Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Is Carmelo Anthony Really Overpaid?


Usage Rte
Win Shares
Player A
Player B

Welcome one and all to another edition of your favorite internet sports blog, Tha Weatha Report. It has been a while since we've sat down and chatted, but I'm sure you remember how we do this. For this edition of the forecast, I felt the need to tackle a subject that has been brought up and bantered about recently. A few days ago Tom Van Riper of Forbes magazine wrote his list of the top 10 NBA overpaid players. It is a list that created a small bit of controversy due to his #1 selection of Carmelo Anthony, he of the five straight 35-point games. So, I decided to examine if Mr. Honey Nut Cheerios is indeed the most overpaid player in the league. 

Above you will see a table comparing two players that were compared in the Forbes article (all stats courtesy of one of my favorite sites I think we would all agree that for the most part, the two players have very similar numbers with the only exception being Player A being responsible for nearly twice the wins that Player B is responsible for. Diving a bit deeper if we're talking about players being overpaid, then we have to talk about contracts. Player A is making over $16 million this year while Player B is making over $19 million. Both players are on teams that have already clinched the titles in their respective divisions with Player A's team having a better record than Player B's team by six games as of this writing. 

In case you haven't figured it out yet, Player A is Kevin Durant and Player B is Carmelo Anthony. While the numbers above are close, Mr. Van Riper states that the Durant is far and away better than Anthony and cites a few stats of his own. Basically he states that Anthony is not an efficient player and that Durant is the epitome of efficiency and that equates to wins for the Thunder. Is that completely true?

Last year Anthony's efficiency rating (listed under PER in the table above) was 21.1 and the Knicks had a .545 winning percentage. This year his PER has increased to 24.5 and the Knicks have responded by increasing their winning percentage to a robust .662. While Van Riper is correct in that Durant is more efficient than Anthony, Durant is second in the NBA while Anthony is sixth in PER, to state that Carmelo is not in Durant's class is just a ludicrous statement that fit the agenda of the article. Not only is Anthony in Durant's class, but count this blogger among those that feel that Carmelo Anthony is the best pure scorer in the NBA. Oh, and that isn't a close argument either because there is no player that can match him.

The Thunder do have a better winning percentage, but they are also a better team. Durant is comparable to Anthony, Russell Westbrook is one of the best point guards in the league, and Serge Ibaka has maintained his tenacity on the defensive end while greatly improving his offensive game. Simply put, Oklahoma City has more weapons than New York. They are supposed to be better. However, while Durant plays a huge part in that success he is not the end all be all. If he has a bad night it does not necessarily spell doom for OKC's chances at winning that particular game. The Knicks go as Anthony goes. With the exception of a few cases of JR Smith carrying the team, Carmelo Anthony is the catalyst that carries New York and that team will only go as far as he can take them. That is clear by the fact that Carmelo leads the NBA in usage rate, which estimates the percentage of plays that each player is involved in while on the court. Can a player that leads the league in scoring, leads the league in percentage of plays ran for him, and is sixth in efficiency be overpaid? 

This isn't meant as a knock against the Forbes article. I found it to be a very well written article and the author backed up his opinions with stats that he felt helped his cause. It just so happens that I found his opinion to be totally off the mark and incorrect. While it is true that Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are not the same, it is important to note that they are not asked to do the same things. Anthony carries his team, Durant has plenty of help. If being overpaid means you lead the league in scoring and lead your team to a division title, then I'm sure there are plenty of teams that would gladly "overpay" for that kind of production. Maybe Forbes should stick to writing about businesses and leave the sports to others. Or maybe they should find writers that can bring a better perspective to the table. I think I know a guy that could help them.