I would have a hard time rooting for the C’s next year if they got Carmelo.
The rumors have been buzzing around the Celtics. It happens every year. The Celtics have a long history of being a winning team in the NBA and any season where they fail to achieve that goal, people want to fix them. Of course this all leads to the million upon million different trade proposals, offseason plans, players to sign and rookies to draft that everyone and their mother suggest. And I can’t really complain about it because, hell, we here at From the Couch have been doing it all offseason long. It’s part of the job. We want to help build the Celtics back into a team that we are proud to root for and proud to call our team.
First name of the offseason? Kevin Love.
That was the guy that was thrown around all NBA people, all the knowledgable types. Kevin Love wants out of Minnesota and the Celtics have all the pieces to get him out of there. A few months ago, when this was first proposed, it sounded like a pipe dream. But now it seems to be on the cusp of reality. So real in fact that if Love doesn’t come to Boston, I would find myself lost in both tears and sheer disappointment.
After this past weekend, this deal is all but done. Even the T-Wolves have reported that a deal is taking shape – not explicitly with the Celtics, but come on, who else would it be with? – and they are just waiting for a new head coach to sign off on it. So I would chalk up this deal as done.
But now new rumors are here. And I don’t like them.
The new hot name to see in green is now-Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, or – as any Anthony supporter will call him – Melo. I will never call him Melo. If you hear me call him Melo, please feel free to punch me in the arm. You have my permission.
And clearly we have gotten to the heart of my article: I do not want Carmelo Anthony on the Celtics.
Let me say that again. I DO NOT WANT CARMELO ANTHONY ON THE CELTICS.
Please, feel free to shout curse words at me or yell “What the fuck are you thinking”, but you know I’m right. Anthony is not the player the Celtics need, and my worry is that he will be the player the Celtics get. I know everything that you are hearing is just rumor, but that’s how Love started and I don’t want the idea of Anthony in green to get anywhere near as close to reality as Love in green is becoming.
But I can’t just sit here and say I don’t want Anthony because something about him bothers me (though that’s exactly the reason). No, that doesn’t make for good writing. I need to prove my point to all you “Melo” people that Anthony would be the worst possible player for the Celtics (maybe not the worst, I think Josh Smith would be the single worst player to bring to the C’s) to bring in this offseason.
So what bugs me about Anthony? If I was asked for my first impression of Anthony I’d have to say a selfish ball-hog who cares more about scoring and points and media and publicity and shoes and clothes and shit than winning a championship. That’s my initial impression of the man.
Lets not settle for that eloquently worded sentence though. Let’s delve into the player that is Anthony and really get to all his flaws and my growing hatred for the idea of him playing with the C’s next season.
I’M THE MAN, I’M THE MAN, I’M THE MAAAAAN
So I called Anthony selfish in my blanket statement about him. But there are plenty of NBA superstars out there who you can call selfish: Kobe, LeBron, Durant, even Pierce. Stars are selfish because they are so confident that they are the man to score and win the game, that they want the ball at all times. That’s fine. I want the ball in any of those player’s hands (yes even Kobe’s) late in a game. But the difference is that all these players learned over their careers that they couldn’t do it all and thus their game changed.
Obviously there is no stat that shows ‘teamwork’ but the closest thing, in my mind, is assists. A high assist count from a star shows that the player has realized that he can’t win alone and that he needs to rely on his teammates to score and win games.
Look at any of the selfish, “ball-hog” stars in the league and you can see this realization through their career assists. Actually, let me correct that. Look at any of the good, championship winning (your time is coming Durant) selfish stars, and you can see this realization, because that is what won them championships, and made them a better player.
Lets start with Durant, even though the hasn’t won yet but believe me, that time is coming like a freight train. For the first four years of his career, Durant averaged about 2.6 APG. He shot about 45% from the field in those four seasons. The team had two horrible seasons, then lost int he first round in ’09-’10 and then made it to the Western Conference finals in ’10-’11.
But Durant matured as a player. He worked at his game and worked with his teammates and became better for it.
