LeBron James helped the Heat to one of the most impressive streaks ever. Kevin Durant is trying to win a fourth consecutive scoring title (and unlike scoring title holders like Allen Iverson, Durant is a legitimate scorer). Melo has been playing great recently. Is he making a decent claim as an MVP candidate? Of course not! I consider the MVP race a two horse race between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. But let’s tack Melo on and see why he’s still not up to snuff.
Currently Kevin Durant sits at 28.0 points per game. Carmelo Anthony‘s 36 point game in the most recent win against the Thunder actually moved him into first place at 28.4 points per game. LeBron James sits in fourth place behind Kobe Bryant, who’s at 26.9 points per game. Except, this is the wrong way to look at it. You see, every time a player takes a shot they cost their team a valuable possession. So what happens if we include misses in the equation?
- Kevin Durant – 6.3 net points per game
- LeBron James – 5.8 net points per game
- Carmelo Anthony – 3.1 net points per game
Kevin Durant is a scoring machine! Melo has taken 24 more shots than Kevin Durant (despite playing in fourteen fewer games). Yet he has scored 364 fewer points. Kevin Durant shoots a lot, but he does it efficiently. Melo shoots even more than Durant but doesn’t do it nearly as well. James is in the running with Durant, but still isn’t at the same level.
The Knicks have won twelve straight games and Melo is currently riding a hot streak. He scored 50 points against Boston, followed that with two forty point outings, and just capped it off with a 36 point performance against the Thunder. Yes, Melo’s last four games are quite impressive.
LeBron and Durant are no strangers to hot streaks though. From November 24th through December 7th, Durant had seven consecutive games where he played over three times as well as an average player in each game. From February 3rd through February 23rd LeBron had ten games where he played over three times as well as an average player in each game!
There’s another streak worth mentioning too. From February 13th through March 13th Melo had nine straight games where he played at a below average level. Do you know the longest LeBron and Durant have played at a below average level? Two games! In fact, Melo’s February streak had as many below average games as LeBron and Durant have put up all season (9).
Take out the bad?
I decided to give Melo one last chance to compete. I removed all of Melo’s below average games from this season, which, for the record, is 24. If I calculate the Wins Produced per 48 minutes (WP48) of Melo’s remaining games, Melo’s WP48 sits at 0.275 (almost three times an average player). This is indeed star level. However, even after removing his worst games of the season, it’s still below LeBron’s 0.329 WP48 and Durant’s 0.308 WP48.
Melo’s performance sits right about average for a small forward and below average for a power forward. Yes, he’s played well as of late. However, in order to consider Melo a great player, there’s a lot you have to ignore. Yes, Melo’s points are impressive if you ignore the misses. Yes, Melo’s good games are impressive, if you ignore the bad games. I’m not worried about Melo winning MVP (despite the fact that it would be good for me). That said, even his recent play does not elevate him to the level of Durant and LeBron. Their play this season is unreal.