Disagreeing with Doug Moe

Posted on January 22, 2010 by


Doug Moe is synonymous with the Denver Nuggets.   No one had a longer tenure as coach of this team. And no coach led this franchise to more victories.  So one suspects Moe knows the Nuggets.

Recently the “Big Stiff” (as Moe is known) was asked who is the greatest player in the history in the Nuggets.  And here is Moe’s answer (HT: Phil Maymin):

“I’d have to say Melo,” Moe said. “His talent is going to win more games than anybody else. With him, I think the Nuggets are going to have more 50-win seasons than with any other player. And that’s not a knock against any of those players.”

Carmelo Anthony is currently leading the NBA in scoring.  But when I look past scoring, I find myself disagreeing with Moe.  According to Table One, Melo entered the current season ranked 12th on the Nuggets’ all-time Wins Produced rankings.  

Table One: Ranking the Denver Nuggets from 1977-78 to 2008-09

As noted yesterday, Anthony is on pace to produce about nine wins this season.  So when the 2009-10 season ends, Melo might catch David Thompson. But Anthony is going to have produce at his curren rate until 2018-19 (when he will be 35 years of age) to catch the number one ranked player in history.  Yes, it’s possible that can happen.  But given what happens to players once they pass the age of 30, it seems unlikely.

If Anthony does maintain his current pace for another decade — again, this is unlikely — he will eventually pass Fat Lever on the list.  Lever– who played for Denver and Doug Moe – produced 114.2 wins in just six seasons in the Mile High City.  In addition to leading Denver in Wins Produced, Lever’s 0.325 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] also ranks number one in Denver history (Anthony has never posted a WP48 close to this mark) .  Lever, though, never scored 20 points per game.  So it’s understandable that people might think Carmelo Anthony is doing more today.

I should add… Lever is also not the only Moe player to surpass Anthony.  T.R. Dunn, Alex English and Dan Issel produced more wins than Anthony in a Denver uniform.  And Moe coached all these players.  But apparently he thinks all fall short of Melo.

Again, Anthony scores.  And as Moe notes, he plays for some of the most successful teams in Denver history. But I think Denver’s success is more about Carmelo’s teammates (i.e. Marcus Camby, Andre Miller, Chauncey Billups, Nene Hilario, and Chris Andersen) than it’s about Denver’s lone current All-Star.   At least, these players — despite not being great scorers — appear to produce more wins than Anthony.

Now I am not saying Anthony isn’t a good player.  But I do not think he is as productive as other top players today (i.e. LeBron James, Chris Paul, etc…).  And he is not the most productive player in the history of the Nuggets.

Let me close by noting that this is the fourth time I have reported every player in the history of a team.  Here are the previous three teams I have examined. 

Ranking Every Player in the History of the Utah Jazz

Ranking Every Player for the Boston Celtics since 1977

Ranking Every Player for the LA Lakers since 1977

Perhaps this next summer – after the 2009-10 season ends – I will look at a few more teams.

– DJ

The WoW Journal Comments Policy

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at wagesofwins.com provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.