Last season was one of the worst statistical seasons of Carmelo Anthony’s nine year career. There were many factors that attributed to his poor season such as feuding with the coach, various injuries and an early season experiment as a “point forward”. But for all the excuses made in Anthony’s favor, I think there is one factor that hasn’t been talked about enough.Across the board, Anthony’s scoring stats were down from what we are accustomed to seeing. Except for one statistic; his three point attempts. Last season, Anthony shot a career high in 3 point attempts, 3.7 attempts/game (3PA) and 3.9 per 36 minutes. He shot just 33.5% from downtown and is a 32.2% career shooter from outside the arc. I believe there is a direction correlation between Anthony’s 43% shooting last season, second lowest in his career, and the high volume of threes that he took.
My stance isn’t that he should stop shooting threes, but I believe he’d be better suited to shoot less of them. As he showed in the Olympics, although the three line is shorter, and as he has shown in the NBA, Anthony can shoot from downtown. When left open, he can be a deadly spot up shooter from outside. But at a 32.2% career clip, shooting three pointers are not the strength of Carmelo Anthony’s offensive game. Anthony’s scoring repertoire is as diverse as any. On two point shots last season, Anthony shot 50% when shooting as a pick and roll ball handler. He shot 44.3% on post ups. At the rim, Anthony shot 60% and had a higher offensive rebounding rate than LeBron James. So why shoot so many three pointers? Even when Anthony was spotted up, he only hit 33% of his threes. If we want to look at true shooting percentage (TS%), which takes into account the value of free throws and three pointers, Anthony still posted the second lowest percentage of his career at 52.5%.
For a case similar to Carmelo Anthony’s, lets look at Kobe Bryant. Bryant’s season mirrored Anthony’s. Bryant took 4.9 threes per game, which was the 5th highest amount of his career. He hit just 30.3% of those threes, the third worst of his career, and shot just 43% overall, also the third worst of his career. Bryant’s 52.5 TS% was his by far his worst in the past 10 years (TS% has only been recorded since the 2002-2003 season).
By contrast, lets observe LeBron James last season. The Miami forward made a point of shooting fewer three pointers then he had in the past. At 2.4 3PA, James shot the least amount of threes in his career. As a result, he not only shot the highest 3P% of his career, but also shot the highest FG% and TS% of his career. LeBron had absolutely his most dominant season last year. Instead of being able to slow him down by forcing him into a high number of outside shots, opponents really had no answer for James last season. His new post up game helped him to take advantage of his height and athleticism as he shot 49% on post ups.
The thing is, Carmelo Anthony has a post up game. He has a very good post up game. Anthony is a great mid-range shooter and is probably the best one on one offensive player in the league. This man can get his own shot whenever he wants. He has the size, quickness and skill to get shots close to the rim whenever he wants. In shooting so many threes, Anthony is wasting his talents. Again, I’m not saying he shouldn’t ever shoot threes. But when he does, he needs to be smart about it. Less contested threes, more mid-range shots, more post ups, more getting to the rim. If Anthony does these things, he will have a more efficient scoring season.
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