Kevin Durant vs. Carmelo Anthony
Recently Bill Simmons wrote an article on Grantland regarding Carmelo Anthony. Since reading this I have closely looked at the numbers, and really started to wonder what the big difference right now is between Carmelo and Durant. Yes, I know Durant is still young, and this year took a big step in his game, but for the past few years it has been fairly common to rank LeBron and Durant 1 and 2 in the league, then a big mess of players, while Carmelo has been shunned. For their careers the numbers are dangerously close..
Carmelo - 25.3 PPG, 3.1 APG, 6.5 RPG 45% FG
Durant - 27.4 PPG, 3.5 APG, 6.9 RPG 47% FG
Durant has a slight edge in all categories, but very slight. Why is it that Durant is universally accepted as the 2nd best player in the league, and people question if a team can win a championship with Carmelo as their best player?
While Camelo Anthony has a knack for shooting the ball, a dangerously quick release, the perfect body of a power forward, as well as very good handles for his position, Carmelo offer little else (don't get me wrong, he's still one heck of a player). Even though Durant may not have much bulk, Durant's shot is as equally (if not more because of his rediculously lengthy limbs) deadly than Melo's. But where Durant beats Melo is his understanding of basketball. Not only does this cause Durant to take smarter shots, move without the ball well (when he wants to), but he also causes the players around him to play better. With an excellent feel for the game, when Durant wants, he came take control of his team and play the point position.
If you watch Durant's interviews, it is obvious that he considers himself a student of the game and works to understand the whole game compleatly, which is why he could assume the role of the team leader (point gaurd). While Carmelo is extreamly bless with natural talent and a legendary shooting form, once again, his understanding of basketball isn't very deep, at least nowhere as much as Durant's: Durant has spin moves, floaters, much better handles, court awareness, and opponent awareness (he is very good at spotting a mismatch on him and instantly capitalizing on it, while Carmelo, regardless of his opponent, usually defaults to the same couple of moves). This is evident in Melo's poor shot selection as well as his narrow move sets he uses to get to the rim.
While Melo doesn't need a wide arrays of move (proven by his amazing production), his lack of understanding the basketball game, prevents him from taking over a game. In order for a player to take control of a game, they need to understand their opponents, their team, and specifically why their team is losing. It is hard to imagine Carmelo with that kind of insight, while Durant is constantly observing the whole court. If you were to compare their game, you would see there is a lot less wasted movement with Durrant, while Melo seems to still be a little lost on what will work and not.
Nonetheless, I am very excited what Derrick and Phil will do with Melo and how they will develop him.