Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Which Big Apple star has fallen furthest: Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) or Deron Williams (Nets)? Who’s most likely to get back up first?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Williams. To me, Anthony is one of the true constants of the NBA, a shooter/scorer who, since he arrived, has been treated – and sees himself – a notch above his true star standing in the league’s galaxy. Last possession, close game, he’s at or near the top of a very short list in whose hands I’d want the basketball for my team. But day in, day out, he’s not a tent pole guy in the way LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant is. Never was, probably never will be because it’s generally about Melo first, team second. But Williams actually has underperformed his reputation the last couple of years. His assists have dipped, he’s hurt lately, there are a couple of fallen coaches on his resume and no one defends anymore the selection order of top point guards (cough, Chris Paul) in the 2005 Draft. That said, I’d happily welcome back the 2007-10 version of Williams.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Carmelo’s scoring average is down 2 1/2 points, his shooting percentage .26 from last season, slightly down. And he has no help. Williams has fallen off the edge of the Earth and he’s supposed to be leader of the Nets. D-Will is just lucky he’s not living back in Mother Russia with oligarch owner Mikhail Prokorov or he might have already been shipped out to a work camp in Siberia. Carmelo is still an A-lister who can score with the best in the game. Williams looks like a guy who has lost interest. I’m with Carmelo to recover first all the way here.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Deron Williams is so low at the moment he makes the New York subway look like Chicago’s ‘L.’ His fragile ankles make Steph Curry‘s look like a couple of boulders. Williams has played in just nine games (avg. 24.1 mpg) as the Nets’ most critical player has been a total non-factor. As for ‘Melo, I cringed when he proclaimed his intention to head into free agency when he should have been prodding his teammates to climb aboard his shoulders for the championship ride of their lives. His shooting has been erratic, but he’s still scoring (26.3 ppg) while also averaging a tick under 10 boards a game and getting to the free-throw line (Houston loss game excluded), which tells me he’s engaged. So let Melo get Tyson Chandler back and maybe things settle down. D-Will? I don’t know how he gets it going if he can’t get on the floor.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Biggest fall: Deron Williams, and it’s not close. This is the pretty much the same Carmelo Anthony as always, so he’s the first to get back to the former level. But D-Will is on a fast down escalator. The Nets offense. His health. His uninspiring play. Williams has a lot of ground to make up.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Williams is injured, so it’s two different situations (like Big Apples and Oranges). At some point, Anthony will find some sort of offensive rhythm and start shooting better. And that could happen at any time. Williams’ return to form seems more long-term, because he re-sprained his ankle in the first game when he tried to return a couple of weeks ago, and it will take him time to get back into shape and have the acceleration and explosion he needs to be a top-flight point guard.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: This is a completely unfair question to Carmelo, whose game has not fallen off. In fact, he’s averaging a career-best 9.9 rebounds and playing a gut-busting 40 minutes every night on a team that is performing miserably. But he’s doing what he’s always done in terms of scoring the ball and giving the effort he’s always given. Deron Williams, on the other hand, has not been in elite point guard form for quite some time. Even last season, when his numbers were fine, he wasn’t really in the conversation of the best of the best at his position. He’s been passed up by the likes of Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and others since we used to argue about who was the better point guard between he and CP3. Knocked off that path in his final days in Utah, D-Will has battled one thing or another since moving on to New Jersey and now, Brooklyn. The fact that the point guard crop in the league has gotten deeper and even more dynamic and talented in the past three or four seasons, I’m not sure he’ll ever legitimately get back into that top tier conversation.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blog: New York is such a fickle town — they love you or they hate you. There is zero middle ground. And while Melo has been the target of plenty of ire the last few months, it’s almost like, at least they’re thinking about him. Deron, on the other hand, hasn’t been held to anywhere near the same level of scrutiny as Melo. I don’t know if that’s a comment on the franchises or the players, but that’s the way it is. It’s going to be a long road back for Williams to be the player he was before, a longer journey than Melo has in front of him, but Deron’s able to work off-Broadway, which lessens the spotlight a bit.
Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: Kind of unfair to say D-Will has fallen off, he’s injured. I suspect he gets back to his former level as soon as he gets 100% healthy. ‘Melo, on the other hand, may be victim of a poor fit with the pieces around him. Without Tyson Chandler, the Knicks’ D is a mess, and their offense has been stagnant and lacking in creativity. Carmelo has turned the ball over often and shot poorly, but the team around him has made it difficult for him as well. I think he can get better once Chandler is back and Mike Woodson can get back to finding his ideal rotation.
Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: ‘Melo is having the worst shooting year of his career, but he’s still second in the league in points per game and posting up big numbers in rebounds. So I go with Deron Williams here. He’s had too many injuries, and he’s not even close to the player he was last year … who wasn’t very close to the D-Will he was with Utah. I bet on ‘Melo as the first to get back of his normal level: His shooting woes will end when the Knicks, as a team, get back on track.