I am not a stats freak.
My goat is Bill Russell so you know the only thing that matters to me is wins.
However, just because you don’t live the numbers, don’t mean you don’t know them and know them I do.
So it almost pains me to have to write that what the star player of my favorite team in any sport will have to do to win a championship this season will be almost exclusively stat based.
Sometimes, I guess, the truth hurts though.
Two days ago, a trending topic was the fact that Slam Magazine listed Carmelo Anthony as the 15h best player in the league.
And while, even if I took an unbiased perspective on Carmelo, I’d think 15th was a bit too low, when viewing as a casual fan or a Stan, 15th, sadly, ain’t too far off either.
So what does Carmelo need to do to win it all this year?
First off, he needs to pass. He’s gotta at least average 6 assist per. That number is key. It’s more than halfway to 10 and with it consciously in his mind that he has to do it, it’ll have teammates looking for the ball a lot more often.
That’s key too because one of the problems with playing with a volume scorer like Carmelo is that since you never see the ball, you’re unsure of what to do with it when it finally comes your way.
Also and perhaps most importantly, having 6 as a number to – pardon the pun – shoot for, will reduce Carmelo’s tendency to call his own number and take bad shots.
LeBron James has averaged 6.9 apg for his career.
Which, of course, brings me to my next point, that shooting percentage.
There’s absolutely no reason that a 6’8″4X Olympian 9X All-star should be shooting a paltry 45.3% from the floor for his career. Compare that with LeBron’s 49.8% or Larry Bird’s 49.6% or Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s ridiculous 50.9%, hell, even Kevin Durant is 48.3%.
But Durant, Erving, Bird and, of course LeBron, all average more assists than Melo which probably proves a correlation.
Combined, Melo is the worst passer and shoots the lowest FG percentage of any allegedly great small forward ever.
But maybe the steal of this Knicks off-season won’t be Derrick Rose, or Joakim Noah or Courtney Lee, but Brandon Jennings – who’s not even gonna start.
Jennings comes in with neither a chip on his shoulder nor anything to prove which makes him free to just play.
If first year coach Jeff Hornacek has a brain which, quite frankly, the jury is still out on, he’ll have Melo play more of a point-forward position in the tradition of Scottie Pippen or Draymond Green.
This takes the ball out of the brittle Rose’s hands and frees Rose up to try to score more before he inevitably trips over his own shoelace and goes down for the season somewhere around the second week of November.
Jennings, however, can score and move the ball and when on the floor, should relieve Carmelo of his ball handling responsibilities.
But Carmelo should still always have the ball.
He’s the most dangerous players on the Knicks with it and one of the most dangerous players in league history.
The only problem is, you know what he’s gonna do with it every time he gets it.
He’s gonna jack.
That is, unless he’s conditioned to look to get at least 6 assists per game.
If Carmelo Anthony starts averaging nearly twice his career average in assists, he’s still gonna jack, you’ll just never know when.