This is the most wonderful time of the year. The time when we set aside our own agonies and disappointments (do it, do it now!), and focus on kicking other people's puppies. It's the 2010 NBA All-Overrated Team!
Last year's list failed to yield any eating of crow on my part. Only Lamar Odom actually played his way off, turning in a stellar defensive season for which Ron Artest got all the credit.
Last year, I apologized to Brandon Roy, and un-apologized to Monta Ellis for prior inclusions. I will take this opportunity to un-apologize to Roy. What happened there? In four months, Portland went from contender of the future to the OKC Thunder's first round fodder of the future.
Use this time to make up your own caveats about how this is an overrated list and not a "worst players" list and stuff.
G - Kobe Bryant
I can't count how many articles I read this summer, announcing that LeBron James isn't the king anymore after his PR debacle of a summer, and that the crown has been restored to Kobe Bryant. Setting aside the fact that this topic is utterly inane, this is what philosophers like to call a false choice.
Kobe is a fine player, and a deserving all-star. But, from a purely basketball perspective, Pau Gasol is the star of that show. He has even become a better passer. If Kobe isn't the best player on his own team, he isn't the best player in basketball, and he'd have to contend with Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan besides.
G - Derrick Rose
A superstar in the making, an all-star already... But enough about Kevin Durant. At this point, it is clear that Derrick Rose has some serious gaps in his game, notably shooting and defense, which come in handy at the pro level. He has yet to demonstrate a superior ability to get to the free throw line, and he is not an outstanding distributor, both of which facts will make it difficult for him to succeed at the point guard position. What part of this profile "superstar" to you?
C - Brendan Haywood
When a once in a decade free agent frenzy hits, you can be sure that some sensible, 10 and 10 guy is going to be wildly overpaid. It's like how used Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas cost $15k during a spike in fuel prices.
So it's not surprising that a guy like Haywood would hit the jackpot. What is surprising is that nobody thought it was a bad idea. The people who were up in arms about Travis Outlaw type signings were mum on the fact that Dallas paid $50 million to re-sign a middling center in his thirties. The NBA: Where "Average is the new Awesome" happens.
F - Carmelo Anthony
For a spell, it looked like Anthony was going to play himself off the list. He was hitting shots, getting to the line with absurd frequency, and the Nuggets were looking like threats to come out of the West. Then he reverted to the old 'Melo, with the 10-29 shooting nights and stretches of missed games.
Look, if the only thing you're going to do is shoot, you'd better be really, really good at it if you want to turn down $60 million contracts. Like Reggie Miller good. Carmelo Anthony is not Reggie Miller good.
F - Rudy Gay
It would he hard to find a more average player than Rudy Gay. For his position, he's an average shooter, passer, rebounder and defender. He gets to the lane an average amount of time, and hits an average percentage of his attempts. He is the average height and weight, and plays the average position (small forward). Naturally, he is now one of the highest paid professional athletes in this or any sport.
G - Monta Ellis
The cat came back. Because Monta was so aggressive about identifying shooting opportunities, he managed to score a ridiculous number of points. Most fans and writers know to sniff out players who put up gawdy point totals for lousy teams, but there is a point (somewhere around 25 ppg) that they begin to ignore all perspective.
Here's some perspective. The guy led the league in minutes for the fastest-paced team in the league. He had the ball on virtually every possession. You expect big numbers from a guy like that. What you don't expect is for his team to be substantially worse when he is on the court. That was the case with Ellis.
G - Baron Davis
He was always one of those shoot-first point guards who can't shoot (he posted negative offensive win shares his rookie season, which is hard to do), but he always supplemented his game by distributing, playing some defense, and getting to the line a bit more than the average bear. He's still distributing, so his numbers are kind of like what Jamaal Tinsley's would look like if he insisted on shooting 16 times per game. So yeah, the Clippers did not make the playoffs last year.
C- David Lee
There are some people who passionately love this dude. I get it. He put up big numbers as a largely unheralded leader of a terrible basketball team. Yes, he's that 20-10 guy nobody knows is a 20-10 guy.
About that last bit. Here's what we think we know about 20-10 guys... They score, they create offense, they play defense, and they rebound. But Lee only does one of those things at an elite level. He doesn't create his own shot, or do much on the offensive glass. He's a notoriously lousy defender. Those huge rebounding numbers stem from the fact that he was on a team with no other rebounders. His rebounding rate isn't particularly impressive.
Put him alongside your average power forward, and the guy gives you David West numbers. That's not going to turn this Warriors franchise around.
F - Caron Butler
The Mavericks brought him in as the final piece for their championship run, which goes a long way toward explaining why the Mavericks didn't have one. I've never understood Butler's appeal, and now that he's old, I don't think he has any.
Theoretically, he can stop Kobe Bryant, but he isn't a great defender generally, and what you really need to stop the Lakers is to stop Gasol and Bynum. He also can't really shoot, so he has no business taking minutes from (for example) Jason Terry. Yet the perception remains that he is a borderline all-star. Not buying, not even on my fantasy team.
X - The Top Three Picks in the 2010 NBA Draft
I can't just pick one. This draft class was so over-hyped, the best player was picked fifth for some reason, and there are so many reasons why each of these guys has failed to impress me.
John Wall did nothing in college that would make one think he's going to be a superstar, and couldn't get easy baskets playing alongside DeMarcus Cousins. Evan Turner was awful in summer league, which is a very ominous sign, though I still think he'll be the best of the three. Derrick Favors is a project, and the success rate of "projects" is not at all good. Prediction: DeMarcus Cousins makes more all-star teams than these three combined.