'Melo's improved jumper is golden for USA

August, 11, 2012
8/11/12
12:29
AM ET
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Info
Archive

Lars Baron/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony has been the most prolific scorer in the London Olympics.
Carmelo Anthony has been a man possessed in the Olympics.

He’s scoring 48.2 points per 48 minutes in the Olympics despite never averaging more than 36.3 points per 48 minutes in any of his nine NBA seasons.

Only one player in NBA history has averaged as many points per 48 minutes in an NBA season as Carmelo is averaging in the Olympics. That was Wilt Chamberlain (49.8) in 1961-62.

He's making over eight 3-pointers per 48 minutes. He's never made as many as two 3-pointers per 48 minutes in an NBA season. The most 3-pointers per 48 minutes in a season in NBA history is 5.3 by J.R. Smith in 2007-08.

Keep in mind the FIBA 3-point line is more than a foot and a half closer than the NBA 3-point line.

But even if Carmelo was playing without a 3-point line and every basket counted as two points, he'd still be averaging 39.9 points per 48 minutes, which would still be more than every player in the NBA last season and 13th-most all-time.

Sure, one can argue the competition in the Olympics doesn't compare to the NBA. But Carmelo is averaging nearly 13 more points per 48 minutes than any other USA player. Every other USA player is around or below their per 48 minutes average from last season.

Why has been Carmelo been so efficient offensively?

He's shooting 53 percent on jump shots, tops of any Olympian with at least 25 attempts.

During the 2011-12 NBA season, he shot 35 percent on jump shots, which ranked 32nd of 37 players with at least 400 attempts.

Similarly, Carmelo has drastically improved on guarded catch-and-shoot jumpers the last couple seasons. His percentage skyrocketed from 29 in 2009-10 to 47 last season, which ranked 5th of the 134 players with at least 50 attempts. Giving extra value to 3-pointers, he had the 3rd-highest effective field-goal percentage of those same 134 players.

Maybe he's shooting so well because he's getting a ton of open shots? Not really. Only 35 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers have been unguarded in the Olympics. In the 2011-12 NBA season, more than half of his catch-and-shoot jumpers were unguarded. But he shot just 28 percent on those shots last season, which ranked 194th of 199 players with at least 50 attempts.

Perhaps the real reason Carmelo's been so efficient offensively in the Olympics is because he's scored his points within the flow of the offense. Last season, more than a third of his plays were isolation. He’s been the most efficient isolation player in the Olympics. But only 14 percent of his plays have been isolation.

Instead, more than half of Carmelo's points have come on transition and spot-up plays. Thirty percent of his points have come from catch-and-jumpers in the Olympics, whereas only 12 percent of his points were scored that way last NBA season.

If Carmelo can find easier ways to score other than isolation, the Knicks could reap the benefits of his best NBA season yet.

In the meantime, he and his USA teammates face Spain on Sunday at 10 AM ET with a 14th gold medal in sight.

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