The Warren Report: Feeling Melo

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Warren can fill up the cup. His offensive game is calculated, or as Hornacek said "methodical", and his focus at the rim is impeccable. He wasn't the kid most of us hoped to draft, but I am sure he will be.

T.J. Warren and Carmelo Anthony get Buckets

I wasn't all that excited about the T.J. Warren pick. I liked him, but I was hoping for a trade up to 11 to get Doug McDermott. As the days pass, I love the Warren pick. I think he is a stud. A flat-out scoring machine. A hound dog whose only goal is to sniff out buckets. He seems like a high-character guy and from all indications a hard worker. I think he will have a better career than McDermott. I really do. I also think he is similar to Carmelo Anthony coming out of school. He doesn't have a Carmelo ceiling, but he could be very good.

He isn't the most athletic player the Suns could have drafted, but I think this is slightly over-blown. His no-step and max vertical at 27 and 35.5 inches, respectively, are solid for a 6'8.25'' 220ish pound forward. Carmelo Anthony only measured in at 6'7.5'' and 233 lbs. In fact, Carmelo only measured 6'6.25'' without shoes and T.J. is a legit 6'7" without shoes. Melo performed a 30.5 inch no step and a 33.5 inch max vertical. The 3.5 inch advantage Anthony has had in the no step vertical is significant because that is more of a natural movement in the act of rebounding, but Warren does have the max vertical advantage by 2.5 inches.

Couple Carmelo's no step advantage with almost a two inch wingspan advantage, and that explains the rebounding superiority 2002-03 Syracuse Melo had over 2013-14 Warren. Both players had 8% body fat at their NBA combines, so they have similar frames, heights/length, and athleticism. Warren may be a tweener-forward, but the last time I checked Carmelo is doing okay at the power forward position.

There needs to be patience with T.J. Warren's game and development. The kid has an elite scoring ability. Sure, Carmelo was the third overall pick and was expected to be great, but the Nuggets were patient with him and his offensive deficiencies. The Suns have the luxury of not throwing Warren into the fire and playing 37 min a game like Melo did and T.J. won't be shooting 18 shots a game either...but it would be interesting if he did.

Per 40 minutes: NCAA

  • 2002-03 Syracuse Anthony: 24.4 pts 11.1 reb 2.2 ast .453/.337/.706
  • 2013-14 N.C. State Warren: 28.1 pts 8.1 reb 1.3 ast .525/.267/.690

Warren scored nearly 4 more points per 40 than Anthony. As you can see, Carmelo was a better rebounder, passer, and three point shooter. However, as poor as Warren's 27% from the three is, Melo's 34% wasn't much more impressive. Warren was very bipolar when it came to his three point shot.

In his last 6 games at N.C. State, T.J. shot 0 of 13 from deep. It lowered his overall the point percentage by 3+%. In his twelve games prior to that slump he went 19 of 47 (4 per game) from three, which that is 40%. That is impressive.

Warren actually shot 52% from deep his freshman year, though it was only on 1.1 attempts per 40 min. In 2013-14 his attempts increased to 3.7 per 40. His 27% from three is more realistic than 52%, but T.J. is likely somewhere in between. For a N.C. State team that had considerably less talent than the 2002-03 Syracuse National Champs, I believe 34% (Carmelo's college 3pt%) is closer to where Warren is as a shooter from deep. Defenses were designed to slow down Warren and push him outside, whereas Melo would gravitate towards the arc.

Lets look at Carmelo shooting 34% on 5.2 -3pt attempts per 40 and how that translated to the NBA.

  • Seasons 1-4 Avg 3pt Production per game: 0.6 / 2.2 = 27.9%
  • Seasons 1-7 Avg 3pt Production per game: 0.7 / 2.3 = 30.8%
  • Seasons 8-11 Avg 3pt Production per game: 1.8 / 4.6= 38%

We can conclude a few things from these stats. Anthony was a bad three point shooter the first seven years of his career and he shot between 2-3 a game. In his last four seasons he has taken between 4-6 a game and he has been a very good three point shooter. His shooting progressed very slowly and then exploded.


