Where do you draft 'Melo?

Here's what we had to say about Carmelo Anthony heading into the 2010-11 season. (Please note - there's a decent chance that I wrote this... I honestly don't remember.)

If not the poster boy, per se, Anthony is at least an object lesson in the importance of understanding a player's value across all eight or nine categories (as the case may be) and not just his point-per-game averages. One could easily see that Anthony finished third in scoring last year (with 28.2 points per contest); recognize that last year's second-place scorer, LeBron James, is due for a slight decline now that he's with Miami; and figure that Anthony is a good bet as a top-10 pick. One would be unwise to come to that conclusion, however, as – among a standard pool of players in a 12x13 league – Anthony is only above average in scoring and free-throw shooting. Rebounds, assists, threes, steals, blocks and field goal percentage – Anthony does enough in these categories not to hurt his value, but not so much as to make him an early or even mid-first rounder. In leagues where turnovers count, his value takes another slight hit: his 3.0 turnovers per game last season really aren't bad for someone with Anthony's scoring ability, but they still count in the tally sheet. Moreover, there's the issue of Anthony's health. Knee and ankle injuries limited him to 69 games last year; the year before, he played in only 66. Of course, there's never sure a thing – anyone who drafted Chris Paul last year understands that fact all too well – and Anthony's still a big-time producer when healthy.
If I did write that, I stand by it -- it was 100% accurate at the time. But after watching Anthony work in Mike D'Antoni's system during March and April, I can't help wonder if we need to re-think our evaluation. Obviously, Anthony is still going to score in D'Antoni's offense. But his stat lines could be a lot less one-dimensional in New York's system.

We've already seen him with the freedom to take a lot more threes - and the ability to can a healthy percentage of them. He made 53 of 125 threes in 27 games as a Knick, as compared with 42 of 126 in 50 games with the Nuggets.

The jump to just under two made threes per game would be enough to nudge Anthony up a couple of spots on the ol' cheat sheet... but can't he do more? Mike D'Antoni is talking about 'Melo as a regular triple-double threat, and I'm not sure he's wrong. He doesn't have the reputation of a great rebounder, but in four playoff games against the Celtics, 'Melo averaged 10.3 boards - with 4.8 assists per game for good measure.

I think the Knicks will look to put the ball in Anthony's hands to initiate the offense next season - which could mean that assist number is no fluke. And given that he'll be sharing the court with Amar'e Stoudemire - not exactly Dennis Rodman on the boards - I wouldn't be at all surprised if his 2011-12 rebounding average sets a new career high.

Am I falling for the small sample size and looking for a bright spot? Maybe. But I can't help wondering if Anthony is a top-ten fantasy player for 2011-12.


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