But back to the question. I’m asking not in the rhetorical sense of when Carmelo does something great and you ask aloud to no one in particular “How Good is Carmelo Anthony?!” but in the actual sense. So...how good is he? My initial goal was to examine whether he’s under-appreciated or over-rated, and question whether us Knicks fans should just be ecstatic to be looking at a top 4 playoff seed, or should always be expecting better? But each of those issues opens up new cans of worms, and there are posts to be written there for another time. I decided instead to look at Carmelo this season by the numbers, against the NBA this season and against former Knicks in franchise history. Hopefully it provides context to decipher just how good Carmelo is this season.
As for today’s NBA: Number 7 is currently second in the league in scoring (as of this writing) at 28.4 points per game. While he is not in the top 10 in either rebounds or assists among small forwards, John Hollinger ranks him no.3 in Player Efficiency Rating for small forwards. Who is he behind? No surprise that it’s LeBron James at 1 and KD is Not Nice at 2. The day Carmelo ranks ahead of either or both of those guys in anything other than NCAA championships, it will be a day of great rejoicing for Knicks fans. I think that day is coming, but for now, being number three is solid.
|Not 1, Not 2, but 10 Championships!|
But who cares about scoring, it’s all about winning!! Right? Well, if we’re going by the numbers, the Knicks have a better winning percentage than all but two teams in the East. Nevermind their recent struggles and concerns about their playing style holding up - looking at the numbers, the Knicks are on pace for their best regular season finish and playoff seed since 2001.
It’s been alot longer than 2001 since a Knicks player has put together a season like the one we are witnessing Carmelo compile. If he keeps his current scoring average, it will be good for 4th All-time in Knicks history, falling justtttt behind Patrick Ewing’s mark of 28.6 in 1990. Second is Richie Guerin (29.5 in ‘62) and first is Bernard King (32.5 in ‘85).
Again - forget all that scoring talk. This is New York, baby, and winning is everything. According to BasketballReference.com, Guerin’s Bockers in '62 and King’s in '85 both failed to make the playoffs, so throw them out. Ewing’s season saw the Knicks go 45-37, earn a 5 seed, and knock out the Celtics in the first round before losing to the Bad Boys in the second round.
Ewing in '89-'90: 28.6 - 5 (seed) = 23.6
Melo in ‘12-’13: 28.4 - 3 (projected seed) = 25.4
So according to a calculation which I just created as I typed it, (The Kavanaugh Playoff/Scoring Index) Carmelo is having the best KP/SI season in Knicks history. So that’s how good he is, but we’ll track both the scoring average and the projected seed as the playoffs approach.
Even in my presentation of the numbers, it’s probably clear to see my bias towards the guy. I just want to play basketball historian, but in real time. How much would any of us love to witness Ewing’s season in 1990, or Bernard King’s 32.9 points per game season, which earned him the only Knicks’ scoring title?
If you're like me and would've loved to see those seasons, than we should be treating Anthony’s season with the same sort of reverence as it unfolds before us...even if the Knicks continue to lose to the Raptors, beat the Spurs, and everything else in between as they trudge towards the end of April.
PS - Speaking of Knicks history, how/why did the Knicks put Earl the Pearl Monroe in a straight jacket?! Whatever, Denzel. They won the championship: