NBA Analysis: Impact of Carmelo Trade on Knicks, Nuggets, Wolves

| by David Berri

Carmelo Anthony is going to the Knicks. Finally. Here are the details (as reported by

The New York Knicks Receive:

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Chauncey Billups
  • Shelden Williams
  • Anthony Carter
  • Renaldo Balkman
  • Corey Brewer

The Denver Nuggets Receive:

  • Raymond Felton
  • Wilson Chandler
  • Danilo Gallinari
  • Timofey Mozgov
  • First Round Pick in 2014 (plus other picks, cash, and maybe a toaster oven)

The Minnesota Timberwolves Receive

  • Anthony Randolph
  • Eddy Curry

And here are some quick thoughts on this trade (assuming it is true):

Let’s start with where the Nuggets and Knicks are at the All-Star break.

The Nuggets have a record of 32-25 with an efficiency differential of 2.46.  Such a differential is consistent with a team that would win about 33 of their first 57 games and about 47 games across an 82 game season.

When we move to Wins Produced – reported below — we see that this team has been led by Nene Hilario, Arron Afflalo, and Chauncey Billups.  Carmelo Anthony – for all his “star” power – was only the fourth most productive player on the team.  And his performance – which is somewhat above average (average WP48 or Wins Produced per 48 minutes is 0.100) – is actually an improvement over what we saw last year.  In sum, Carmelo Anthony is not as productive as his reputation suggests (a point made many times in the past).

Now let’s turn to the Knicks.  After 54 games the Knicks have a record of 28-26. The team’s efficiency differential of 0.45 is consistent with a team that would win about 28 of their first 54 games, or about 42 games across an entire season. 

When we turn to Wins Produced – reported below – we see that the most productive player on this team is Landry Fields (a point made before in this forum).  In fact, without the addition of Fields, the Knicks would probably be headed for another trip to the NBA lottery.  This is because the veteran players on the Knicks are essentially offering what they did last year.  Yes, Wilson Chandler has done more and Amare Stoudemire – despite all the hype – is actually offering a bit less.  But the Knicks – as a team – are about as good as what would expect; assuming we all expected Fields to be amazing (which, of course, we didn’t actually expect).

Now that we see where each team is at, here are some quick observations about the Knicks:

  • Fans of the Knicks should be happy tonight.  Not because the team acquired Melo.  No, they should be happy that the price tag didn’t include Fields.
  • That being said, should the Knicks fans expect this team to become a title contender?  Although members of the media might think so, Melo is simply not that productive.  Yes, he can play very well over short periods of time (he was doing very well early in the season).  But as time progresses, Melo seems to regress to the somewhat above average performer we have always seen.  In other words, the Knicks have not acquired LeBron James tonight.  What they have acquired is a player who is just a little bit more productive than Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.  As for the other parts in the trade…
  • Chauncey Billups can offer more than Raymond Felton.  But Billups is old. 
  • Corey Brewer is still young.  Well, he is 24 (and players tend to peak around their mid-20s).  And at this point, Brewer’s WP48 – if he is a shooting guard – is -0.004.  If he is a small forward, his mark is -0.056. And that is a bit less than he offered last year.  So if Brewer plays, he probably doesn’t help.
  • Timofey Mozgov – who the Nuggets apparently coveted – is even less productive than Brewer (as hard as that is to believe).  So losing Mozgov definitely helps the Knicks.
  • And of course, if Balkman ever plays… well, he was very productive the last time he was in New York.

What about the Nuggets? Again, some quick thoughts…

  • Denver really should have insisted on Landry Fields. 
  • Replacing Melo with Chandler and/or Gallinari only would cost the Nuggets about two wins this season.  So yes, this is a small step back.  But it appears rather small. 
  • Felton offers less than Billups, but again…. Billups is old (34 years old).  Felton gives the Nuggets a player who is a bit less productive, but eight years younger.
  • Who is going to play small forward for this team?  The team now has Chandler, Gallinari, and Gary Forbes.  Plus, J.R. Smith and/or Aaron Afflalo appear to have swung to the small forward spot this year.  Not real clear how those minutes get allocated.
  • The Nuggets now have three above average big men (Nene Hilario, Chris Andersen, and Kenyon Martin) and three big men who produce in the negative range (Al Harrington, Melvin Ely, and Mozgov).  Interesting to see how those minutes get allocated.

In sum, it is not clear who is going to play for Denver.  It is possible to come up with a line-up where this trade doesn’t really hurt Denver that much. But it is possible for this trade to really hurt, especially if Mozgov – the player they supposedly insisted upon – actually plays.

Okay, those were some quick thoughts. 

Oops, forgot to mention Minnesota. 

  • It was a good move to get rid of Brewer. 
  • It would be interesting to see if Eddy Curry can play at all anymore.  Yes, Curry is not really that productive.  But does he offer less than Darko Milicic? 

Okay, not sure on that one.  It would be fun to find out (well, maybe fun isn’t the right word).

- DJ