In his first few games with the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony has been everything everyone expected him to be. To admirers, he's putting up the numbers of a legitimate superstar: about 25 points and seven rebounds a game. Detractors see a different Melo: a ball hog who's shooting a meager 42 percent from the field. "I think what Carmelo does is, the more players you have guarding him, the more he wants to shoot. Which is the opposite of what you're supposed to do," says economist Dave Berri, author of several books on sports statistics and player evaluation.
In the run-up to the NBA trading deadline, Berri told the Wall Street Journal that if the Knicks sold the farm to bring in Carmelo, they would win "roughly 29 games over a full year." After seeing which players were actually involved in the deal, he said the team might win 50.* A lot of people thought that sounded off. New York Times stats guru Nate Silver argued that, on the contrary, Melo is "the ultimate team player" because his offensive game draws defenders and allows his teammates to get more wide-open shots, boosting their field goal percentage. Carmelo's value, Silver and other analysts said, was spilling over his own stat line and into the box scores of his teammates.