Carmelo Anthony overrated? The Wins Produced system says "yes"

In recent days, we've been musing about Melo. Will Carmelo Anthony re-sign with the Nuggets? Join Chris Paul and Amare Stoudemire in New York? Team up with Kobe Bryant on the Lakers?

Now, however, a system set up by two economists suggests that Melo's not all he's cracked up to be.

This theory comes from SNY.TV's Michael Salfino. In a post headlined "LeBron's Gone, but Knicks Must Move On," he makes note of "economist Dave Berri's wins produced formula" -- a reference to Stumbling on Wins, a book by David J. Berri and Martin B. Schmidt that attempts to determine which statistics most directly translate to victories in the four major U.S. pro sports.

By this measure, Anthony doesn't fare especially well. Salfino again:

The long-term plan [for the Knicks] seems to be to wait to sign either Carmelo Anthony and/or Chris Paul. Berri's system has Paul as the 21st best player last year overall (No. 4 point guard). But it has Anthony as 20th just among small forwards overall and 31st in that group if you look at production per 48 minutes. This system values rebounding and points per shot and not straight scoring, which it says is way overvalued.

Carmelo Anthony only the twentieth best small forward in the NBA? Are you kidding? But no: The Wins Produced Test Suite, a website that applies the Berri/Schmidt formula to a slew of NBA players, shows Melo waaaay down the list. He's behind something like eighty players in terms of win-generating productivity, including fellow Nuggets Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Chris "Birdman" Andersen and even Nenê. Here's a screen capture that'll give you an idea:

In answer to the most obvious question: No, I'm not buying this. Economists aren't sought after as NBA talent pickers for a reason, and those of us who've watched how much better the Nuggets have become since Melo's arrival can testify about how much he's helped the squad.

The stats do speak to certain deficiencies in his game. While he's become more well-rounded since he's come into the league, he's still mainly a scorer, and he doesn't always make the players around him significantly better. That's why Billups is such a valuable Nugget: He picks up the slack in this category.

That said, the Nuggets desperately need to keep Melo, no matter what this particular set of numbers suggest. Sorry, Dr. Dave.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts