By Kevin Sawyer
Last year’s edition of the most overrated list resulted in quite a tussle, as legions of fans mounted a furious defense of (snicker) Jason Kidd. I can guarantee you those same fans are now on message boards talking about how the Mavericks won’t even make the playoffs this year.
Actually, the guy who most obviously belonged on the list (Richard Jefferson) was the one who showed me up. Well, him and Monta Ellis (ouch, Kevin). Deron Williams played fine, but Chris Paul proved me right to the degree that Williams isn’t overrated anymore. In fact, the only returning member of the overrated team is Marcus Camby.
With a number of stars fading into the background this year, there are actually far more underrated players than overrated players. Nonetheless, here’s your list. Visit the comments section to get your rage on.
- FIRST TEAM
James Posey – F
This year’s winner of the Robert Horry memorial over-hyped role player award. James Posey has all the characteristics. He’s a solid defender, hits threes, and is kinda funny looking. He has rings. Oh, and he meets the most important qualification. He isn’t very good. Have fun paying this guy until he can draw Social Security, New Orleans.
Josh Smith – F
How do you jump from my underrated list to my overrated list in one year? Here’s how. Smith’s popularity skyrocketed this year while his production remained the same. The Hawks improbable playoff run didn’t help matters any. He has shown glimpses of greatness, but has also shown more glimpses of not having his head on straight. With the Hawks piddling away Josh Childress in the offseason… well, there’s nothing like a 30 win season to cool your jets.
Marcus Camby – C
Welcome back, Marcus. Of course, being traded to the Clippers is a surefire way to ensure that you are not on this list next year. Camby’s not a bad player, but his reputation (as well as his undeserved DPOY award) are based upon inflated rebounding and blocking numbers. When not playing for the league’s fastest team, as well as its only rebounding and shot-blocking presence, expect his number to more accurately reflect his talents.
Brandon Roy – G
There are folks who think that Portland will compete for a championship this year. That’s how overvalued Roy has become. He had a very solid campaign, and will be a borderline all-star for years to come, but a 13-game win streak last season elevated his reputation to a level unmatched by his output. 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.
Tracy McGrady – G
Lost in the shuffle of the Rockets’ weird win streak and miracle playoff birth was the utter banality of Tracy McGrady’s season. Writers attributed his reduced scoring average to his team play (you know you are overrated when sportswriters cite your negatives as positives) but it had more to do with his missing lots of shots. McGrady hit a putrid 29% from three-point range last year, with high volume.
- SECOND TEAM
Carmelo Anthony – F
Well, he’s certainly better than Darko. That said, after five straight years of good but not great play, it’s time to re-adjust the ceiling. As Denver learned the hard way, Melo simply isn’t the centerpiece of a championship ball-club. Let me put it this way, could you imagine what LeBron would do with that supporting cast? Win rings, that’s what.
Hedo Turkoglu – F
Last season was an absolute fluke from the guy who looks like the extra from every Eastern European mob scene. Actually, the first 55 games or so of the season were a fluke, and the rest of the season (including the playoffs) had Turkoglu returning to his career norms. He’s a decent player, and his long-range output makes him a nice compliment to Dwight Howard’s post play. But anyone expecting Orlando to make the leap had better hope Mickael Pietrus is the truth.
Dasagana Diop – C
To be fair, he might only be overrated in Mark Cuban’s eyes. On the championship contending Mavs, Diop was a nice piece. The Shaqs, Duncans and Garnetts of the world needed someone who could foul six times without giving up a three-point play. For the new look (non-contending) Mavs, he’ll be a liability. The Mavericks needed to new blood on offense, and instead threw the MLE at the guy who was a throw-in for the disastrous Kidd trade last year. What’s weird is that it probably took that just to secure his services. Ah, to be seven feet tall.
Derrick Rose – G
No love for the first pick. I think Chicago biffed this draft, passing on a nearly sure-fire big man when they have a competent backcourt already. In college, Rose averaged just under 15, 5 and 5, and shot 33% from three-point range. Top competition or no, does that scream first overall pick to you? As a combo-guard, he’ll need to either rebound or hit the long ball to be very effective. I’m not optimistic.
Stephen Jackson - GFC
What is his position? I’m not going to call him a center, Nellie Ball or no Nellie Ball. Jackson is overrated for a couple of reasons. First, he plays a lot of minutes on a team that plays at a very fast pace, which amplifies his scoring numbers. Second, there was a time when everyone though he’d be dead or in prison by age 30, so the bar was pretty low. But I about spit up on my keyboard when one sportswriter said he is now arguably the best player on the Warriors. He is 4th (behind Ellis, Bidrins and Maggette) at best.