Talking with Lang Whitaker of NBA.com (h/t ProBasketballTalk), Felton touched upon what it’s like to play alongside ‘Melo, a synopsis which included a voluntary admittance that the New York Knicks’ forward was a better scorer than Kevin Durant:
Because he scores in so many ways. There’s a lot of guys who can score the basketball in this league. Kevin Durant, by far, is one of the top ones. Him and Melo could be neck-and-neck — those guys can score in a lot of ways. But Melo can score in more ways than KD, because Melo can post up, he can score off the dribble, he can score in the mid-range, he can score finishing at the rim, and he can shoot threes. You’re talking about a guy who has a total, complete game, and he’s big and strong — 6-8, big body, strong body. A lot of people like to talk about how he takes a lot of shots, this and that. Listen man: We need him to score. It gets maximized because if you’re having an off night and you take thirty-something shots, it’s like, “Aw man, he’s shooting too much.” If you’re having a great night, he’s got 40-something points and he took thirty-something shots, ain’t nobody saying nothing. I just tell him, “You do what we need you to do. As a team, we know what you’re going to do every night.”
“Wham. Bam. Thank you, man.” At least, that’s what I imagine Anthony’s reaction would be after reading this.
Statistical gurus and most fans would agree that Durant is the better scorer and better player. But after beating Durant out for the NBA’s scoring title this past season, and after averaging 25 points a night over the last 10 years, Felton does have a case.
You’ll notice that he’s not speaking in terms of efficiency or anything along those lines. He’s talking about ability, and one could certainly argue ‘Melo’s point-totaling horizons are far broader than that of Durant’s. That doesn’t mean he’s the better scorer and you would need to find numbers to back it up, but it is possible.
I could dig deep and find the numbers that show you where ‘Melo scores from and how he gets his points in comparison to Durant, but I’m not going to. For one, I’m not licensed to publish 5,000-plus words at a time. Secondly, to do so would be traversing well beyond the point I believe Felton is trying to make.
Though he could have articulated it better, New York’s point man isn’t a blubbering idiot. ‘Melo can score in all those ways, the same ones he posits he can. And so can Durant. His point, then, is that ‘Melo, even if only by a little, is more versatile than the Durantula. In terms of scoring, that is. Which I could be believe.
Ask me who the better player, facilitator, defender and even rebounder is, and I’ll say Durant without hesitation. Pick my brain about who the better scorer—raw scorer—is, and I’ll probably pause for a second, sigh, then resign to saying Durant. At this point, we’re conditioned to look at ‘Melo’s efficiency and do just that. With Durant coming off a 50/40/90 season, it seems insane to suggest ‘Melo is the better scorer when he’s never shot 50 percent or better from the field.
Still, our aversion to such declarations is less an indictment of ‘Melo’s abilities and more a testament to just how highly regarded Durant is. Rip away the numbers and journey into the hypothetical, then maybe, just maybe, we’d come up with a different answer to the question.
Felton already has.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.