’s shooting better from beyond the arc, so he’s clearly still got his stroke. We’re going to need to dig deeper, so…
The Advanced Stats
Here, a clearer picture is painted by the Big Four advanced stats, and let’s stretch this back a bit to illustrate the decline more clearly:
2015-16 Melo: 20.3 PER, .121 WS/48, 2.6 BPM, 2.9 VORP.
2016-17 Melo: 17.9 PER, .089 WS/48, -0.7 BPM, 0.8 VORP.
2017-18 Melo: 13.0 PER, .074 WS/48, -3.8 BPM, -1.0 VORP.
Negative Value Over Replacement Player. Fewer Win Shares on a team that has more wins. A Box Plus/Minus veering into “atrocious” territory. And a PER below league average.
For the first time in Melo’s career, he’s posting a negative (-1.9) Offensive BPM. The skill on which he made his name is gone.
Illustrating that point further, Melo’s True Shooting, .507, is the lowest of his career, lower even than his rookie year (.509) when he put up career-lows in field goal percentage (42.6) and free throw shooting (77.7 percent) that he only just dipped below this year.
And you can make arguments all day and night about how Melo’s inability to adjust to being the third option and seeming bafflement at the role expectations hurt his stats, but if you look at his game log, he has been and continues to be hot garbage down the stretch, hitting even half his shots just twice in the last two months, a stretch of 24 games (Melo missed three for various reasons.)
Carmelo Anthony turns 34 on May 29. He’s played 37,558 pro minutes through March 21. He’s played several thousand more in international play.
And unlike a certain draft mate of his in that legendary 2003 draft, who’s probably going to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s record for minutes (and possibly points as well), Melo’s looking like a broken-down clunker of a car rather than a classic at the drive-in burger joint Sunday night car show.
Stick a fork in Melo. He’s done. This one’s Busted.