Oscar Robertson, who is the highest order of NBA great and disagreeable sumbitch, went on SiriusXM NBA radio today and said that Carmelo Anthony should definitely leave the Knicks. There are a number of reasons why Melo should or should not leave New York, but Oscar actually hit a big one square in the face.
Here's Robertson on SiriusXM:
"I would leave today [if I were Carmelo]," Roberston said on SiriusXM NBA radio Thursday. "... Let me tell you why: wherever that kid has gone, when he was at Denver, they had a team that fooled around with the ball, fooled around with the ball, then all of the sudden when they needed a basket, threw it to Carmelo. Then, when he shot the ball, they said he shot too much. Then when he didn't shoot they said he didn't shoot enough.
Now, anyone who watched very many Knicks games this year knows this to be true. But how true it is is actually astonishing. Last week, we ran a piece using data from Synergy Sports on which players in the league are best late in the shot clock (you can read it in full below). Along with LeBron, Carmelo graded out way ahead of everyone else in terms of how often he was forced to bail out the offense late in the clock. Here's the chart of league leaders:
Across the league, shots in the last four seconds of the shot clock are far worse than a regular shot. The difference is 12.9 points per 100 possessions this season, or, basically the difference between the league-best offense (Clippers) and the league-worst (the 76ers). The Knicks had 1,068 of these shots—seventh most in the league—of which Carmelo took 30.5 percent. And he spent 15.6 percent of all his plays taking these damn shots. Thing is, he was good at them (86.6 points per 100 possessions). So good that he dragged the Knicks' overall late-clock efficiency (83.8 points per 100) up to third best in the league.
This hasn't always been the case for Melo, if you were wondering. He was never that high on the list as a Nugget (Kobe and LeBron and usual suspects like Hawks-era Joe Johnson typically took more late-clock shots). As soon as he got to New York in 2010-11, though, he went from spending 6 percent of his plays in Denver on late-clock situations (and 5.6 percent the year before) to 9.3 in New York. His percentage has climbed every year since—and remember, that first year and a half was under human amphetamine Mike D'Antoni. (To what extent the team's clock-chewing habit is a product of Anthony's own ball-holding proclivities is a question for another day.) In a way, it's absolutely insane that Anthony managed to trudge through that kind of offensive stagnation to post two of his most statistically productive seasons. But it's also no damn way to live.
So, the way things have been going with the Knicks, and given the state of the roster and cap flexibility going forward, you'd have to agree with Oscar on at least this one point. If Carmelo has had enough of this shit, he should get out of town.
Image by Sam Woolley, original photos by Getty Images
Chart by Reuben Fischer-Baum