Monday, February 20, 2012

One Day Kevin Durant Can be the next Carmelo....If things work out

Recently, RFH founding member Charlie Widdoes wrote a beautiful piece on on the true hoop network about the NBAs current bout of "Linsanity". Unfortunately, there is a dark undercurrent to "Linsanity", a character assassination of one of the great NBA players, Carmelo Anthony. There is no denying that Anthony's career with the Knicks has been tumultuous, and there is a chance that it is just not a great fit. What is surprising, however, is that Anthony is being labeled as selfish loser despite an extensive career proving the exact opposite. Making the Anthony bloodbath even worse is the media's obsession with Kevin Durant, who in many ways is more of a selfish loser than Anthony will ever be. Lets take a look at the careers of both of these superstars.
Hang in there Melo you winning machine

High School
Both players started their careers at local Maryland high schools. Anthony would transfer to Oak Hill for his senior season where he would lead the Warriors to a 33-1 record. Melo would also lead his Baltimore Elite squad to the pinacle of the AAU ranks. Anthony would end the year ranked #1 in his class. Durant would spend his junior at Oak hill (where they won the 2005 national title). Durant then transfered to Montrose Christian for his senior year because of arguments with legendary Oak Hill coach Steve Smith. A Mcdonalds all american, Durant would finish ranked second in his class behind Greg Oden.
Advantage: Push

Anthony will probably go down as the best one and done college player of all time. He averaged 22 and 10 during the regular season before exploding in the NCAA tournament. He scored 33 points in a final four game against Texas on his way to being named as the most valuable player during the NCAA tournament. What few people acknowledge about Anthony's Syracuse team is that they were far from a star studded crew. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Anthony's team was more of a one-man show than anything else. The next best players were a freshmen Gerry MacNamara and a Sophmore Hakim Warrick (who may or may not have been able to score yet). That Cuse team started Craig Forth at Center. Don't get me wrong, I would go to war with Keith Duany and Jeremy McNiel any day of the week, but keep in mind they beat Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich to win the title.....thats how off the chain Melo was playing.

Durant's college career was marked by fabulous statistics (26 and 11) but limited team success. His Texas team finished 25-10 good for 3rd in the big 12 and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Making this team success even more underwhelming was that Texas was stacked with talent. Not only did Durant have an elite point guard (D.J Augustine), he also had a great college shooter (A.J Abrams), an all-big 12 combo forward (Damione James), an NBA level center (Dexter Pittman, and a rugged college power forward (Connor Atchly). One year later, this entire team sans Durant went 31-7, won the big 12, and went to the elite eight. O no! is their a chance Kevin Durant is a loser.
I feel for you D.J. At least once Durant left your team could get to some winning.

Advantage: Anthony

The U.S national team
Many NBA players are criticized for not playing enough for the national team. Good thing these selfish Benedict Arnolds are counterbalanced by true patriots like Carmelo Anthony. Melo has been involved in the U.S national team since 2001, and has been the bedrock behind the teams resurgence. Topping off this amazing display of love for country has been Anthony's willingness to adjust his role, typically playing the stretch four and deferring to other teammates. Despite his unselfish play, Anthony has still put up ridiculous scoring numbers internationally. His 35 point outburst agains Italy in the 2006 FIBA world championships broke Kenny Andersons U.S record. Carmelo would follow that up by being a critical member of the 2008 olympic "redeem team". In the Gold medal game against Spain, Carmelo would contribute 13 points on the way to victory....something he must be really used to.

The remake should be called the "Carmelo Anthony Story"
I will give it to Durant, he has a pretty decent international career but I still have doubts. Durant was cut from the 2008 Olympic team. He would get his first shot in 2010 where he was the headliner on a starless team. In typical Durant fashion he would bomb away and get some amazing statistics. In his defense, he didn't have many other options and the team did win the world championship. It still remains to be seen how Durant can mesh with other superstars.
Advantage: Anthony

First four years in the NBA
This is where I might be getting myself into dicey situation. I fear that my rational comparison could result in an assanation attempt from the main stream media. "How dare you talk up Carmelo while not gargling Kevin Durant's balls" (Rich Bucher voice).

