Carmelo Anthony says he still wants the last shot, but insists that he is not selfish:
“Of course I want to take the last shot, let’s be quite frank: I’ve been doing for nine years already, and I’ve made a ton of them,” he said.
OK, so let’s be clear. Carmelo Anthony does make last shots. In fact, he makes them quite well. A 48% clip on final shots is a big deal.
Except… it turns out there is more to a basketball game than the last 5 seconds. Games are often decided by more points, and those games are not quite as peachy for Anthony.
In the rest of the game, Anthony is, well, not that great.
He shoots at lower efficiency and rebounds at lower rates, despite his gaudy topline numbers, which mostly come from an ungodly number of shot attempts. The league average small forward takes 16.5 shots per 48 minutes; Anthony takes 26.3. For comparison, Lebron James averages 24.0, Kevin Durant takes 24.7, and Luol Deng takes 18.1. Anthony is not better at shooting than these players, nor are his teammates that much worse. Anthony loves isolation, though, and enjoys shooting the basketball, like many basketball players.
Unfortunately, it turns out that winning basketball is not dependent on the number of shots you take, but on the percentage of shots you make and the number of possessions your team has. And that makes Anthony much less valuable than many other small forwards in the league.
We have a problem in sports where we look at the magnificent last minute shot and the drama that it entails, and we believe that value in a player resides in that moment (see, Aaron Boone, “Big Shot” Billups, Adam Vinatieri, etc.). In fact, most games are decided by more than the last minute shot, and even in the NBA playoffs, wins by more than 4 points are more common than wins than 3 or fewer.
In short, by continuing to play basketball and jack up a huge number of shot attempts despite being inefficient at making them, Anthony is the definition of selfish, regardless of how many times the final shot makes it.
Baseball starts in, like, three days, so basketball will probably take a backseat, but it’s worth noting that the points in any game count the same, no matter what form they take.