How Carmelo Anthony helps the Knicks score more efficiently beyond his own points

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It’s been nearly a week since Carmelo Anthony had 62 points and zero assists against the Charlotte Bobcats. The amazement over his scoring and giggling over his passing has begun to fade.

But the deep-seated belief that Melo is a one-dimensional chucks who doesn’t make his teammates better persists, as strong as ever.

The perception just isn’t accurate, though

The New York Knicks’ offensive rating with Melo on the court is 105.4 (equivalent of ninth in the NBA) and 97.0 (equivalent of 30th in the league). Melo’s singular offensive brilliance somewhat explains the disparity – just not all of it.

As Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal explains in great depth, Melo is a very effective passer. A couple examples:

Anthony’s teammates shoot 47.6% (126-of-264) after receiving one of his passes, much better than their 43.4% (1,203-of-2,772) mark in other situations.

But Melo doesn’t even need to pass to help his teammates score more efficiently. Simply being on the floor is enough.

Nate Silver researched the phenomenon a few years ago, and he found Nuggets players scored more efficiently in seasons they spent with Melo relative to seasons they spent on other teams. Back then though, Silver’s results were limited by the data available. He couldn’t separate how well players shot within a given season when playing with Melo and when not, and comparing a player across multiple seasons brings in many other unwanted variables.

Now we can easily smooth those rough edges, and Silver’s conclusions still appear true.

Eleven of Melo’s teammates this season have taken both 30 shots with him on the floor and 30 shots with him on the bench. Of those 11, nine are shooting a higher effective field-goal percentage when Melo plays (Tyson Chandler and Pablo Prigioni being the exceptions).

Here’s how the effective field-goal percentages compare for all 11, with Melo on (orange) and off (blue), via nbawowy:

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Why does this happen?

A few reasons stand out:

1. If Melo is a black hole on offense, he not only sucks in the ball, but the defense too. Few players attract as much defensive attention as Melo, and that obviously frees space for his floormates.

2. Most opponents guard Melo with their best wing defender. That means Melo’s teammates are guarded by relatively lesser defenders.

3. Every time the shot clock is on the verge on expiring – a common occurrence for even the best-run offenses – the Knicks try to get the ball to Melo. As they should. He’s more likely to score in those situations than any other Knick. By accepting all those necessary low-efficiency shots, Melo protects the efficiency of his teammates.

Measures of efficiency that look only at the common box score when capture this nuance. They’ll just see Melo’s relative modest shooting percentages and low assist totals.

But dig deeper, and Melo’s value to New York’s offense becomes more apparent.

As if the offensive value of someone who can score 62 points in a game needs greater explanation, anyway.

Thunder pick up Paul George in his return to Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left, but George got a steal then hit a couple free throws.

The Pacers’ winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer’s blockbuster trade, didn’t go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn’t have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists.

The result: Both teams struggled.

Indiana led 27-22 after one but gave the lead right back by allowing Oklahoma City to start the second quarter on a 9-0 spurt.

After the Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, the Thunder closed the half on a 9-3 spurt to make it 51-46.

The trend continued in the second half.

Indiana charged back to take a 63-59 lead before the Thunder used an 11-2 run to pull out to a 73-69 lead going into the fourth.

Oklahoma City extended the lead to 92-81 with 5:16 to go but only scored six points the rest of the way. That was just enough to hold on.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Oklahoma City is 4-10 on the road. … Oklahoma City got its first series split with the Pacers since 2012-13. … Oklahoma City had 17 offensive rebounds and was 13 of 29 on 3-pointers.

Pacers: Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals. … Made 11 3s but fell to 14-3 when making 10 or more 3-pointers in a game this season. … Center Myles Turner had three blocks, his 12th game this season with three or more. … Former Colts coach Tony Dungy attended the game. He’s in town for Thursday night’s NFL game between the Colts and Broncos.

ALL-STAR DAY

The Pacers got a win before they even took the floor.

A little less than three hours before tip, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Indiana would host the 2021 All-Star Game. It will be the first time the Pacers have hosted the marquee event since 1985.

The move comes seven months after Larry Bird hand-delivered the formal proposal at the league’s New York headquarters in an IndyCar.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Faces Philadelphia on Friday, trying to improve to 17-1 in the series since moving to Oklahoma City.

Pacers: Host Detroit on Friday, seeking a seventh straight home win in the series.

 

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.