Comparing Bernard King to Melo
From ESPN Insider. Seems appropriate to compare the two upon Bernard Kings induction to the HOF. I know Kiya would disagree but I think Melo gets to the HOF sooner than Bernard did.
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Comparing Melo and Bernard
King was Anthony's idol, but has the new Knick surpassed the legend?
Updated: September 5, 2013, 12:52 PM ET
By [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...] | ESPN Insider
http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2011/0225..._kingb_576.jpgGetty ImagesHow do Carmelo Anthony and Bernard King, two New York hoops stars, stack up?
Hoops history is in the air and on the airwaves this week, with NBA legends Bernard King and Gary Payton headlining a 12-person class being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend.
One current player long linked to King is fellow [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...] small forward [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...]. Anthony has stated numerous times that King is his basketball idol, and when he was growing up, he used to study video of the fellow Brooklyn native. King, despite an [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...] during last year's playoffs, has in turn spoken glowing of Anthony over the years and declared that Anthony the superior player.
If anyone out there has followed my NBA writings over the years, there are a couple of things they've probably noticed. First, I've tended to be [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...] on Anthony. Another thing is that I pass up no opportunity to work a Bernard King reference into [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...] I possibly can. That's because Anthony and I have something in common: King is my all-time favorite player, too. Suffice to say, all of the Anthony-King comparisons that have cropped up since Melo was traded to New York have tended to draw my scrutiny.
One thing about Anthony that has always puzzled me in reference to his admiration of King is that, if he was modeling his game after his hero, he seems to have overlooked some key things, which I'll get into.
However, comparing the two players is more than a navel-gazing exercise. With the Knicks on the cusp of what I think will be a much more challenging season than people realize, there are key lessons Anthony can still learn from King.
Stylistic tendencies and intangibles
First and foremost, King and Anthony had very different body types. King was listed as 6-foot-7, 205 pounds, but on video he looks at least an inch shorter than that. Anthony is every bit of the 6-8, 230 pounds at which he is listed. Anthony's size, strength and deceptive quickness are the traits upon which he's built his game. Before his knee injury in 1985, King had transcendent quickness and leaping ability, and he was much faster up and down the floor.
While you can especially see vestiges of King's game when Anthony goes to spin moves in the lane, he relies more on size and power in the paint than quickness. King was a blur when he caught the ball with his back to the basket, and he had an exceptionally quick release that allowed him to thrive amid the longer bodies coming over to defend him.
Both players are/were exceptional in the midrange and, in general, were off the charts when it comes to shooting touch. King didn't have Anthony's range, which is a by-product of their respective eras. Other than Larry Bird, the 3-point shot wasn't a huge part of the games of any of the golden-era small forwards of the 1980s.
[+] Enlargehttp://a.espncdn.com/photo/2013/0427...ny_gb1_200.jpgAP Photo/Winslow TownsonContested jumpers have been a hallmark of Anthony's game.
While both players are/were great pure shooters, the biggest differences between them are shot selection and decision-making. While King had a terrific midrange touch, he rarely passed up an opportunity to improve his position on the floor, while Anthony's biggest weakness has always been a tendency to launch contested jumpers. Also, while Anthony still tends to pound the rock too long in isolation, undermining his ability to better those around him, King either made his moves immediately or passed it off.
Finally, there has always been something about the two that I've taken as a key symbolic difference: Whereas Anthony always plays with a kind of half-smile on his face, whether he's happy, mad or somewhere in between, when King was on the court, his brow was always crunched into an intense scowl. It was as if he were not just irritated that opponents would try to stop him, but he was angry they'd even try.
Comparing per-game averages of King and Anthony is deceptive because of how different the NBA is compared to 25-30 years ago. During King's best seasons, the average team got about 10 more possessions per game than it does now. That means that the per-game similarities between the two aren't as great as they seem on the surface.
Through 10 seasons, King averaged 22.9 points, 6.3 boards and 3.1 assists. Entering his 11th season, Anthony is at 25.0 points, 6.3 boards and 3.1 assists. The big difference is in efficiency. King shot 53.5 percent during his first 10 seasons; Anthony is at 45.6. The gap is still there even when accounting for Anthony's huge edge in 3-point shooting. King's effective field goal percentage was 53.5 percent, while the 3s edge Anthony up to 48 percent.
In this case, making adjustments for pace and era only echoes what we see in the traditional categories. The rebounding percentages are almost identical. Anthony has a better assist rate and a lower turnover rate. King remains the more efficient scorer. Through 10 seasons, King used 26.7 percent of his team's possessions, while Anthony's career mark is at 31.7. King had put up a .572 true shooting percentage, which incorporates free throw shooting as well as 3s, while Anthony is at .545. The league level of true shooting percentage during the years in question was nearly identical, so the verdict of King as the more efficient player holds up.
We can assume this is due to shot selection, rather than accuracy. While we don't have shooting location data on King, virtually all of his shots were 2s. Anthony's career mark inside the arc is 47.7 percent. He's hit 60 percent of his career shots at the rim, per HoopData.com, which is about 7 percent better than the NBA average. However, he's quite a bit worse than the league mark in the zones between the rim and long-2 range, and last year was really the first time Anthony de-emphasized midrange shots to the extent that it allowed him to approach King-like efficiency.
If we had access to King's shooting breakdown, we'd almost certainly see this as the chief difference between the two, with a shot chart that clustered attempts much closer to the rim.
Anthony's biggest edge over King is durability. King not only was injured more often and missed time because of off-court trouble, he also spent more time on the bench. Over their first 10 seasons, Anthony played 98 more games and averaged 1.6 more minutes per contest. This plays into Anthony's 72-60 edge in Basketball Reference's [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...]. King finished with 75 career win shares, so Anthony would have to retire before the 2013-14 season to avoid passing his idol. As for [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...], King's first couple of years aren't included because the metric only covers the 3-point era. However, for the seasons we have, Anthony holds a 75-54 edge.
However, King's peak was just as spectacular as any stretch Anthony has had. From 1981 to 1985, King put up 42 WARP with an individual winning percentage of .583. Anthony's best five-year stretch is the one he's on now: He's at 43 WARP over the last five seasons, and his individual winning percentage has been .580. That's about as close as you can get. It should also be noted that at the time King blew out his knee, he was still on the ascension. His winning percentage in that fateful 1984-85 season -- .649 -- was his career best, and is better than anything Anthony has done.
Anthony already has done much more outside of his peak -- which could persist for a few more years -- than King did in his, which is why Melo stands as the better player. He's more durable, and despite his reputation, he has a better all-around game. However, it's King's edge in scoring efficiency that serves as the example Melo should be following. It's this very shortcoming that has been at the root of most of the criticism he's heard over the years, and it's not too late for him to evolve.