Weekly Countdown (cont.)
On to the rest of the Countdown ...
4 Thoughts from Carmelo Anthony
The MVP candidate is averaging 28.8 points for the Nuggets, the No. 2 seed in the West.
On being more than a scorer. "As far as me making guys better -- passing the ball, hitting the open man more -- I think I've been doing that for awhile. And we need that. Everybody on this team, everybody in the NBA knows I can score the basketball. But that's not [the only thing] I want to be known for."
For much of his seven-year career, Anthony has been labeled as a one-dimensional scorer. "I think any time you do something so well, it takes away [from] all the other assets. You score the ball well, people say you need to pass the ball more. It's a double-edged sword for me."
Anthony said he draws strength from the progression of Kobe Bryant, whose priorities were questioned before he led the Lakers to the championship last year. "He's one of my close friends. I always look at his situation to see what he's been through, and he's been through all of that. People say he's shooting the ball too much, he's not passing the ball, that he only can score the basketball. He deals with all that stuff, or he dealt with it."
On what he would have thought as a rookie if he could've seen video of the way he plays today. "I always was looking forward to getting better in different aspects of the game. I damn sure wasn't looking forward to seven years from then. It was four or five tough years for me to get where I'm at right now. But I'm just getting started -- that's how I look at it. Just getting going."
Anthony believes he plays in the elite tier alongside Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. "I think I've done that. I've proved to myself, I've proved to everybody out there in the world. You talk about top players in this league, if I'm not mentioned -- and I'm not saying that to just toot my horn -- but when you mention the top players in the NBA, something's wrong if my name doesn't get mentioned."
On how the Nuggets no longer can focus on winning shoot-out games. "Yeah, especially me. I got to forget that I'm a scorer on the team. I got to forget that. If it takes me to drop my scoring down to 12, 13, 14 points to win a basketball game or win a championship, then I'm willing to do that."
On George Karl. Anthony used to battle with his coach, who is receiving Anthony's support as Karl undergoes treatment for throat and neck cancer. "We're very sensitive to this situation. We support him, we're here with him. I don't think he really want us to be down and be thinking about it. We're here fighting it with him.
"Of course we don't want to hear anybody that's close to us go through a situation like that. He's our head coach. He's been here with me for six years, so we've had a chance to grow with each other. Me, personally, I never want to see nobody go through that."
Their relationship has matured, says Anthony. "He was [new] as far as coming to the team, I was young [when I came into the NBA]. So I was still trying to learn the game, I was still thinking I can do it this way, and he's thinking I can do it another way. And, yeah, we did bump heads at certain times. I had to swallow a lot of my pride and ego, or check it at the door and say, 'If I want this to work, I'm going to have to be the bigger man."
Other young players might have demanded a trade or a coaching change. "I didn't. Actually, I fought for George to stay here -- his contract extensions and all of that stuff. I fought for him to be here. So, despite all the stuff that we done been through in the past, he's still here, and I don't even think about [the past] anymore."
3 Questions rescued from the spam
I see all the leading scorers, but a lot of them take a ton of shots to get their points. Who is the most efficient scorer in the NBA, meaning most points per shot?
The player whomakes the most of each shot is Orlando's Dwight Howard, who is averaging 1.82 points per field goal attempts this season. No one else is close in this category, as Corey Maggette and Nene Hilario are Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, with 1.57 points per attempt from the floor. Among the league's 10 most efficient stars are Chauncey Billups (1.54 PPS), Gerald Wallace and Paul Pierce (1.5) and LeBron James and Carl Landry (1.48).
This stat has long been a favorite of the Sacramento Kings and team president Geoff Petrie, with the understanding that 1.2 points per attempt was excellent and 1.4 was at the high end. Fifteen players are averaging at least 1.4, and 80 are at 1.2 or better.
In a recent Sports Illustrated NBA players poll, there were players who said they felt LeBron James is overrated. I couldn't believe it, and neither could about 100 other basketball fans I asked. This guy is the best player I've ever seen, bar none. The only thing he hasn't done is win a championship and it isn't his fault he has been surrounded by Damon Jones, Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall and others (Wally, you know who). It shows NBA players can hate and show bias with the best of them.
