There’s nothing I like more than bursting bubbles, so in advance of the new season, I thought I’d lay out my all-overrated team for this year. You all can make fun of me when these guys all coincidentally have career seasons. Without any further adieu…
SF – Richard Jefferson
This supposedly underrated star got outplayed by Bostjan Nachbar last season. At the ripe old age of 27, Jefferson is showing signs of age, partly due to the injuries that have caused him to miss 80 games over the last three seasons. But even when he is healthy, he is a pretty strong shooter and an able defender, and that’s it. For this he has been festooned with All-Star honors, Olympic team roster placements, and the general perception that he is the most underrated player in the league.
PF – Jermaine O’Neal
Quick, whose player efficiency rating ranked 16th among power forwards? No, not David West (who was 15th). Shockingly, it was O’Neal, whose abilities have been overestimated by approximately the same margin throughout his career. A few years ago, when he was a solid 20-10 guy, he was a part of MVP discussions. Now that his production has declined a bit, he is still considered an all-star starter. The problem is that he shoots about 45% from the field. He is an outstanding defender, of course, but has never lived up to his superstar reputation.
C – Ben Wallace
Cost per rebound in 2005-06 - $8,125
Cost per rebound in 2006-07 - $19,488
Cost per playoff win in 2005-06 - $750,000
Cost per playoff win in 2006-07 - $2,666,667
Having your division rival solve a potentially sticky financial problem for you? Priceless.
PG – Jason Kidd
When he’s not smacking, groping or otherwise generally having his way with women, Kidd is also a horrendous shooter who plays for a professional basketball association. What really elevates his game is his rebounding, without which he would not be enough of a threat to log stellar assist totals, or even stay in the NBA. Triple-doubles are great, but there is a reason why a Nets team anchored by this trio of alleged stars only wins about 45 games per year. Kidd is fine, but he is only a top-tier PG in fantasy.
SG – Daniel Gibson
The weird thing about Gibson’s conference finals explosion is that his nickname has thus far summarized his overall game. As many Pistons fans already know, Gibson shot more free throws in that series than he did the remainder of the season. His outburst, combined with the Cavs’ complete and utter lack of perspective (see: Hughes, Larry) should guarantee him plenty of time to be utterly mediocre this season. We’ll see if he can pull 31 points out of his ass again.
SF – Michael Redd
Michael Redd is a solid shooter. Thanks to his popularity amongst a couple of influential columnists, Redd is somehow elevated to the status of unheralded superstar. He’s good, but I would expect a superstar to lead a solid supporting cast to 40-42 wins in the Eastern Conference at minimum. He’ll put the ball in the basket all day and all night, but lacks the multi-faceted game to be a real star.
PF – Lamar Odom
His 15-10 numbers are somewhat over-inflated by the fact that he plays 40 minutes per game, and he’s actually a pretty average starter. Side note: Odom is the quintessential example of the 75 cents-on-the-dollar guy. He’s the guy that can headline a trade for a major star, saving face for a team forced to acquiesce to a superstar’s trade demand. Expect him to be traded at least twice more for precisely this reason.
C – Marcus Camby
Defensive player of the year? Camby is a good rebounder and shot-blocker, but Denver allowed 104 ppg last season, and Camby’s defensive numbers don’t rate that well. Camby is a very solid player, and will probably deliver double digit rebounds in perpetuity, but one gets the impression that sportswriters are still anticipating a breakout year from the 33 year old.
PG – Deron Williams
Deron is a top-10 point guard, but the assumption seems to be that he will emerge as a superstar this year. At 23, there is room for modest improvement, but he is no sure thing for stardom, and I would take Chris Paul in a heartbeat. I defy you to explain how his career trajectory is substantially different from, say, Andre Miller.
SG – Monta Ellis
Is it a bad sign when the potential future of your franchise can’t shoot all that well? If Golden State is smart, they’ll sell high on Ellis, who many project to be a star. I think the playoffs exposed him a bit, and even with modest improvement, he won’t live up to his reputation as a future-star in this league.