Who’s Better: Paul George Or Carmelo Anthony?

Take away LeBron and KD and Carmelo Anthony has been the best player at his position. For the last few years, his grip on that spot was strong. Not anymore.

Thanks to his status as the best player on the East’s best team, as well as remarkable improvements, Indiana’s Paul George is now an All-Star starter, an MVP candidate and perhaps one of the game’s best players.

George, as possibly the best player in the NBA under 25, doesn’t score as easily as ‘Melo and doesn’t hit the glass as hard. But he’s a versatile Swiss army knife. With Anthony having one of the best seasons of his career wasted in New York, there’s a possibility these two meet up in the first round of the playoffs. That’s a long way off so, for now, we’re arguing who’s better: Paul George or Carmelo Anthony? We argue. You decide.

*** *** ***

Before the season started I’m sure most would’ve picked Carmelo Anthony. During the entirety of the 2013 fall, most would’ve taken Paul George. So, here we are heading into February with a bit of a dilemma. In choosing which of the stellar small forwards you’d choose I pose one question: who gives you more? The answer has to be Paul George.

While Anthony is averaging about four more points a game, he’s been less consistent and less efficient from the floor. Anthony is beyond talented at the offensive end but he has a tendency to shoot his team out of games. Anthony has taken 20 or more shots this season 30 times. In those 30 games, the Knicks have only arrived victorious 12 times. George has only taken 20 or more shots on 11 occasions. The Pacers are 9-2 over that span.

While George does have the better team, let’s not discount team success–especially in a terrible, eye-gouging awful Eastern Conference. Let’s not forget the New York Knicks won 54 games last year and the Indiana Pacers won 49 games. Now the Eastern Conference has gotten worse and when one would expect the Knicks to take a step forward, they’ve fallen into an abyss. George has seen another massive leap in his game. His offense is right there with Anthony. George is only averaging .01 points per possession less than Anthony. It’s falsely assumed Anthony is a better shot creator, because while he is ranked 30th in isolation scoring, George is the seventh overall ranked isolation scorer. Synergy also has George as the more productive spot-up and off-screen scorer.

Now while you might still be on the fence, what about defense? Paul George leads the entire league in defensive win shares. The league! Not his Defensive Player of the Year leading candidate teammate, not DeAndre Jordan, not LeBron James but Paul George. Synergy ranks George 44th overall in defensive points per possession; they rank Anthony 169. In games against the Pacers, LeBron James has shot 46 percent, a far cry from the 58 percent he’s averaging this season. Against the Knicks, he’s averaging over 70 percent shooting. George may be the most impacting two-way player in the league. His offense is just short of elite, while his defense reigns supreme. In a league where the two best players both play the small forward position wouldn’t you rather have the excellent defender over the marginally better scorer?

Finally let’s talk about the basic attributes. Paul George has one of the best physical skill-sets in the game. Other than Durant, who can boast his frame? He’s 6-9 of pure athleticism. His wing span stretches seven incredible feet. He’s also six years younger than Anthony. This is a guy who hasn’t stopped improving, he’s gotten better every single year. Anthony has scarily similar numbers to his previous season. We’ve seen Anthony’s best and it wasn’t enough in Denver or New York.

If for some reason you are still unsure, do yourself a favor and take the younger player still reaching for the ceiling.


Hit page 2 to hear the argument for ‘Melo…

Many are now saying Paul George is a better basketball player then Carmelo Anthony. George is a rising star and has helped the surging Indiana Pacers to the best record in the Easter Conference. Paul is averaging a career-high 23 points per game and has been named a starter in this year’s All-Star Game. However, if I had to pick between Anthony and George to lead my team to a championship this year, I would choose the six-time All-NBA, seven-time All-Star, two-time Olympic gold medalist and last year’s winner of the NBA scoring title, Carmelo Anthony.

Hold on! I know Paul George and Indiana manhandled the Knicks last year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but Anthony did his part to give the Knicks a chance. Anthony averaged 28.5 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game compared to George’s 19.5 ppg but .394 field goal percentage. In that series, George had no pressure. He didn’t have to carry the team. Roy Hibbert, David West, Lance Stephenson and George Hill all had big games in the series. Hibbert dominated Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Anthony had to once again carry a team on his back if they were going to even have a chance of advancing.

George leads the series 7-6 against Anthony but Anthony has averaged 25.2 ppg and 7.5 boards a contest against him. George has only averaged 15 ppg and 4.5 rebounds against Anthony. This year, the two stars are very similar. Anthony is doing everything he can to keep the Knicks in playoff contention, averaging 27.2 points and 8.9 boards a night.

Anthony has yet to even reach a conference finals with the Knicks (he made it there once in Denver) and George has already been there in his third year in the league. But George is surrounded by much better talent then Antony ever has. Anthony has been surrounded by nothing but mediocre talent his whole career and, like LeBron James showed us by forming the Big 3, it takes more than one superstar to be a consistent title contender. Who has Anthony played with in his career? He’s been surrounded by the ridiculous antics of J.R. Smith in both Denver and now New York. His teams with the Knicks have consisted of mediocre players wrapped in terrible contracts. A broken down Amar’e Stoudemire, an inconsistent Raymond Felton, an overpaid Tyson Chandler and a bunch of 35-and-older role players on the back end of their careers. In Denver he was with basically the same team–Smith, Felton, Kenyon Martin and even Marcus Camby.

Anthony has been in this league ten years and has the experience needed to win a title. George has been in the league three years! In Anthony’s first three years in the league, he averaged 21 ppg his rookie year, 20.8 ppg in his second and then 26.5 in his third. George averaged 7.8, 12.1 and 17.4 in his first three seasons. In the those three years since George entered the league, Anthony averaged 26.3, 22.6 and 28.7 points per game, winning the scoring title last season.

Anthony has consistently been a top five player since he came in the league. He has advanced to the playoffs in every season in his NBA career. Anthony can take over a game while George has yet to prove he has adapted that attribute yet. Anthony is a pure scorer, proving that with his career-high 62 points, a Madison Square Garden record, last week against the Bobcats. Anthony definitely lacks some of the little things that George may possess, but Anthony is still only 29 and has many good years ahead of him. Anthony rebounds the ball well and plays good defense when he wants to. George, due to his great athletic ability, is great on the defensive end and can change momentum with his electrifying jams.

George is an athletic freak. He showed us with that in-game 360 dunk a few weeks ago. However I don’t think he is a go-to-guy yet that you can rely on to win a championship like Anthony can be. Last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, PG was 3-of-10 for 13 points in Game 3, 2-of-9 for seven points in Game 7, and turned the ball over 32 times in the series against the Heat.

George must show he can progress and take the next step before I would choose him over Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has always had the pressure of matching LeBron and yet is still remarkably consistent. George came in with no pressure and doesn’t have to live up to the same expectations as Anthony and definitely isn’t criticized as much as he is. Anthony has experienced so much in his career, from winning a title at Syracuse and being named Final Four Most Outstanding Player to winning a scoring title and a gold medal in the same year. Anthony is durable and can be the most dangerous player in the league on the offensive end of the floor.

George might be emerging but Anthony is a better choice if you had to choose between the two to lead your team to a championship this season. Anthony has the pressure on him, which makes him that much more hungry to win a title. He is in a bad situation on a bad team while George is on a well-built team with players who fulfill their roles. Anthony has that takeover ability that’s needed at times to win big games. He’s proved to be the better player, doing it at a consistent level for ten years.

Who would you take right now?

Follow Josh on Twitter at @JoshEberley.

Follow Dan on Twitter at @D_Ingham5.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.