#NBArank Overrated/Underrated

hi-res-b05b1c91480ca9668d4af76ee24772cf_crop_northOverrated: #NBArank 8 Tim Duncan
Players I rank ahead him: Kobe, Shaq, and Hakeem

Duncan is the most overrated player in the top 20. He is unquestionably a great, great player, but when you are talking about the #8 ranked player of all-time there are too many (specifically Kobe, Shaq, and Hakeem) greater players. At this level, I need to see a clearly dominant player. While Duncan was really, really good for a really long time, he was never dominant. If someone completely unfamiliar with basketball watched a random game with Duncan on the floor, I’m not sure they would pick out Duncan as the best player. Conversely, let that person watch Shaq, Kobe, or Hakeem and each of those players would be identified as clearly the best player. If all of them were lined up and I was starting a franchise, Duncan would be the last one picked. Hakeem was better on defense AND on offense. Shaq was leaps and bounds better offensively and was no scrub defensively. Kobe was a supremely talented assassin. All winners with personality and charisma. His “leadership” was buying-in to Pop’s system, that’s all. Most of the Spurs Championship runs have memorable shots, but I remember maybe only one by Duncan. I remember Sean Elliot, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Big Shot Bob, but the only Duncan shot I remember was in a game the Spurs lost to the Lakers on Fisher’s buzzer-beater. Even his career-high 53 point game came in an overtime loss with Nash hitting a game-winner. Duncan was usually in the background solidly getting his 25 and 12 with 2 blocks. Stellar numbers, but not performances worthy of this lofty rating over the likes of Shaq, Kobe, and Hakeem. Duncan should be in the top 15, but #8 is way too high for him in my book.

MailmanUnderrated: #NBArank 16 Karl Malone
Player I rank him ahead of: Moses Malone

Moses had 3 MVPs and 1 Championship compared to Karl’s 2 MVPs and 0 Championships. You got me. But Moses’ 3 MVPs came in the late 70’s and early 80’s before Bird and Magic stormed the NBA. Karl’s MVPs came over MJ, Hakeem, and Barkley in their prime. Moses’s lone championship came against the a short-handed Lakers team on a team where Moses played with three other Hall of Famers (Dr. J, Mo Cheeks, and Bobby Jones). Karl, on the other hand scared the shorts off two legendary Jordan-led Bulls teams when the third best player on the team was Jeff Hornacek and the starting Center was Greg Ostertag. Nuff said. Give Karl the supporting cast of Moses and Karl has a championship too. When the Mailman played with 3 other Hall of Famers in his lone season with the Lakers, he was two wins away from the title when he went down with a knee injury only to see his team fall apart without him and lose three straight.

Statistically Karl’s peak was better and lasted longer. Karl had 12 seasons averaging 25 points or more. Moses had 3. The only statistical category Moses outdid Karl in was rebounding to the tune of 2 rebounds per game. Moses’ seasons in which he averaged 17.6 and 15 RPG were the two seasons with the highest team average of total rebounds per game in the last 40 seasons. There were an average of about 4 fewer total rebounds per game when Karl was averaging 12 per game in 1987-88. Meanwhile Karl averaged 5 points and 2 assists more, while shooting a better percentage from the floor by 2%. Karl was All-NBA 1st Team 11 times, 2nd Team twice, and one 3rd Team. Moses was All-NBA 1st Team just four times and 2nd Team four times. Moses made two All-Defensive Teams to Karl’s four. The Mailman sits 2nd in all-time points, 7th in total rebounds, and 11th on the All-Time steals list. Moses is 3rd in rebounds, 7th in points, and 23rd in blocks.

The Mailman should have been ranked over Moses as the best Malone in NBA history.

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) reacts after hitting a 3-point basket during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Saturday, April 25, 2015. The Warriors won 109-98 to sweep the series. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Overrated: #NBArank 23 Steph Curry
Players I rank ahead of him: Elgin Baylor, Scottie Pippen

I love Steph Curry and if we were projecting into the future as to where Steph will end up on this list when all is said and done, he may be a Top 5 guy. That said, I go by the “if he retired today” standard. Under that standard Curry is Bill Walton–a one-time MVP with one championship, a three-time All-Star, and two-time All-NBA selection. It’s just a little early to rank him above Baylor and his #3 All-Time rank in points per game and his 10 All-NBA selections, 27.4 PPG, and 13.5 RPG. I also can’t put him above Pippen, one of the greatest defenders ever with 10 All-Defensive Teams and 7 All-NBA selections to go with his 6 championships. Curry will pass both of these two by the end of the season if he and his Warriors keep up their current pace, he wins his 2nd MVP and 2nd title, but until that happens it’s too early in my mind to do it just yet.

mchale-jumperOverrated: #NBArank 31 Kevin McHale
Players I rank ahead of him: Bob Pettit, Patrick Ewing, Jason Kidd, Rick Barry, Walt Frazier

I’m a big Celtics fan, but putting McHale ahead of some of these guys is embarrassing. McHale made only one All-NBA Team and 6 All-Defensive Teams. Bob Pettit was All-NBA 10 times, two-time scoring champ, and surpassed 20,000 points in just 11 seasons. He also averaged 16 rebounds per game, won 2 MVPs and was the only man to lead a team over Bill Russell’s Celtics in a Finals series. McHale ranks almost as high as Scottie Pippen as a second fiddle, without the accolades and specialty skill that Pippen had as literally one of the best perimeter defenders ever. McHale was no slouch on defense, but he was not Pippen. Ewing, Kidd, Barry, and Frazier all excelled in specific aspects of the game and did it as the best players on their respective teams. McHale never had to face a defense designed to stop him and often benefitted from one-on-one coverage in the post because of it. He always had the benefit of playing with a guy named Larry Bird who made it awfully difficult to double down. Had McHale been an All-Time great defender or dominant league leading scorer or assist man, I could live with this lofty rating, but with none of those things going for McHale, 31 is a few spots too high.

215736959_824b38da41Underrated: #NBArank 37 Rick Barry
Players I rank him ahead of: Clyde Drexler, Kevin McHale

Not sure why voters don’t like Rick Barry. He was one of the greatest ABA players with 4 All-ABA Teams and then a 6-time All-NBA selection. He was one of the greatest scorers in the game and won a scoring title and an NBA title averaging over 40 point per game in the Finals, a record until Jordan broke it. At just under 7 rebounds and 5 assists per game to go with his 24.8 scoring average, Barry was also one of the greatest free throw shooters ever. How the voters put McHale and Drexler ahead of him is beyond me. Having two sons play in the NBA is another accomplishment no other NBAer can claim. Maybe the voters didn’t like him because of the “granny” free throws.

waltonOverrated: #NBArank 42 Bill Walton
Players I rank ahead of him: Basically everyone ranked #43 to about #80, but especially George Gervin.

It’s hard to know exactly what the experts were looking at with Walton, but #42 is much too high for Walton. Walton is one of the greatest collegiate players ever and has stayed in the public view in NBA circles as a broadcaster, but based purely on his NBA career, Walton should likely be more in the 75-80 range instead of the 40’s. He was All-NBA just once and a one-time MVP. When one of the major awards listed on your profile is 6th man award winner, that’s code for having a weak resume. Ranking Walton over so many of those behind him in the ranking is sad, but ranking Walton over George Gervin seems particularly disturbing. Gervin was one of the greatest scorers in history, was a four-time scoring champ, and a 7-time All-NBA selection. In the days before the 3-point line, Gervin was an outside shooter and an efficient one, shooting over 50% from the floor for his career. He was basically Kevin Durant before Durant. Seems tough to put Walton over Gervin. If we are going to put that much weight into a single MVP trophy, where is Derrick Rose on this list?

