ESPN’s Mike Wallace, a former Miami Herald scribe, raised some brows yesterday when he spewed what we can safely assume is a hot take when he called Kevin Durant a “glorified Carmelo Anthony” on the Ethan Skolnick Show with Chris Wittyngham.
“Kevin Durant is a glorified Carmelo Anthony and that’s not to take a shot at Carmelo Anthony,” Wallace said. “He’s gonna be a future Hall of Famer. Kevin Durant is gonna be a future Hall of Famer — one of the top scorers that we’ve ever seen. Yes he’s gonna be a max player but I need some more time before I think about how much money this guy stands to make in Oklahoma City. You’re talking about $227 million. That money’s gonna go to a guy who had a 3-1 series league and coughed it completely up to the Golden State Warriors. I’m still of the belief that Oklahoma City choked away that series more so than Golden State snatched it from them and won it.”
So calling him a glorified Melo from a scoring standpoint isn’t insane just insulting but that’s not all Wallace was selling. He then rattled off the raw career averages of the two players, noting how similar they are.
As a scorer, Kevin Durant is a glorified Carmelo Anthony from a raw scoring standpoint. But Durant gets buckets at a MUCH higher efficiency, with a 48-38-88 shooting split (FG-3FG-FT) compared to Melo’s 45-34-81.
Dig into the advanced metrics, and Melo gets flattened:
Win Shares Per 48 Minutes: Melo (0.135), KD (0.214)
True Shooting Percentage: Melo (0.545), KD (.605)
Let’s go back to that bit about coughing up the series.
“That money’s gonna go to a guy who had a 3-1 series league and coughed it completely up to the Golden State Warriors. I’m still of the belief that Oklahoma City choked away that series more so than Golden State snatched it from them and won it.”
Durant did not choke up a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors. You can say the Oklahoma City Thunder did, but a huge chunk of it was, you know, this all-time great Warriors team with the best record in NBA history starting to make shots and impose their will against an inferior-style of offense.
“Carmelo is a scorer,” Wallace said. “Durant called himself in the middle of this series a professional scorer. Is he Bird, Jordan, Magic, Wilt, Tim Duncan, LeBron, and Kobe? No, not yet. I don’t put Kevin Durant in that category. He’s more along the lines of trending towards Isiah Thomas, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, and Karl Malone.”
You can feel the take heating up as he starts comparing him to a batch of all-timers who never won a title.
“Still Hall of Famers, still all-time great players, but is he a true, true champion that’s gonna make the rest of his team better? Is he gonna elevate other guys around him based on the way he plays his game?”
🔥 The take has been put in the microwave
“But here’s my lasting question about Kevin Durant. Yes, I know he can take an average team and make them pretty good and a title contender but can he elevate a contender into a champion? I’m not so sure. The jury still remains out on that as far as I’m concerned.”
🔥🔥🔥 And we’ve got HOT TAKITUDE.
Mike, do you know what often is the difference between a “title contender” and a “champion?” Luck and circumstance. No one wants to admit it but it’s an absolute requirement for any champion in any sport and I’m tired of traditionalists comparing individual players in a team sport based on wins and rings.
LeBron James and the Miami Heat needed luck to beat the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals when a missed three bounced in the vicinity of Chris Bosh, who then kicked it out to Ray Allen in the corner for a series-saving three. Imagine how LeBron’s perceived legacy would’ve changed had Allen missed that shot and Miami lost that series, which would be ridiculous considering there’s so many variables involved in winning a title.
Durant is a superstar — one of the game’s top three or four players. Calling him a “glorified Melo” as a scorer is one thing but it ends there.
Durant is at least a full tier or two above Anthony as an overall player, and he’s the superior passer and defender. Did anyone watch the way his length bothered the Warriors for most of the series when the two sides went small? We’ve never seen that Warriors offense get thwarted like that before in a series over the last two seasons.
Not winning titles doesn’t make Durant a failure or second-tier or not clutch. Sometimes it’s as simple as other teams out there not only being better than his team, but luckier.
Kevin Durant is “a glorified Carmelo Anthony” in the same way that Michael Jordan is “a glorified Allen Iverson.”
You can listen to the Wallace’s sizzler below.
Kevin Durant is a glorified Carmelo Anthony – @MyMikeCheck
— 790 The Ticket (@790TheTicket) June 1, 2016
Photo via Keith Allison/Creative Commons