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February 21, 2012, 03:39 PM ET
The Players Who “Out-Usaged” Carmelo

by Neil Paine

Carmelo Anthony’s much-ballyhooed return to the Knicks’ lineup was last night, and the earliest of returns suggests that Jeremy Lin won’t have to sacrifice as much of his usage as ‘Melo will when the pair attempt to coexist.

Lin’s rate of play consumption barely flinched alongside Anthony; it was 28.4% against Dallas on Sunday, when Landry Fields was 2nd on the team with 24.4%, and it was 27.8% against New Jersey (#2 was Amare Stoudemire’s 23.1%). Meanwhile, Anthony, accustomed to a career usage of 31.2%, checked in at a meager (by his standards) 22.7% in his first game back since all Linsanity broke loose. Only two other times in his career had ‘Melo attempted 11 or fewer field goals in a game during which he played 35+ minutes.

Needless to say, it’s rare for Carmelo not to be his team’s usage leader. Combining regular-season & playoff games, Anthony has started 663 career games, 524 of which he was his team’s leading starter according to usage rate. Here are the names of those starters who have bested Carmelo’s usage in a game over the years:

Player          Count
----------------------
Allen Iverson     30
Kenyon Martin     27
Chauncey Billups  24
Andre Miller      22
Voshon Lenard     17
Amare Stoudemire  17
Marcus Camby      10
Nene Hilario       9
Tyson Chandler     3
Landry Fields      3
Iman Shumpert      3
Anthony Carter     2
DerMarr Johnson    2
Jeremy Lin         2
Ruben Patterson    2
J.R. Smith         2
Shelden Williams   2
Arron Afflalo      1
Ryan Bowen         1
Greg Buckner       1
Toney Douglas      1
Jared Jeffries     1
Dahntay Jones      1
Linas Kleiza       1
Johan Petro        1

Lin became the latest in the game that touched off his remarkable recent run, out-usaging ‘Melo 29.9 to 15.9, but Anthony was limited to under 6 minutes that night due to a groin injury. Last night was more legitimizing, as Lin topped Anthony usage-wise in a game where both played over 36 minutes. Obviously, many more games are necessary before we can truly know what to expect from the Lin-Anthony dynamic, but it is notable anytime Anthony starts and isn’t the team’s leader in usage rate.

Email Neil at np@sports-reference.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Neil_Paine.

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