While I may think Phil Jackson is acting like a complete and utter…you-know-what…in regards to his treatment of Carmelo Anthony, I do have to agree with his overall opinion of the future Hall-of-Famer; Carmelo just isn’t that good anymore.
Can he become a contributor on a championship team? Of course! With the right coaching and players, Anthony would be a fantastic 3rd or 4th option. I’d love to see him on the Clippers in that role, or the Celtics somehow next year. But even if he does get to enjoy the postseason again after a four year hiatus, he will no longer the best former Syracuse Orange in the NBA.
Is that possible? Unfortunately so.
Hey, he had a great, 14 year-run. In fact, during his first 14 seasons Carmelo obviously led the NBA among ex-Cuse players in scoring, minutes, rebounding, etc, but he also led them almost every season in all of the advanced metrics.
Stat-nerds loved VORP (Value Over Replaced Player), PER (Player Efficiency Rating), and WS (Win Shares) as true indicators of a player’s performance and standing amongst his peers.
For 14 years Carmelo had the most Win Shares among all ex-Cuse guys, and it hasn’t been close since his second season. In 13 out of his 14 seasons, he led the Orange alum in VORP and PER, with only Jason Hart outperforming him back in 2004-2005 (Melo’s second year) by slim margins in both categories.
At this point, it might be fair to ask how I can claim Melo will not be the best of the former Boeheim disciples next season. Well, his numbers have been on a steady decline over the past four (non-playoff) seasons.
In fact, his PER this past season had the furthest season-to-season drop of his career, and was his lowest since that second season that keeps coming up. His VORP was tied for the second worst of his career, and his WS was also the second worst, with the worst being just two years ago. He’s been falling, and unfortunately he hasn’t hit bottom.
So if Melo keeps slipping, who will rise to take his place? You would think it’d be one of the five former Orange in the playoffs this year, and Jerami Grant could get there, but for next season and the immediate future it has to be Dion Waiters.
Yes, Waiters Island will be the best Syracuse has to offer in the NBA.
Now in his 4th season, Dion continues to mature into a reliable offensive threat. And it’s not empty points anymore. His PER and VORP were career highs, and his WS was the second best.
But dig a little deeper and the stats back what the eye test told us, Waiters was Miami’s most important player down the stretch and his twelve-game absence at the end of the season cost them a playoff spot. The Heat were 27-19 when Waiters played (23-13 when he logged at least 25 minutes).
Anthony hasn’t meant something to a team in playoff contention for almost the last quarter of his career.
Waiter has a younger energetic team on the upswing that knows how to use his talents.
Melo, if he stays with the Knicks, will continue wasting his final years in a dysfunctional organization with no plan in sight. If he finds his way to a contender, he’ll change the narrative, but his individual contributions will be limited.
It’s going to be close next season, but assuming both players continue their upward/downward trends, I think Waiters will have better WS and VORP than Melo. PER will be a tougher victory, but not out of reach.
Obviously it’s not even close, and likely never will be when we look at the complete careers of both players. In fact, I don’t know if another Cuse player will ever have a career that rivals Carmelo Anthony’s individual brilliance and achievements.
But his reign as Syracuse’s top export in the NBA will come to an end next year. Long live Waiters Island.