New core in the Big Apple
Carmelo Anthony finally got traded. The special ticker section on the ESPN bottom line that says “Carmelo” will now go the way of the ones that used to say “Favre.” That space is now reserved for some other star whose story we’ll soon grow tired of.
What does it all mean? The Knicks are happy and Carmelo is happy, but is either party any closer to being champion? I am in the camp that says not this year, but maybe in the future, and Carmelo’s play will have nothing to do with it.
I’m a big believer in advanced statistics. There’s one that is specifically applicable to basketball called Wins Produced that was popularized and used masterfully by a statistician by the name of David Berri. What you need to know is that Wins Produced uses regression analysis to determine which basketball box score statistics contribute to wins and therefore which players produce the most wins. According to this measure, Carmelo Anthony, who is a star in many people’s eyes, is just slightly above average when it comes to what matters, helping his team win games. He’s only produced the 53rd most wins this season among all NBA players. And this season isn’t an anomaly or the case of a pouting superstar letting the trade drama affect his play. It’s actually been Anthony’s best season according to Wins Produced.
When you put together all of the moving pieces (adding the Wins Produced of each player involved in the trade), the Knicks actually come out a little bit on top. The players they picked up have produced about two wins more than the players they sent away. Unfortunately, for Knicks fans this probably doesn’t translate into catching up with the Celtics, Heat, Bulls or Magic in terms of 2011 title chances, or even 2012.
What the Carmelo trade does do for the Knicks is it adds to their perceived star power. Guys like Carmelo Anthony who are big time scorers (but take a lot of shots to get there) are seen by fans, basketball personnel decision makers and other players as better than they are. They make the All-Star games and get the big contracts, which add to the perception. Other players want to play with them, which is where the Knicks may become future title contenders. Two point guards who are in the top 20 in Wins Produced this season, Chris Paul (3rd) and Deron Williams (20th) will most likely be shopping their services as free agents in summer 2012. Paul or Williams may be enticed to form their own big three next to Anthony and Amare Stoudemire (who used to be like Paul and Williams in terms of Wins Produced, but now is more like Anthony, that is, average). With those three and rookie Landry Fields (amazingly 12th in the NBA in Wins Produced), who New York made a smart decision in keeping, the Knicks could have a team capable of deep playoff runs starting in 2012. Most people will point to the trade for Carmelo as the moment the Knicks turned things around, and they’d sort of be correct.
| February 23, 2011; 9:03 AM ET
Categories: Ryan Korby, Wizards | Tags: Ryan Korby, Wizards
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