It's that time of year again. Time for me to use this forum as an excuse to burst bubbles. Previous lists have proved rather prophetic (hello Jason Kidd), but I should atone for some miscues... Brandon Roy in particular, about whom I wrote:
"Portland could be good, or even great, but that has more to do with the big guy who missed all of last season than Roy."
No, I wasn't referring to LaMarcus Aldridge or Joel Przybilla. That said, I will go ahead un-apologize for including Monta Ellis two years ago.
Some things to keep in mind...
(insert lots of important caveats)
F – Hedo Turkoglu
Serious people think that Vince Carter is a downgrade for Orlando. Even John Hollinger, who is normally pretty level headed, doesn’t mind the fact that the Raptors just bankrupted themselves to sign a decidedly average player entering his thirties, possibly at the expense of Chris Bosh. It seems like people have loved this guy forever. I don’t get it. Also, shouldn't his fans be called Hedonists? Why don't people make that joke? Just because it's hacky?
F – Carmelo Anthony
If it weren’t for the fact that he was drafted in the same draft as LeBron James, would anyone regard this guy as a superstar? Anthony’s talented, but consistently phones in the first half of the season. There’s a reason he’s only played in two all-star games (once as an alternate). He was 33rd in Player Efficiency Rating last year, and really the third best performer on his own team.
C – Rasheed Wallace
Honestly, I think he makes Boston worse. They are already an elite defensive squad, and his mediocre three point shooting will take opportunities from more effective shooters. Oh, and Boston relies on chemistry more than any other team. Also, anyone else as glad as I am that we don't have to hear "Rasheed would be the best big man in the league if he’d stick to the post" 80 games a year? Nonsense. Sour grapes? Perhaps, but 'Sheed certainly hastened the fermentation process.
G- Derrick Rose
Rose moves up to the first team this year, after a decent rookie campaign has everyone talking superstar. He could make the leap, but it’s equally possible he simply turns into an above average combo-guard, and it’s not out of the question that he turns into Larry Hughes. Minus the defense, of course.
G- Ricky "The Princess" Rubio
Of course, he’s not in the NBA, having shunned the opportunity to shoot 18% from the floor for the Minnesota Timberwolves (it's a blessing in disguise... Trust me.). His assist to turnover ratio isn’t that impressive, meaning this pass-only guard is an average passer. And this guy was upset that he didn’t get to go to New York? Yeah, that would've gone well. But, again, Steve Nash can shoot, whereas Rubio cannot. Have fun dropping 6 ppg in Euroball. The NBA will still be here when you decide to come back and become the white Jamaal Tinsley.
F – Lamar Odom
Remember the Lamar Odom "saga"? Since when is the question of whether the fourth best player on a team re-signs to that team elevated to saga status? What is it with fourth best players on championship caliber teams (see: Hedo Turkoglu)? Maybe he’s just more overexposed than overrated. Between being hyped out of Rhode Island, the constant trade rumors, and Kim Kardashian, no player has been the topic of more off the court press than Odom. Well, except Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant... You know what? I'm just not gonna tune in to ESPN this year.
F – Paul Pierce
What has he done without Kevin Garnett? For a guy who’s considered a Hall of Fame lock, isn’t it reasonable to ask? Perhaps it’s only fair that Pierce is earning kudos now. For years, he was underrated, laboring for some poorly stocked squads. But his production has slipped below all-star caliber, and he’s actually one reason why I don’t think the Celtics belong in the same discussion as Orlando and Cleveland.
C - Andris Biedrins
Truth be told, the vast majority of centers in this league are underrated. Shaq is considered washed up, even though he just registered an all-star season. Nene may have been the best player on the Nuggets last year. I’m gonna go with a guy who is overrated by stat geeks. Why? Cuz I gotta pet theory:
Players who grab a lot of rebounds for poor rebounding teams posting high FG% in limited attempts do not add nearly so many wins to their teams as objective analyses would expect. Simply put, if you’re the only big man on your team who gives a damn, you’re going to get a high percentage of rebounds. Chris Kaman, Troy Murphy, Kurt Thomas… Remember Danny Fortson? Rebounding is important, in principle, but it’s the stat I trust the least when assessing a player's value.
G – Mo Williams
Make no mistake, the addition of Williams made the Cavs a much better team, but that has quite a bit to do with the slop he was replacing at his position. His BJ Armstrong-esque all-star selection gets him on this list, though his disastrous playoff run cooled the Williams fire a bit, and I have a sneaking suspicion it might be a harbinger of performances to come.
G – Kobe Bryant
There is no way in the world I’d rather have him than LeBron, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan or a healthy Dwyane Wade (which, I think Dwyane Wade’s new nickname should be "A Healthy Dwyane Wade"… AHDW for short? Who’s with me?) In other words, he only makes the NBA Top 5 as an injured reserve. The fact that Kobe vs. LeBron articles are even written is absurd.