A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Lame Duck Melo = Best Offense in the League?

with 4 comments

So don’t look now but the Denver Nuggets have the best offense in the league. Their offensive efficiency is at 112.4, which is the best in franchise history, and when you account for strength of schedule their performance this year as an offense moves even ahead of the one team this year with a superior raw efficiency (Lakers).

Of course their doing this in a year where their putative superstar, Carmelo Anthony, has told the organization he wants to be somewhere else, and questions and rumors have formed a dark cloud around everyone associated with the Nuggets.

More tangibly, they are doing this in a year where Carmelo has missed 7 games, is playing less per game than in previous years, and most importantly his scoring has dropped from 28.2 PPG to 23.6, while his shooting efficiency has dropped from 54.8% TS to 52.2 (the league average is 54.0%).

I’ve posted before on the question of how good Carmelo is, so you know I’m not a huge fan. It’s funny though, the thought about how good the Nuggets offense is right now just didn’t come to mind. What’s funny is that that whole debate was kickstarted by Nate Silver’s odd argument about Melo making his teammates shoot better. The argument has been shot down, but on a superficial level without looking at previous seasons, this season’s performance by the rest of the Nuggets would seem like a great piece of evidence in Melo’s favor. Teammates Nene, Arron Afflalo, and Chauncey Billups are all shooting at 62% TS or better, which is utterly insane. The best offense from last year had none of their big minute players shooting that well.

So either, Melo’s reached the pinnacle of improving teammate shooting by deciding he doesn’t care about his team any more and going into a personal slump where he plays less than ever, or, the rest of the Nuggets are good enough that it doesn’t make sense for them to stand around while Melo volume scores. And of course, if you don’t want Melo to volume score, why would you want to pay him upwards of 20 million dollars each season?

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 27, 2011 at 11:38 am

4 Responses

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  1. Really bummed about Melo getting a starting spot. Unlike Yao, that wrong won’t be righted. He is clearly behind 4 other forwards in the West, and VERY clearly behind at least 2 of them. Honestly, when I look at the forward position in the West, Melo shouldn’t even make the team, let alone start. But, because of his starting, someone (probably Love or Odom) isn’t going to make it.

    fyatroll

    January 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm

  2. I feel the same way. Yao making it is due to China’s patriotism, but what excuse does the world have for Melo’s selection? There may be a half dozen players more deserving than Melo that won’t make all star.

    Matt Johnson

    January 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm

  3. All-Star Selections are worth it for endorsement value, not assessment of playing ability. FWIW, he might be the classic case of the player who improves his team by taking an ancillary role (I think Chris Bosh has SOMEWHAT had that effect this year). He won’t, however, be accepting any sort of ancillary role on his destination team, unless Denver play extreme hard-ball.

    Ravenred

    January 28, 2011 at 3:01 am

  4. Well, my feeling is that players should be selected based on playing ability, but fans get to pick who they want.

    I don’t think the Nuggets are necessarily better off with Melo scoring less, but I do think they are not nearly as dependent on Melo doing his volume scoring thing as conventional wisdom thinks they are.

    Matt Johnson

    January 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm


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