Wilson Chandler vs Carmelo Anthony

Someone asked for more basketblogging, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to say that I think the value of acquiring Carmelo Anthony is being widely overstated in the basketball press. Like suppose you had to choose between Anthony and Knicks small forward Wilson Chandler, both of whom play 35 minutes per game this season.

Well if you care about rebounds, Anthony is doing quite a bit better, snagging 8.3 per game. His career average is only 6.3 but he’s having a career-high rebounding year right now. Chandler grabs 6.3 rebounds per game. Advantage Anthony. They’re the same in steals, Chandler blocks more (1.4 per game versus 0.6) and Anthony turns it over more than twice as often (1.4 to 2.9 per game). Then of course there’s scoring. Anthony, I’ve been told by broadcasters, is the “best pure scorer in the game” reeling in an impressive 23.9 points per game while Chandler settles for a measly 17.7 PPG. But then again, Anthony’s TS% is only .527 while Chandler’s .579 is considerably more impressive.

Opinions differ about the merits of volume scoring versus efficiency. But Carmelo Anthony is currently paid $17 million to Chandler $2.1 million, so you would need to think Anthony was a lot better for a straight-up swap to look appealing. What’s more, Anthony is currently 26 years old and looking for a maximum extension, meaning that four years from now you’ll be paying him much more, though he’s overwhelmingly likely to be a worse player by then. Chandler will be getting paid more four years from now than he’s paid today, but he’ll still be cheaper than Anthony and he’ll be three years younger to boot. In general, it seems to me that NBA GMs underplay the problems with giving out max deals to Anthony-type players. Given the scale of the annual raises normally built into NBA contracts, a max extension for a 26 year-old is a kind of leveraged investment in a depreciating asset. There are circumstances under which that might make sense, but they’re pretty rare.