The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Follow the leader

Posted by disappointmentzone on 11 July 2006

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony is reportedly slowly backing his way out of the verbal agreement he made on July 1st concerning the maximum contract extension he was offered by the Nuggets. According to this report Anthony wants a deal similar to the deal LeBron James is ironing out with the LeCavs (for more information, read below)–a shorter deal worth less now with an option of signing a longer deal worth much more sooner than he would with the five-year maximum contract. Should the Nuggets acquiesce to Carmelo’s demands?

The smart folks who wrote The Wages of Wins made an entry on their blog the other day about whether Carmelo was worth the same amount of money as LeBron or Dwayne. Carmelo’s scoring statistics are at first glance favorable. He averaged 26.5 points per game last season, a marked increase over the 21 ppg he averaged the season before. His 26.5 average ranks him in the top tier of NBA players. Of course, there is more to the story than scoring average. Carmelo attempted 152 three pointers last season and made only 37, or 24%. This horrific shooting percentage brings Carmelo’s points per field goal attempt down to just above league average. In other words, if your average NBA player attempted as many shots as Carmelo he would average about 26.5 ppg, too. Carmelo also doesn’t rebound; he’s below average for a small forward. Using their Wins Produced formula the Wages of Wins authors figure Carmelo was worth about 4.8 wins last season. LeBron and Wade were worth 20.4 and 18.2, respectively. Carmelo didn’t even lead his team in Wins Produced–that honor goes to Marcus Camby (13.7)–nor did he finish second (Andre Miller, 10.4).

Statistically speaking, Carmelo isn’t nearly as valuable to the Nuggets as James or Wade is to their team–and it’s not even close. (And he isn’t worth keeping around because he’s a star player. It turns out wins make teams more money than star players. Star players only matter on the road, meaning Carmelo makes other teams money when he plays in their arenas.) His value to the Nuggets is not worth $80 million over five years, and likely not worth $60 million over four years with a player option after three seasons. But the shorter contract is in the best interest of the Nuggets as much as it is in the interest of Carmelo. If in the next four seasons Carmelo is unable to improve his shooting efficiency and rebounding, the Nuggets will be quite confident when they don’t offer Carmelo a maximum contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Perhaps by then statistical methods for evaluating player talent in the NBA will be as rooted as they are in other aspects of business.

One Response to “Follow the leader”

  1. Jim Shorts said

    Hmm… Carmello,Wade, Basketball… Didn’t we finally just tuck away yet another dismal NBA season. Talk is cheap, Wade or LeBron…I can see that argument (though if LeBron had Shaq, and a back-up named Alonzo he’d be wearing a big diamond encrusted ring as well) but Carmello…please I would bet that if you polled 100 basketball fans, of which I am not, not one would start a team with him. It’s just another ride on the coattails for Mr Mello. Hardly worth either of us typing about…

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