I agree with you, Peter. Two years ago I raised the question of whether James was underrated, considering how much he was accomplishing in the playoffs without starring talent around him. Three percent of the players polled by SI named LeBron as the league's most overrated player, but I'm guessing a lot of that feeling has to do with complaints that he benefits from so many calls at the end of the game. Defenders believe they won't receive a fair accounting against him in a close game. Perhaps they feel like he receives extra credit unfairly, since he hasn't even earned a championship yet.
But I'm with you. The guy is terrific in all areas. And as he has matured, he's learned to defend and make the hustle plays that separate championship teams from the rest. He was the most-hyped high-school player ever and he has managed to exceed expectations in the NBA. So how can he be overrated?
If Chris Bosh leaves, would it be ideal for the Raptors to get a true center with a real inside presence that they so sorely need? If so, which productive centers could the Raptors possibly get?
If Bosh leaves in a sign-and-trade, then the Raptors won't have much leverage to demand a top talent in return; if they demand too much, then Bosh can simply move instead to a team with cap space and leave Toronto with no compensation for his departure. The point here is that the Raptors won't be calling the shots if they can't retain Bosh.
That doesn't mean they can't come up with someone good. When Joe Johnson moved to Atlanta in a 2005 sign-and-trade, the Suns received Boris Diaw, who won the Most Improved Player award in his first year with Phoenix. When Grant Hill signed with Orlando in 2000, the Pistons received Ben Wallace, who became a four-time Defensive Player of the Year and a star on their 2003-04 championship team.
It's impossible to predict anyone the Raptors might receive in a sign-and-trade for Bosh as it depends on where he wants to play next season. Who knows, he may yet remain with Toronto.
2 NCAA picks
From Nuggets VP Mark Warkentien, a former assistant to Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV. "Let's say Duke gets to the Final Four, but I can't support them to win it because they beat us [in a 1991 semifinal upset of UNLV]. I like Syracuse to get there too because of Jim Boeheim -- he's 10 times better a coach than the public thinks he is, he has good players and he gets his stars in the right place. He basically plays six guys, which can be a good thing. The NCAA Tournament is like our playoffs: In the NBA you might play nine guys in the regular season, then you shorten your rotation to eight guys in the first round, seven guys in the next round and maybe you're basically down to six key guys after that. The NCAAs are the same: The further you go, the fewer you use. I think it helps him because he doesn't depend on that many guys to begin with, so they're used to the shorter rotations.
"My other two teams in the Final Four are Kentucky and Kansas, because they have the best players and their coaches know what they're doing. If it's a Kansas-Kentucky final, I always go with the best player.'' And this year, that player is Kentucky's John Wall.
From Pistons president Joe Dumars. "I'm going to pick teams that are typical Detroit Pistons teams. [To reach the Final Four], I like West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas A&M. I don't know if they can win it or not, but those are four nasty, tough, physical, hard-playing teams."
Dumars admits he doesn't have a good record of picking NCAA winners. "I don't do what you're supposed to do. I should pick Duke and Kansas and Kentucky. I should pick all of those teams. But I just pick teams that I like, teams that play our style. I don't know if those kinds of teams win in college or not."
His championship pick is West Virginia over Kansas State in the final. "I like West Virginia because they're tough, they're physical, they can defend and they've got guys who can make big shots, like Da'Sean Butler and those guys. They have enough to win it -- they just won the Big East tournament."
1 Name in the news
Michael Jordan. The more I think about this, the more I believe Jordan will succeed as owner of the Bobcats. Because he has invested so much of his own money in the team (he assumed about $150 million of debt in the deal), he will be fully engaged. That means he will deploy himself as the face of the franchise. He'll personally sell sponsorships, he'll speak to media, he'll personally recruit players. No franchise in the league -- not even the Cavaliers -- has a better asset than the Bobcats have in Michael Jordan. Now, he just has to put himself to the best possible use.