Crude humor aside, the first four years of Carmelo and Durant's respective careers are eerily similar. Lets take a look at the stats.

Season #1: 21 pts, 6 Reb, 2.8 Ast, 42.6 FG%, 77% FT, 32% 3pt
Season #2: 20.8 pts, 5.8 Reb, 2.6 Ast, 43.1 FG%, 79% FT, 26% 3pt
Season #3: 26.9 pts, 4.9 Reb, 2.7 Ast, 48 FG %, 80% FT, 24% 3pt
Season #4: 28 pts, 6 Reb, 3.8 Ast, 47 FG %, 80% FT, 26% 3pt

Season #1: 20.3 pts, 4.4 Reb, 2.4 Ast, 43 FG%, 87%FT, 28%3pt
Season #2: 25.3 pts, 6.5 Reb, 2.8 Ast, 47.6 FG%, 86%FT, 42% 3pt
Season #3: 30.1 pts, 7.6 Reb, 2.8 Ast, 47 FG%, 90% FT, 36% 3pt
Season #4: 27.7 pts, 6.8 Reb, 2.7 Ast, 46% FG, 88% FT, 35% 3pt

Hello Brother (G.I Joe Voice)

As you can see both players live in the high 20s in points, the 5 range in rebounds, and just under 3 assists. Both Anthony and Durant shoot in the high 40s. The two areas where Durant is better than Anthony are with three pointers and free throws. Even though Anthony is a solid free throw shooter, Durant is elite. Although Anthony's 3pt shooting numbers were poor his first four years, it is worth noteing that they jumped to 35%  in his fifth season and peaked at 42% last season.

Although Durant gets a slight edge in statistics, Anthony had slightly more team success. Joining a team that went 17-65 the previous season, Anthony lead the Nuggets to a 43-39 record as a rookie. Anthony would lead the Nuggets into the playoffs each of his first four years. Durant's teams went 20-62 and 23-59 during his first two years. Granted Durant's teams broke the 50 win barrier in his next two seasons, including a deep trip in the playoffs last year. Anthony did not get to that point in the playoff until year six in the league.

What both players have shown is that they are lethal scorers who shoot a fairly high percentage for how much they shoot. Neither Anthony nor Durant have shown that their skill sets are complete enough to win an NBA title just yet.
Advantage: Push

Going forward
This is where Durant deserves some credit. He has set himself up to put up monster numbers on a great team in Oklahoma City. Although Anthony followed up his first four years with scoring numbers of 22,27, 30, and 26 including a trip to the conference finals, it is hard to imagine Durant not surpassing those marks. What is worth noting however, is that Durant plays with the best backcourt on the planet while Anthony had two years of an aging Chauncey Billups. making this an even stronger advantage for Durant is that Anthony finds himself in a tough situation in New York. He plays for a terrible coach, and with a set of players that do not compliment his style.

The bottom line is that to win with either Anthony or Durant teammates have to mold their games around the stars. Oklahoma has gotten this message while New York has not. Neither Anthony nor Durant possess the multifaceted games of Lebron, DWade, or Kobe which allow teams to seemingly never miss a beat. Trying to go any further than that (either positively or negatively) about either player is just foolish.
Advantage: Durant


Gil Haylon said...

You realize, that Durant's advantages in free throw percentage and three point percentage (where he's better by almost 10% in each category) make him a far more efficient player than Carmelo has ever been or ever will be. His true shooting percentage was higher every single year.

Calling that a push is absurd.

Still, decent point about Melo being labeled as a selfish-loser.

John Hendrie said...

Gil -

You are a better rebounder and defender than Durant. He is driving a wedge between that team. He is secretly trying to take Westbrook down a notch and he is going to get Scotty Brooks fired. Durant's showboating and whining makes me nauseous.