LeBron James took a ton of crap this off-season for a whole series of things: appeared to give up for stretches of the playoffs, narcissistically did an hour-long puff piece to announce that he’s going to Miami, joined a team that already had a superstar so we could shirk his “being the man” duties, thanked Akron but not Cleveland for his time in Cleveland, got booed at his friend’s wedding, and said he would change nothing he's done even though he’s been acting like a total jackhole for the past few years.
Carmelo Anthony apparently wants in on the action, so he’s now putting together his own summer of discontent. There have been some questions about Anthony’s attitude and ability to be a non-dumbass before 2010, with incidents such as being cited for bringing marijuana in his backpack into an airport in 2004 (a friend took the fall even though it was in Anthony’s bag), appearing prominently in a “Stop Snitching” video that advocated killing someone who told Baltimore police about specific drug activity in the city, claiming to have thrown his 2004 Olympic bronze medal into a lake, was arrested for “driving while ability-impaired” in 2008 after being pulled over for weaving lanes and failing a series of sobriety tests, and injecting himself into a the thick of the famous Knicks-Nuggets brawl of 2006, including nailing Jared Jeffries with a sucker punch and quickly running away right as the incident was dying down (at the 0:40 mark of this video).
Anthony’s summer is taking on James-ian heights because of a few choice events: first his Nuggets were bumped in prompt fashion from the playoffs, then some advanced stats guys pointed out that Carmelo is way overrated which generated a lot of head nodding, then he got all weird about Denver’s extension and seems to want to join the hapless Knicks, and just recently he got into a twitter battle with a woman whose apparent job is being a groupie to B-list rappers. Let’s break down each of these progressively crazier parts to his summer.
Denver tied Utah with the fourth-best record in the West and faced their divisional rivals in the first round of the playoffs. Jazz wing-defender extraordinaire Andrei Kirilenko and starting center Mehmet Okur completely missed the series (outside of Okur’s 11 minutes in Game One) due to injuries, so a high-scoring SF like Anthony should have had a field day. He averaged 31 ppg, but his 49% eFG% was one of the worst on the team, he had more turnovers than assists, and he was—as always—Denver’s fourth-best frontcourt defender. The Nuggets got bounced in six games against the team without two of its starters. Because of this premature exit, Anthony’s track record of getting stuck in the first round stayed nearly perfect; the Nuggets made it out last year, and that’s it for his career.
Math Nerds Pick On Anthony
In late-July, writer Michael Salfino used a wins produced formula that was created by two economists to explain that Anthony was only the 20th-best SF in the league in terms of wins produced, and he was considerably further down the list when you adjust for minutes played. Some fans thought this was total bunk since he averages 25 ppg for his career. Then others pointed out that he’s not a good rebounder, passer, or defender. And it’s not like he’s a particularly skillful scorer with a career 46% FG% and 31% 3FG%.
Well maybe these math guys don’t know what they’re doing and other math guys with other formulas would back-up Anthony’s place as an NBA great. No, it turns out that he ranks as kind of average on just about every advanced matrix that weighs players’ input on the outcomes of games (these are the formulas that look at how the team does when that player is in, regardless of that player’s stats). His career Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating are even at 107 (look under ‘Advanced’). For a player to be helpful to his squad, his ORtg should be higher than his DRtg. Considering the Nuggets have had a winning record every year he’s been in the league, there’s really no excuse for these two numbers to be the same.
Then I took a look at his Adjusted Plus/Minus over the past three years at Basketball Value (the only timeframe they have that data for). Going backwards in time, his yearly Adj +/- ratings have been 0.45, 4.41, and -5.29. Even if you’re not interested in the least as to what those numbers mean (it’s a player’s impact on a team’s scoring margin), recognize that only one of those scores is significantly above zero and their overall total is in the negative.
Leaving The Nuggets
What started as murmurs due to Anthony not signing a $65 million extension with the Nuggets have become taken-as-fact rumors and leaks that he or his agent have flat-out told Denver his days there are done, and they should trade him. He’s been to the playoffs every year of his career, his team has become one of the top-notch Western Conference clubs, and they’ve put more than enough talent around him that no one can pretend he’s carrying a roster full of dead weight. And although his defense has improved, he has three defensive-first bigs behind him to clean up the messes he can’t handle (Nene, Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen).
But he’s had enough of that and apparently wants to move on…to the Knicks…because he obviously cares more about marketing himself than winning. I don’t know if he thinks joining up with Amar’e Stoudemire will create some Heat-like cluster of power, but maybe he missed the memo that Stoudemire is always hurt, isn’t so good at defense, also is not much of a rebounder, and is probably only considered as good as he is because Steve Nash used to get him the ball.
Carmelo thinks that he’ll simply get to sign a huge extension with the Nuggets and then get traded elsewhere, which is faulty logic. The problem is that most of the teams that the Nuggets would be willing to trade him to (ones with young talent and good draft picks) are crappy and not in New York, so Anthony wouldn’t sign an extension to go there. And the Knicks have nowhere near enough decent trade chips to send to Denver. Could the Nuggets simply hold onto him knowing they won’t get anything good in a trade with a team that would basically just be renting him for one year until his current contract expires? Possibly.
You’ve probably heard all about this zaniness already, so I’ll try to summarize it briefly. Some floozy named Kat Stacks who sleeps with rappers you don’t care about and brags about it on the internet said something to upset Anthony. He then responded over the weekend to whatever the transgression was by twittering that someone should slap “her pigeon face ass” and record it for him to see. Then he offered to give $5,000 to whoever did it, and even included a photo of $5,000 worth of hundreds. Anthony later said his account was hacked and he never publicly offered money for someone to assault a Miss Stacks.
Not one person can possibly believe his hacked account story for a few reasons. One, it’s quite easy to believe that Anthony would do this; this isn’t Shane Battier claiming a hacker started making threats on his twitter account. Two, his next twit after the two offering money for an attack on Stacks includes “Where were we? I lost my cool for a min. Sorry bout that.” Whoever wrote this stuff realized it was really stupid and tried to backtrack, very unlike what a hacker would do. Three, his wife Lala Vasquez (who’s no saint herself) said on her own twitter that “my husband is on a roll right now” while she was also going back and forth with Stacks. Lala obviously thought her husband was saying some great stuff while his account was offering money for an assault. Good one.
The result of all this crap is quite obvious: Stacks is now pressing charges against Anthony. Consider James relieved that someone else is now taking the heat this summer.