Is Melo Max?

Posted on August 9, 2010 by

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My latest for The Huffington Post asks whether or not Carmelo Anthony is worth the money the Nuggets are currently offering.  Readers of this forum – as the following few posts illustrate – have seen the argument that Melo is overrated before.

Kevin Durant vs. Carmelo Anthony

Disagreeing with Doug Moe

Melo for MVP?

Melo, King James, and the Human Highlight Film

The latest “Melo is overrated” argument begins with a column written by Tom Haberstroh at ESPN.com.   The column requires insider access, so everyone may not get to read what I think is a great offering from Haberstroh. 

What’s so great about this story?  As I note at Huffington Post, Haberstroh argues that Melo is overrated because his scoring efficiency is not exceptional — and beyond taking shots — Melo doesn’t do much more than an average small forward with respect to any other aspect of the game. 

What’s interesting about this argument is that it is essentially the Wins Produced story. Wins Produced is a single number that estimates a player’s impact on wins.  Although having a single number is useful, people tend to focus too much on the number and less on the story the number is telling.  And that is why the Haberstroh story is so good.  Wins Produced argues that players should be evaluated in terms of shooting efficiency and the non-scoring factors that impact outcomes.  Furthermore, players should be evaluated relative to the average performance at the player’s position.  Haberstroh makes all these points in the discussion of Melo.

So hopefully this will help more and more people understand why focusing on just scoring – or scoring based metrics like PER – leads to incorrect conclusions.   Again – as Haberstroh demonstrates — you don’t need Wins Produced to see this point (although I still think it is useful to have one number to summarize a player’s value).

– DJ

P.S. The Wins Produced numbers offered for Anthony, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant at The Huffington Post are just for what these players did at small forward.  James and Anthony probably played some power forward, so the Wins Produced numbers you see at Huffington Post are higher than what has been reported previously.