This is why we need to be patient with T.J. Warren. He has shown the ability to make threes. The NCAA season is short, and like the pros, guys can have prolonged slumps (looking at you Frye). In T.J.'s last 6 games he went 0 for 13 from downtown. That dropped his three point percentage by 3+%. Look at the 12 games prior to that slump, Warren shot 19 of 47 from deep. That is four a game at 40% shooting, and it is very encouraging.


n't get me wrong, T.J. Warren is not Carmelo Anthony, but why couldn't he be a really good player? Why couldn't he average 15-17 points per game within the next couple of

If we go back to comparing T.J.'s sophomore campaign with Carmelo's freshman season, T.J. Warren was the better scorer. He shot nearly 8% better from the field overall, 3+% better in true shooting percentage, and 5+% better in effective field goal percentage than Melo.

Carmelo took 19.2 shots per 40 and T.J. took 21.1. We already noted Warren's 28.1 points per 40 vs. Carmelo's 24.4. Both players got to the line a ton in college. Warren at 7.3 attempts from the line per 40 and Carmelo with the slight edge at 7.5 attempts. These forwards bullied their way inside and lived in the paint/mid-range areas, but the evidence shows Warren is better at that aspect in comparison to Carmelo at this same stage of his career.

T.J. Warren's PER was 31.3 last season. I do not have Carmelo's 2002-03 PER, but I do have his offensive and defensive win shares.

Carmelo: 2.7 OWS / 3.1 DWS = 5.8 WS

Warren: 4.8 OWS / 1.7 DWS = 6.5 WS

Take these measurements of production however you want, but Warren was definitely the superior offensive player and Carmelo was the better defensive player. Maybe Boeheim's zone scheme(s) at Syracuse helped Carmelo in the defensive department...

Anthony blocked shots at a slightly higher rate and was a better defensive rebounder, but Warren stole balls at a higher rate. Hornacek and McStunna both commented on Warren's defensive ability and how impressed they were with his active hands. Warren appears to be motivated as he has worked himself into pretty solid shape. If he maintains this weight and plays with energy I think he will be an average defender at worst in the NBA. Back to offense.

I don't have Carmelo's usage rate, but Warren's was 35.5%. Jabari Parker's usage rate was 32.7% and he and Carmelo both took about 19 shots per game, so I will assume Melo's rate was in the 32-34% range. Oh, and their turnover rates were nearly identical, with Carmelo having a minor advantage. Very similar players in college.

If we examine Warren's statistics versus ACC opponents, the numbers are even more impressive. In 18 games, per 40 minutes he averaged 29.1 points, 7.4 reb, and he shot 35% / 70% from three/free throw line. Absolute monster. I am getting really excited about T.J. Warren.

Sure, in the NBA, length and athleticism rule. However, with a player who scores the way Warren does, the NBA game may actually benefit the way he scores. With no defensive three seconds in the key, and teams packing in 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones, Warren had heavy traffic to deal at the NCAA level in the paint and mid range areas. Teams still couldn't stop him.

With the spacing the Suns can provide, Warren will have plenty of room to operate (recall Markieff's paint/mid range game flourishing with Frye's help). I know Warren won't play big minutes, but if he did I think he would score a lot of points. His floaters can get over length and his transition game looks so promising.

The Carmelo comparison is pretty legitimate. Both players get to the rim at will. Both did a ton of damage inside and mid range. Both are/were poor three point shooters coming out of college, and both have reputations for being average athletes and average defenders. Warren isn't great off the dribble, but some scouting reports said the same thing about Carmelo.

He didn't hit a single three and he scored 42 points. 14 of 17 from the line. 14 of 23 from the field. Now in this next game he does hit 3 of 5 from three and scored 41 pts on 16 of 22 and 6 of 7 from the line. Remarkable. Oh, and the threes he hit were bombs from NBA range. I know this isn't NBA competition, but back to back 40+ point games? I don't care if it is the YMCA Saturday league, it is hard to score 40 points. These games aren't drastic outliers either. The kid averaged 25 a game.

Completely different type of player, but Warren may be our Kawhi Leonard type pick. The type of player that plays a significant role on the next great Phoenix Suns team. I think he is going to score at the NBA level. He is too good around the basket not too. He is crafty, but physical. I really like his game. If he sees a window he will fire anywhere from inside 15 feet without hesitation. We need that fearless offensive game on this team.

T.J. and P.J. will make for a menacing combination at the SF. A flurry of offensive and defensive energy. Unless, of course, we sign LeBron and Carmelo. That would be a flurry of not one. Not two. Not three........

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