Gut-wrenching loss last night to the bucks. This was a game they lost in the last few minutes after being up by 14 in the second half. When it came down to crunch time the Bucks - particularly Antetokounmpo - made shots while the Knicks - I'm looking at you, Melo - did not.

Anthony was smooth, finishing with nearly a triple-double (30 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists), but he missed his last three shots late — any of which could have been the dagger.
— Marc Berman, NY Post

Yes, Melo had a good game, statistically. And we probably put too much emphasis on the last few minutes of a close game which diminishes all that came before it. But...still...when the game is on the line...when a single shot makes the difference between winning and losing...AND YOU MAKE IT...this is what we call Clutch.

It feels to me, as a regular Knick game viewer, that Melo misses a lot of shots at the end of the game. I wondered if this was anecdotal, or if there are statistics that can point me one way or the other. So I went to the Basketball Reference Shot Finder to see if I could find out. Pretty Geeky thing to do, I know, but it showed some interesting data:

First - here are the Crunch Time stats for Melo as a Knick this season, and the previous 2 seasons. For this review I have defined Crunch Time as the final 2 minutes of the 4th quarter or OT, with the teams within 5 points of each other. In other words, time is running out and every shot counts.

2016-17 (this season)

Query Results Table
Rk Player Season Tm G FG FGA FG% FGX 3P 3PA 3P% 3PX eFG% Ast'd %Ast'd
1Carmelo Anthony2016-17NYK3151141.362901353.24540.40816.314
2Derrick Rose2016-17NYK283580.43845111.09110.4449.257
3Kristaps Porzingis2016-17NYK252256.39334720.35013.45517.773
4Justin Holiday2016-17NYK232038.52618820.40012.63215.750
5Kyle O'Quinn2016-17NYK181633.4851703.0003.4857.438
6Brandon Jennings2016-17NYK231545.33330520.25015.3893.200
7Courtney Lee2016-17NYK231340.32527516.31311.38810.769
8Willy Hernangomez2016-17NYK131320.650712.5001.6758.615
9Mindaugas Kuzminskas2016-17NYK171229.41417613.4627.5178.667
10Lance Thomas2016-17NYK181126.4231559.5564.5195.455
11Joakim Noah2016-17NYK121120.550901.0001.5505.455
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2017.

2015-16 Season

Query Results Table
Rk Player Season Tm G FG FGA FG% FGX 3P 3PA 3P% 3PX eFG% Ast'd %Ast'd
1Carmelo Anthony2015-16NYK68102240.4251381456.25042.45429.284
2Langston Galloway2015-16NYK6966155.426892776.35549.51342.636
3Arron Afflalo2015-16NYK5362129.481671847.38329.55044.710
4Derrick Williams2015-16NYK6248122.39374932.28123.43034.708
5Robin Lopez2015-16NYK434469.63825000.63825.568
6Jerian Grant2015-16NYK5743141.30598538.13233.32315.349
7Lance Thomas2015-16NYK4541100.410591935.54316.50534.829
8Kristaps Porzingis2015-16NYK453492.370581134.32423.42924.706
9Kyle O'Quinn2015-16NYK413072.4174217.1436.42419.633
10Kevin Seraphin2015-16NYK352368.3384502.0002.33814.609
11Jose Calderon2015-16NYK341948.39629922.40913.4909.474
12Sasha Vujacic2015-16NYK261645.35629926.34617.45614.875
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2017.

2014-15 Season

Query Results Table
Rk Player Season Tm G FG FGA FG% FGX 3P 3PA 3P% 3PX eFG% Ast'd %Ast'd
1Carmelo Anthony2014-15NYK253581.43246520.25015.46311.314
2Tim Hardaway2014-15NYK272145.46724928.32119.56716.762
3Amar'e Stoudemire2014-15NYK171732.53115000.5318.471
4Jason Smith2014-15NYK231542.3572714.2503.3699.600
5Langston Galloway2014-15NYK171433.42419715.4678.5307.500
6Shane Larkin2014-15NYK231134.3242318.1257.3386.545
7Lance Thomas2014-15NYK171025.4001502.0002.4007.700
8J.R. Smith2014-15NYK12825.32017311.2738.3804.500
9Alexey Shved2014-15NYK9425.16021110.1009.1802.500
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2017.

I find this data interesting, and it reinforces my gut feel that Melo has not been Clutch for the Knicks.

  • Melo takes most of the Crunch Time shots. This season he has taken 50% more shots than the next volume shooter, Derrick Rose.
  • A high percentage of his shots shots are 3-pointers (38%) with a low make rate (25%).
  • He is assisted on only 31% of his baskets, which means that 70% of the time it is iso-Melo at work.
  • These are pretty consistent numbers over the last 3 years. And in some cases getting worse: the percentage of 3-point shots has increased while his 3-point shooting percentage has remained steady at 25%.

Compare his Knicks Crunch Time stats with the same stats when he was with the Nuggets the year they made the conference finals in 2008-9:

Query Results Table
Rk Player Season Tm G FG FGA FG% FGX 3P 3PA 3P% 3PX eFG% Ast'd %Ast'd
1Carmelo Anthony2008-09DEN302041.48821515.33310.54911.550
2J.R. Smith2008-09DEN281542.357271127.40716.48812.800
3Linas Kleiza2008-09DEN251532.46917110.1009.48412.800
4Nene Hilario2008-09DEN141117.647601.0001.6477.636
5Kenyon Martin2008-09DEN181025.4001548.5004.4807.700
6Chauncey Billups2008-09DEN231033.30323315.20012.3482.200
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2017.
  • He was not as dominant, taking nearly the same amount of shots as the second-most player.
  • He shot a much higher percentage (49%)
  • He shot about the same percentage on 3-pointers, but made more of them.
  • He was assisted on 55% of his baskets, which says that his shots were in the flow of the offense and not as much iso-Melo.

My take-away from this analysis is that iso-Melo is not very efficient at Crunch Time. But this is not entirely Melo's fault. Watching the end of last night's game - and many previous games - the Knicks offense breaks down. There is not much ball movement, or player movement, and it devolves into hero ball. What is Melo supposed to do when he gets the ball with 10 seconds on the shot clock and all the other players stand around and wait for him to do something? He does what a scorer always does, he hoists up the best shot he can create.

Is this a coaching issue? Or do the players ignore the coaches and just play the way they want to play? I don't know the answer to this. But it is clear that Melo has not been Clutch for quite a while.