When ever you ask someone for their list of the five best players in the league, it usually includes Carmelo Anthony.
Carmelo is as talented as anyone on the planet at putting the ball in basket. Yet, what does he do for his team beyond that?
He averages 3.1 assists per game for his career, and his career high for in a season is just 3.8 according to NBA.com. Kobe Bryant during his notorious ball hog year of 05-06, which included his famous 81 point game. Still found a way to accumulate a total of 4.5 assists a game.
Whenever you watch the New York Knicks play and the ball is in Carmelo’s hands. The rest of the team just watches him do isolation plays. Even if a double team comes, he routinely forces his shot. He rarely passes out of the double team. Due to his style of play there is never any cohesion to an offense led by Carmelo.
At six foot eight and 230 pounds Carmelo is the second biggest player to LeBron James at the SF/PF hybrid position. Even with his size advantage, he has never been anything more than an average rebounder. Since joining the Knicks he has taken a complete disinterest in attacking the offensive glass. The only time he comes up with boards on the defensive side is when the ball literally falls in his lap. When have you ever seen Carmelo make a conscience effort to dominant the boards for just one game?
For years analysts criticized LeBron for shooting too many threes and jumpers. They said that if he would just go to the post, he would dominate. Which he has this season, putting together a season as efficient as the NBA has ever seen. Yet, Carmelo continually flies under the radar when it comes to this type of criticism.
In his last full season in Denver he attempted 2.5 threes a game. Since joining the Knicks his averages have risen to 3.2 in then season split between Denver and New York, 3.7 last year, and 6.8 this season. Carmelo ranks third in the NBA at threes attempted this season. Carmelo is moving further and further away from the basket. He is only a .335 shooter from distance for his career. He has only shot .430 and .447 from the field in his two full seasons in New York. Carmelo will never be able to sniff the benchmark of efficient scorers, at .500 FG%.
Defensively Carmelo has career averages of 0.5 BPG and 1.1 SPG, which is very minimal for an elite player. He has never been considered in the top half of the league defensively. Let alone All-Defensive team caliber that should be expected of a top five player. He gives up 1.0 points per possession in a one on one defensive situation, which ranks in the bottom 15% of the league. Despite having physical tools that rivals any player in the league. He just never puts forth the consistent effort required to be a top tier defender.
Carmelo is still a deserving All Star due to his 28.6 PPG. He is certainly one of five best scorers in the league, but that doesn’t mean he is one of the five best players in the league.
Top five players should lead their teams consistently deep into the playoffs. Carmelo has only ever advanced past the first round of the playoffs once in his career.
Carmelo will never win a NBA title as the best player on his team. He could accomplish being a champion as a team's second best player, but not the best.
Top five players are dynamic on both ends of the floor. They are not just one dimensional scorers. No matter how good that scorer is.
Carmelo is a top 20 player in the NBA, but he is not a top five player.
All Statistics were gathered using NBA.com database