His assist numbers went up. In ’11-’12 season he had 3.5 APG and 49% from the field, by far the best in his career on both fronts. That year the Thunder made it to the finals. In 2012, Durant finished the season with a career best 4.6 APG and best 51% from the field. Finally this season he finished with a whopping 32 PPG on 50% shooting and 5.5 APG. And he was the NBA MVP for good reason. Durant worked at his game and has become arguable the most dangerous scorer in the league, not just because he can do it with ease, but because he has become an expert at assisting his teammates and making the people around him that much better.
Now jump to LeBron. LeBron’s assists have always been high, even in Cleveland when he had no one around him to pass to. He was still always looking to get his teammates involved. And you see his stats getting better throughout his career, especially when it comes to field goals. In 2010, James’ first season with Miami, he shot 51% from the field, which is already impressive. But that number just increased throughout his time in South Beach, from 53% in 2011, to 56.5% in 2012 to this year shooting 56.7% from the field.
I’ll admit I have digressed a little from my focus on assists but the point that I’m making here is that Durant and LeBron, easily the two best scorers and best players in the league right now, weren’t content with being content – for lack of a better way to say it – and worked to improve their game and implement their teammates.
Now we admire the beauty that is Carmelo Anthony’s stat sheet. First thing to note? Carmelo has never had 4 APG though a full season in his entire career. He has never shot 50% throughout a season in his career. In fact he has only shot over 47% three times in his career. While the career stats of Durant and LeBron shows a player who is constantly working to improve himself, Carmelo’s stats paint the picture of someone who is content to stay the way he his.
And not only that, but someone whose primary focus is scoring. This season (2013) Carmelo Anthony was second in the NBA in field goal attempts. Durant was number one with 1688 FGA and Carmelo had 1643. Here’s what worries me. Durant hit 849 of his 1688 shots (roughly 50%) and posted 445 assists while Anthony hit 743 field goals (roughly 45%) and only tailed 242 assists. To me, that’s a player who jacks up shots and doesn’t pass the ball.
Sure some people will make the argument that Durant had better talent around him, but don’t forget, there was a time this season when the Thunder were without Westbrook and Durant went into insane mode and was score buckets at will. Yet he was still able to tally 5.5 APG this season.
Anthony’s career stats make me think that he feels fine where he is and doesn’t seem to see a need to get better.
DEFENSE WINS. TELL ME OTHERWISE.
Defense wins championships. That is about the most cliche thing in all of sports (particularly football) but if last years Super Bowl taught us anything, its that the cliche is alive and well.
If you have read any article I have ever written about sports, you know how I feel about defense. That’s all I want. I would so much rather have a shot blocking, rim protecting, 2008 model of Howard, the Brow, center than any scoring superstar. Give me Bill Russell. Give me Dikembe Mutombo. Give me Serge Ibaka. Defense won us the Championship in 2008. The Lakers were terrified of the paint because defensive player of the year KG was lurking, ever ready to block or hit you.
The Celtics have been missing that player since KG left, and really a few years before that. Really since Perk left.
Carmelo doesn’t fix that need. And neither does Kevin Love. If the reason people feel like we need Anthony is because of scoring, lets not forget that Love finished this year a point behind Carmelo in scoring. Love 26.1 PPG and Anthony had 27.4 PPG. And (since I have now fallen in love with numbers) Love did this on 1421 field goal attempts, while being able to dish out 341 assists (4.4 APG). Love gives the Celtics plenty of scoring. Adding Anthony isn’t really going to help any since both players need the ball to score. You can’t expect Anthony to take is 1600 shots along with Love’s 1400 and add in Rondo, Green, Kelly, Pressey, Bayless, you get the point.
I don’t want to be the Knicks where we just hope we outscore the other team. I want defense. Last June (back in 2013), ESPN New York’s Ian Begley interviewed one NBA scout and asked him about what Carmelo can do to improve himself as a player. While the scout had interesting thoughts on Anthony’s offensive game, it’s what he said about Anthony’s defense that is the most revealing:
“At times he just gives up on plays a little bit, as opposed to being locked in all the time…It’s not that he can’t do it. He can be a really good defensive player. He can defensive rebound, he can keep guys in front, he can pressure the ball. So when you see him [give up], you become a little disappointed because you know he can do that. He can do anything on the basketball floor. He sort of cheats the game a little bit in that regard.”