New York, NY - December 7th: New York Knicks vs Portland Trailblazers: New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony #7 looking dejected during the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Knicks loose to the Trailblazers 103-99. Sunday, December 7th, 2014. (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)
Photo by Anthony J. Causi

Overrated: #NBArank 59 Carmelo Anthony
Players I rank ahead of him: Tracy McGrady, Dennis Rodman

I have never been a fan of Carmelo’s game. Outside of his dominance as an isolation wing scorer when he feels like playing hard, he is not a winner and does more to help his team lose than win. No player in NBA history has numbers more hollow than Melo’s. He is inefficient and a poor teammate. McGrady was a similar player without destroying teams in the process. Rodman was the greatest rebounder and one of the greatest defenders in his generation and despite the distractions, was still easily a bigger asset to his teams than Melo has ever been.

marc-gasolOverrated: #NBArank 95 Marc Gasol
Players I rank ahead of him: Derrick Rose, James Harden, Carlos Boozer

Since when does two All-Star teams, two All-NBAs, and one Defensive Player of the Year award make you good enough for a Top 100 of All-Time? With career averages (in a short career where his numbers have not yet taken the end-of-career-drop-off hit) of 14 points and 7 rebounds, I am baffled at how Gasol is better than James Harden, Carlos Boozer, and Derrick Rose. Harden is 3-time All-NBA and a 4-time All-Star, Rose has an MVP, and even Boozer’s numbers were significantly even better than Gasol’s. Gasol should not have been on this list, especially where the next person in this article was NOT on the list.

140805110726-mitch-richmond-warriors-uni.1200x672Biggest Snub: NR Mitch Richmond

Players I’d rank him ahead of: At least 10 players in the Top 100.

Mitch Richmond not making this Top 100 list is a travesty. Richmond was a six-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA selection, a 20,000 point scorer, and one of the better perimeter defenders in the 90’s. He was also a member of the wildly entertaining Run TMC. Even before this slight he was one of the most underrated players in the history of the game, this latest snub just solidifies that.

dream-team_crop_northUnderrated: NR Christian Laettner

Players I rank him ahead of: Every player not on the Dream Team.

Christian Laettner’s exclusion from the Top 100 List was clearly an oversight. Dream Team members rank: Michael Jordan #1, Magic Johnson #4, Larry Bird #6, Karl Malone #16, Charles Barkley #18, John Stockton #19, David Robinson #20, Scottie Pippen #25, Patrick Ewing #32, Clyde Drexler #36, and Chris Mullin #83. How did Laettner not make the list? Had Shaq been taken to fill the collegiate spot on the Dream Team instead of Leattner, the team would have added the #9 greatest player to this already impressive group. Christian freaking Laettner…unreal.

3 thoughts on “#NBArank Overrated/Underrated

  1. Another great read. Love your arguments here. I too have been baffled reading these lists. ESPN is my go-to for entertainment but I’m also freaked to see where my boy Rodman landed, Karl, and yes, as much as I don’t care for Kobe, he is way too far down that list. Funny about Laettner, although I’d argue that was the best 30-for30, I can’t turn the channel if surfing when that one’s on. I was very pleased someone finally came to their senses and put Kareem as high as he was, yet I have a hard time with Lebron at 3, although their argument makes a case, I think it’s tough to say he’s over Magic, Wilt, Russell, but certainly Top 10. I have a really hard time with Curry already ranked so high, and even tougher time with Isaiah Thomas at 26. Having seen him play he’s higher to me than Garnett, Curry, Durrant, Pippen. This guy was crazy good, and blacklisted from the Dream Team due to personal issues that occurred. He was never as respected as he should have been.

  2. Mcgrady over Melo? McGrady averaged around 19 ppg for his career. Melo has 25 thus far (albeit that will probably go down as his career progresses). McGrady never led a team past the second round of the playoffs (I think he did play in the western conference finals as a spur coming off the bench as a support role/veteran influence). Melo led his Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals. Melo was never a first team NBA and Tmac was twice, but Melo has one more all star appearance (as of today) and better FG 3pt and FT percentages during the regular season . Tmac had an unreal season in 2001, which Melo did not match, but overall Melo seemed to play better. Neither player is a “winner”, but Melo seems to have an edge statistically over Tmac.

    1. Melo is a cancer. His numbers are the most hollow numbers of any player in history, He is the ultimately non-team player who cares much more about getting his than winning–as evidenced by his resigning with New York when he could have gone to Chicago and contended for a title (though he probably would have derailed that team as well). I have a hard time ranking Melo above McGrady because McGrady was a similar player (many people forget how unguardable he was) without the drama.

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