Early returns from the Melo Anthony trade

Its been 10 games now since the big and long awaited Carmelo to New York trade.  That means I can now go to the awesome “Dougs Stats” site and access his “Last 10 Games” stats to produce a “Before Melo” and “After Melo” comparison.

So far, this trade looks very one-sided… in favor of Denver!!!  The Nuggets have improved significantly without Melo, whereas the Knicks have slightly declined with him.  Is this an aberration?  Only time can tell that, but it calls into question Anthony’s “superstar” label.

How, though, have the teams changed?  To answer that I used the three team Marginal Win Score categories to break down performance. 

The first two categories, Effective Scoring (Pts – FGAs – .5FTAs) and Net Possessions (Rebs + Stls – TOs), involve the box score statistics that relate directly to the Milk and Honey of basketball: Points and Possessions.  Thus, each of those categories are counted fully toward the team’s Marginal Win Score.  The third category, “Net Helpful Acts” (.5Ass + .Blks – .5PFs), involve those box score statistics that do not directly produce either points or possessions for a team, but rather “help” produce — or prevent the opponent from producing — one or the other.  They are given one half value in a team’s Marginal Win Score.

Denver Nuggets:  Before and After Melo

Denver has improved substantially without Carmelo, and its mostly related to the team’s ability to produce a large working margin of possessions.  Here is the chart, with the first part being “With Melo” and the second part being “Without Melo”:

  Scr Eff Net Poss Help Acts Team MWS Exp W% 82 Games
Denv 12.74 33.65 1.83      
  7.83 33.13 2.89      
  4.91 0.52 -1.06 0.183 0.533 43.7__38.3
Denv 7.61 40.59 3.71      
  2.41 34.01 3.02      
  5.21 6.58 0.69 1.248 0.714 58.5__23.5
Diff -0.31 6.05 1.75 0.749    
        Expected: 7.1__3.9  
        Actual: 7.0__3.0  

The differences between the two versions of the Nuggets (and the two versions of the Knicks below) highlight the strengths and weaknesses in Carmelo Anthony’s game.  He was an effective scorer who took a lot of shots.  But his defense was erratic, he did not create possessions, and he was not a playmaker.

Accordingly, Denver’s overall scoring efficiency has indeed diminished without Carmelo.  However, their defense has improved to the point that the difference is almost negligible (this being the entire rationale behind Marginal Win Score.  It doesn’t matter how well you produce statistics, what matters is the margin between your production of statistics and your opponents).

The area where the Nuggets have truly improved is in their margin of “Net Possessions”.  This was never Carmelo’s strong suit.  Whether they can sustain such an eye-popping level remains to be seen, but it is possible. 

The other area that really stands out, and will stand out below with the Knicks, is “Net Helpful Acts”.  Carmelo is not a passer, nor is he a shot blocker.  The area where he contributed in the “Helpful” category was drawing fouls on the opponent.  Thus, the Nuggets “Helpfuls” have increased, but so have their opponents, mainly because the opponents are not drawing as many fouls.

New York Knicks:  Before and With Melo

The Knicks story is mainly the reverse.  Their offense is producing more points above scoring attempts, but so are their opponents.  The Knicks have improved slightly in the area of marginal possessions, but I believe this is mainly the result of not passing the ball as much.  Because if you look in the third column, the team’s “Net Helpfuls” have plunged.  The Knicks were once the paragon of “Five Hearts beating as One”, but with Melo they are more like “One Heart doing the work of Five”. 

All in all the Knicks results are mainly a wash.

  Scr Eff Net Poss Help Acts Team MWS Exp W% 82 Games
NYK 9.73 34.48 6.72      
  8.21 36.65 2.43      
  1.52 -2.17 4.29 0.364 0.564 46.2__35.8
NYK 13.69 32.11 1.65      
  10.71 32.61 1.85      
  2.98 -0.51 -0.19 0.228 0.541 44.3__37.7
Diff 1.46 1.66 -4.48 -0.136
Expected: 5.4__4.6  
        Actual: 6.0__4.0  


I’m doubting that the Denver Nuggets can maintain their 58 game win pace, but its also clear they have barely lost anything without Carmelo.  Its funny how those “shots” are still there and still going in after losing such a shot creator.  The Knicks appear to have simply replaced scoring with more scoring and less passing.  Their defense is not improved and the team overall does not appear to have improved either. 

We will keep following the situation.


3 Responses to “Early returns from the Melo Anthony trade”

  1. BadgerBucco Says:


    I’m not sure what you mean by putting shot in quotes, but clearly those shots are still there and they are not going in. Denver is making it up in other areas, but the scoring has taken a hit. Of course, I may be missing your point.


  2. BadgerBucco Says:

    Second child and second job are eating up my time.

    The Badgers look very good overall, but they got screwed in the seeding. Belmont might be the best 13 seed ever. Of course, if they get past that, they should hope for a Kansas St. upset or face a Utah St. team that might be the best 12 seed ever.

    If it goes according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, the Badgers have to face the teams with the following rankings to get to the Final Four:


    Nary a push-over in the bunch. The one saving grace is having the weakest one and two seeds, so if they can make it to the Sweet 16, they could go all the way. Assuming the seeds above, here are my rough percentages to getting to each level:

    Round of 32 – 61%
    Sweet 16 – 37%
    Elite 8 – 17%
    Final Four – 10%

    Of course, that assumes that their struggles in the last two games aren’t indicative of some trouble that is cropping up.


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