Friday, January 31, 2014

Carmelo vs Durant: Who's The Purer Scorer

"Carmelo Anthony is the best pure scorer in the NBA and it isn't even close." 

The above statement was written by yours truly on a social media site the night that Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, setting a New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden record. As I expected, that single statement set off a firestorm of replies. I made that statement as Kevin Durant was in the midst of a streak that hasn't been seen since Tracy McGrady's heyday. At the time Durant was on his ninth straight game of at least 30 points, a streak that would eventually extend to 12 straight games. Predictably, most of the disagreeing posters felt that Durant takes the title of the best pure scorer in the game. I was then challenged to showcase why I believe Melo is as opposed to Durant. As all of you know, The WeathaMan loves a challenge. So let's dive in and find out, at least for now, who is indeed the best pure scorer in the NBA. But first, a couple of notes:

- Let's be real, this question comes down to only these two players. There isn't anyone else that belongs in this discussion. Remember, we are talking about best pure scorer and not the best player in the game. That's a discussion for another day.

- While I believe that Anthony is indeed the best pure scorer, I do not write blogs with any bias or subjectivity. I am willing to allow the argument to be made solely off of the evidence put forth. I also am aware that my opinion may change based on the evidence that will be presented.

- All of the stats and info used in this blog was gathered from which can be assessed here. If another source of information is used it will be noted.

- When I say "best pure scorer", let's be clear that it is not based on how many points each one scores. What will be discussed is how each player accomplishes getting the points they score and where on the court these baskets come from. 

- I was prepared to compare each player from the time Durant entered the league until this season. However, I decided to just compare them for this season and last season. Comparing a rookie 19 year old Kevin Durant to a 23 year old Carmelo Anthony who had been in the league for four seasons just didn't seem conducive to the article. It is beyond clear that Durant and Anthony have both been established in the league for a few seasons, and using their last 1 1/2 seasons is not only fair but also sensible.

- Make no mistake about it, I am on trying to say that Durant does not deserve all of the coverage, hype, and praise that he is getting for this season. He has basically carried the Thunder the entire season all while showing improvements in a skill set that had already placed him as arguably the second best player in the game. I am simply of the opinion that Anthony is a purer scorer.

Now that we have all of that out of the way.....

Currently Durant leads the league with a 31.2 ppg average while Anthony is second with a 27.2 average. Out of the last four seasons, Durant has won the league scoring title three times. The other person to win the title in those four seasons was Anthony who is the reigning NBA scoring title champion. It is clear that both players score in volumes, and can light up the stat sheet. However, as has been stated earlier, we cannot confuse quantity of points with quality of points.

Split Value FG FGA FG%


Shot Distance At Rim 246 458 .537


3 to <10 ft 49 132 .371


10 to <16 ft 148 325 .455


16 ft to <3-pt 178 413 .431


3-pt 174 471 .369


The chart above is the breakdown of Anthony's field goals from the 2012-2013 season. As can be seen, Melo did most of his damage at the rim (dunks and layups) and from beyond the arc. When it comes to post ups and mid range those shots combined are less than the 3 pointers that Anthony attempted.


Shot DistanceAt Rim259351.738


3 to <10 ft131282.465


10 to <16 ft159332.479


16 ft to <3-pt133310.429




This chart showcases the breakdown of Durant's field goals from the same season.As it shows, Durant's shot chart is more balanced than that of Carmelo Anthony. Not only that, but the "Slim Reaper's" field goal percentages from each distance is considerably better than that of Melo's with the lone exception being the long two pointers found in the 16 ft to the 3 point arc range. Admittedly this is more than enough evidence to show that as of the 2012-2013 season, Kevin Durant was not only a better shooter but also was a purer scorer. The chart shows that Durant was dangerous anywhere on the court and scored at a higher rate than that of Carmelo. On the other hand, it appears that Melo either drove to the rim or settled for shots beyond the arc. While Melo still scored at a prolific rate, it is easier for defenses to key in when they know you're either going all the way or not going at all.

Uh oh, it appears that my opinion may be a little off base. Let's see what this season has to show:

Shot DistanceAt Rim117195.600


3 to <10 ft3096.312


10 to <16 ft63160.394


16 ft to <3-pt118270.437




So far this season, as you can see, Carmelo has done a better job at being a more balanced scorer when it comes to using the entire court for his assault on the scoreboard. Granted the season is only halfway over, but the improvement is clearly evident. Anthony has improved on his percentage at the rim, and has also improved from 16ft to beyond the arc. Melo is also on pace to post up more frequently than he did last year, which has always been a strong aspect of his offensive repertoire. However, it would be nice if Anthony could improve on that 31% number that represents his post up game. Let's compare this to the chart that Kevin Durant has put together so far this season:

Split Value FG FGA FG%


Shot Distance At Rim 152 191 .796


3 to <10 ft 62 151 .411


10 to <16 ft 81 173 .468


16 ft to <3-pt 75 163 .460


3-pt 97 237 .409


At this point it does appear that Durant's case for being the best pure scorer is getting stronger. The number that immediately jumps out to me is the fact that Durant has increased the rate of shots that he is putting up from 3 to 10 ft which is the post up range. Another impressive point is that Durant has maintained a healthy shooting percentage while increasing his frequency. Durantula is once again showing the basketball world that he is an efficient scorer from all over the court. While Carmelo has the edge in shooting percentage from beyond the arc, it is a somewhat negligible advantage considering that Durant has taken considerably more shots from that range while making more of those shots than Anthony has. 

But, as is common knowledge, numbers can lie so it is important to actually take a look at the facts. Those facts tell us that Kevin Durant is on a tear that is not only taking the NBA by storm but his streak has also managed to take Durant straight to the top of just about every MVP list. While Durant may not be viewed by some as the best player on the planet, he sure is scoring like he is.

At the end of the day, Tha WeathaMan can admit when his argument is not backed up by the facts. Clearly in this situation, my original statement cannot be supported by the evidence and facts that are out there. If Melo is indeed the better purer scorer, it isn't a runaway case. At this point however, I am ready to bestow the title of best pure scorer in the NBA on one man and one man only. This is one title that Kevin Durant doesn't have to wait until June to achieve.



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