Watching this video, you can see what the scout was talking about.
Anthony just looks a times lost and no sure what is going on. Some people argue that his defense suffers because he’s using all his energy on the offensive side of the ball, which maybe true, but it seems to me that the glory doesn’t come in playing lock down defense. The glory comes from scoring a lot, dunking, and hitting clutch shots. So that’s all he does, because that’s all he cares about.
My final problem with Carmelo, I promise.
Carmelo Anthony thinks he’s an alpha dog. But he’s not. ESPN’s Chris Broussard asked four NBA executives if Anthony could be the focal point of a championship winning team. The overwhelming answer was no. One Western exec summed it up perfectly:
“I love him as a player. I just don’t think he’s your alpha male. He can’t be your No. 1 guy. He’s kind of like Clyde Drexler. As the alpha male in Portland, Clyde never got over the top. But when he went to Houston and was the No. 2 guy to Hakeem Olajuwon, he won… I would love to have him as a second guy. But as your alpha male? He’s not going to win anything like that. He’s kind of like the 2013 version of Stephon Marbury. He’s not as bad as Stephon, but he’s got Steph tendencies.”
Anthony needs to have someone on a team to put him in line. Right now the Celtics don’t have anyone on the roster who can put Anthony in his place. In fact, we have our own Alpha Dog who thinks he’s an Alpha Dog but probably really isn’t an Alpha Dog. Looking at you Rondo. Rondo is great, don’t get me wrong, but he – just like Carmelo – can’t be the focal point of a championship team. In 2008, that person was KG. KG kept everyone in line, kept Rondo focused, kept Pierce in line, kept the team together. He was the unarguable leader on the C’s. Celtics don’t have that now.
When Anthony has someone to put him in his place, that’s when he plays his best. It happened when he was on the USA Olympic team and he played excellently. He was great in the second role, but it’s something he will not give up willingly.
Anthony loves the spotlight and I honestly think that he loves it more than winning a championship. If he really wanted that championship, he’d be sprinting out of New York to go join the Bulls or even the Lakers if Kobe can come back healthy. Really any team that is just missing one piece, that’s where Anthony should be hauling ass to. But he’s not. Why? Because New York is the social capital of the world. That’s where the spotlight is, and he wants to live in the spot light for as long as possible.
And lets also realize that in the shittyness that was the East, the shittyness that saw the Atlanta Hawks make the playoffs, Carmelo Anthony – the supposed fourth or fifth NBA star – couldn’t lead the Knicks to a playoff berth. He couldn’t do that. That’s pitiful. There is zero excuse for that. LeBron had been doing it for years out in Cleveland, and that organization is more backwards than the Knicks!
So first, if you’ve managed to read up to this point, congrats. Looking back over this, this is a college essay. But nevertheless, I believe my point is well made. Carmelo Anthony doesn’t bring anything other than selfish scoring to any team he joins. He doesn’t play defense, he doesn’t pass the ball and he’s starting to reach Josh Smith levels of ball heaving that I can’t agree with.
The Celtics don’t need Anthony. Get Love for now, let him and Rondo build some chemistry for a few seasons. You don’t need to pull a 2008 and get a Big Three over night. That shit is rare. Super rare. Getting Love will make you a playoff team. Us Celtics fans can live with that. I’m fine being a playoff team for a few years and then adding that third piece.
And lets not forget, that we are in the East and for the next two or three years, all roads to the finals go through Miami, and even if you think otherwise, Rondo, Love and Anthony are not gonna beat LeBron, Wade, Bosh in the next year or so. Wait for the chemistry to grow between our two best players, let the Heat get just a bit older and Wade break both his legs trying to draw a foul. Let the East open up a little bit. Then get that third player. Build the Big Three. Then attack.
Carmelo Anthony is not the final piece to a championship puzzle.
Cover photo credit: somosnba.com