Saturday, October 22, 2011

ESPN's Most Overrated List

If you've been following #nbarank on twitter or over on ESPN's site, you already know what this is. If you haven't, summary: ESPN writers ranked the top 500 NBA players in the NBA. Their results, plastered all over the internet, are incredibly controversial regarding top 10 players -- Kobe and Carmelo being low for what their fans expected.

I think ESPN was too kind. I think they weren't being real. So I ranked all of the players myself -- based on a formula devoted to upside (% variable sequentially dependent on birthdate of player), offensive ability (partially based on efficiency, TS%, offensive rebounding and usage), defensive ability (defensive efficiency, defensive rebounding rate), and weighted adjusted +/- ranking (courtesy of 82games). I peered over this, and for any inconsistencies, near ties, clear mishaps (weighting end of bench players over starters) or any other gut reactions -- I made subjective changes.

My list is meaningless as a unit, but the excerpts of the list will be brought out and used to attack ESPN's list.

Let's begin with ESPN's most overrated players:

1. Deron Williams - 9th in the league? Here's the deal. He's worse than Carmelo who was listed as 12th -- who is ALSO incredibly overrated. Deron Williams of two years ago might have been this high, but he was largely a product of the team he played with. His defense is atrocious. His shift to the Nets worsened him. His overseas play has been shockingly terrible. Williams I guess could be a top 50 player -- barely -- and that's what he should be around. But top ten? Come the fuck on.

Krank - #54; ESPN - #9

2. Carmelo Anthony - Carmelo was outraged at being listed 12th, but the real outrage is the ongoing scam that Carmelo is anything but a gunner. Carmelo has more in common with JR Smith than players like Kevin Durant (a true top ten player). Carmelo plays close to zero defense. Mind you, this doesn't make him a bad player. It just makes him one-sided. And an entirely one-sided player has to work harder on his strong side than a two-way player to make up for it. Carmelo may arguably be the best scorer in the game, but being the best scorer does NOT make you the best basketball player.

Krank - #48; ESPN - #12

3. Kirk Hinrich - I don't understand the appeal here. Is it his reputation as being a "Wade" stopper? The Rec-Specs? Regardless, this is just patently stupid ranking him anywhere above the top 250. He is, at best, a mediocre 8th man. Not starter caliber. This is probably the most bizarre and out of place ranking on the list, but mediocre bench player to ok starter is nowhere near as exciting as clamoring for Deron Williams as a top 10 v. top 50 player.

Krank - #443; ESPN - #129

4. Joakim Noah - I get that he hustles. I get that he plays strong defense. But he is not a top 30 player. ESPN analysts make the mistake of overrating him due to the phenomenon of a team -- the sum of the players -- being better than them as individuals. Noah manifests the Chicago defense, but falls short in anything other than that. A solid starter, but by no means is he an elite player.

Krank - #94; ESPN - #29

5. Kendrick Perkins - Overrated Perkins has become en vogue ever since the blockbuster Celtics trade that landed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen on the team. Perkins, being the weakest starter of the five while a Celtic, benefited greatly by playing alongside Hall of Famer Garnett -- one of the best defenders in the league over the past decade. People misinterpret this as Perkins being a 'great' defender. Perkins is an above average defender. No more, no less. That really doesn't scream top 100 to me.

Krank - #300; ESPN - #95

6. John Wall - Here is a case of potential outweighing abilities. John Wall is an explosive athlete -- but that doesn't mean he is a good basketball player, yet. This mistake has been made several times in the past with players such as James White and Jamario Moon. Being an athlete doesn't mean you're good at basketball. John Wall's turnover percentage is a testament to that. However, one would be mistaken to say that Wall isn't a good basketball player. He's just not top 50 yet. He's a solid starter; nothing more.

Krank - #126; ESPN - #40

7. Amar'e Stoudemire - Ama're is a lot like Melo in that he doesn't play defense. BUT HE GETS BLOCKS! You're right. But so does Hasheem Thabeet -- one of the worst players in the league. Getting blocks does not equal good defense. In fact, often times, good paint defenders do not get incredibly high block rates. High block rates, like high steal rates, can mean a lot of different things. In Stoudemire's case, it means he sags off of his man to gamble on blocking a shot -- leaving someone wide open. Matador defense. He's may be one of the best roll men in the league, but he isn't quit top 25 anymore.

Krank - #37; ESPN - #13

8. Russell Westbrook - Westbrook is amazingly good, especially for his age. But he's not top 25 yet in terms of ability. He still makes poor decisions and tries to do too much. Allen Iverson syndrome. Westbrook, however, does not have an excuse quite like Iverson. With a legit top 10 player standing by him and an arsenal of top 150 players surrounding him, he should be passing out of his 20 footers more often.

Krank - #42; ESPN - #15

9. Mehmet Okur - Washed up. Injury-prone. These are things we associate with players like Tracy McGrady but seem to forget when talking about 7 foot stiffs.

Krank - #381; ESPN - #139

10. Aaron Brooks - Brooks was never that good to begin with. He has and always was a gunner. Because of his height and frame, his defense is laughably bad. Chalk him up to another failed Steve Nash backup. Definitely not starting caliber.

Krank - #308; ESPN - #118

11. Brandon Jennings - Krank #157; ESPN #60
12. Devin Harris - Krank #171; ESPN #69
13. Marc Gasol - Krank #64; ESPN #26
14. Joel Przybilla - Krank #486; ESPN #198
15. Jason Kidd - Krank #114; ESPN #49
16. Elton Brand - Krank #144; ESPN #62
17. Andres Nocioni - Krank #456; ESPN #197
18. O.J. Mayo - Krank #212; ESPN #93
19 Samuel Dalembert - Krank #252; ESPN #112
20. Antawn Jamison - Krank #235; ESPN #107
21. Evan Turner - Krank #366; ESPN #171
22. Glen Davis - Krank #250; ESPN #117
23. David Lee - Krank #115; ESPN #54
24. Josh Childress - