Melo is not a TRUE Superstar!

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Okafor's Corner

In the NBA, the word “superstar” has a dual meaning. The term can denote an athlete whose skills transcend their on-court prowess in ways that lead to greater attendance at games and greater television ratings. The term can also signify an athlete whose on-court game is of the elite class—the best of very the best.

What differentiates the two meanings is one’s status. To fall into the former group requires a fun playing style, a high level of production, and most importantly, high name-recognition. Performance is the only factor that matters when determining who falls into the latter category.

In the case of Carmelo Anthony, it is undeniable that he fits the mold of the players whose talents go beyond what they accomplish on the court. Melo plays an exciting brand of ball, has consistently put up numbers at a high level for many years, and is one of the most recognizable NBA players.

But to call him a superstar if his performance is solely considered would be misguided. Here are the reasons for why I believe that Melo is NOT a true superstar:

1. Defense

Carmelo Anthony is a very BAD defender. His complete disregard for that side of the ball is very disappointing considering the fact that he is capable of playing good defense night in and night out.’s Point Forward does an excellent job of detailing Melo’s failures on defense.

2. Playmaking

A playmaker is someone that can create for himself AND for others. In essence, playing with a playmaker will result in easier shots and presumably, better results for you. There are varying styles of playmaking. The typical playmaker is someone who employs the drive and dish method (i.e. LeBron James, Chris Paul, Deron Williams). Those players tend to drive past their defender using their superb dribbling skills and usually, will pass the ball to the open man when the defense converges on them.

The other style of playmaking centers on a player’s incredible shooting ability. Great shooters create open shots for their teammates because to counter the shooter’s range, help defense principles will have to be compromised. The players that fall in this category are Dirk Nowitzki and to a lesser extent, Kevin Durant. See’s Point Forward description of Dirk Nowitzki for more explanation.

There are also different levels of playmaking. For example, LeBron James is one of the best playmakers while Joel Anthony is one of the worst. As for Melo, he is somewhere in the middle. He has the requisite skills to be an excellent playmaker but his style of play prohibits a higher rating. He is neither an elite creator off the dribble nor do defenses fear his shooting ability similar to how defenses fear Nowitzki’s or Durant’s.

3. Playoff Success

In the eight years that Melo led his team to the playoffs, his team has been eliminated in the first round all but one time. Some people would excuse his team’s lack of success in the playoffs because he played in a very competitive Western Conference (true) and played with a weak supporting cast (false) for most of his career.

4. Melo is not a Top-7 Player

Every year, the number of players that comprise of the elite group fluctuates. The number is usually around seven, give or take 1-2. For this year, based on my observations, I believe that only seven players are currently true superstars and Melo is not in that group. He certainly is not a better player than LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, and Kevin Durant.

Now, a player can still be true superstar even if one or more of the aforementioned categories apply to them. For example, Kevin Garnett failed to lead the Timberwolves past the first round until his 8th season. But no one would question that during his prime, Kevin Garnett was a bona fide superstar. He played excellent defense, created plenty of open shots for his teammates, and was legitimately an elite player for many years.

Carmelo Anthony is a great talent but must improve on some areas before I will regard him as a true superstar. He is simply a star.

  1. Carmelo Defender says:

    1) “Anthony is a subpar defender, a master of lazy switches and emphatic pointing, through which he indicates that one of his teammates should very kindly guard the guy Carmelo was just guarding.” Is not a “detailed” account of his poor defense. I agree he struggles with switching but I think you need to provide. The link in the Point Forward link – a questionable source given its rating of Paul Pierce – shows that the team gaps in defense/offense are same on and off the court. If you believe good offense translates to good defense and vice versa then the figures presents do not point to a glaring issue.

    2) “He is neither an elite creator off the dribble nor do defenses fear his shooting ability similar to how defenses fear Nowitzki’s or Durant’s.” I think this is blatantly unfounded and more over false!

    3) Kevin Garnett in Minnesota was a superstar without playoff success. Unless you think he was not a superstar which you would have to argue.

    4) “This is an important distinction to make because I subscribe to the theory that a player should not be regarded as elite if they are not a top-7 player.” This important distinction…Why is seven more important than five? Six? ten? Is this a case where the gap between seven and six is the same as seven and eight? If so, whats so big about being seven?

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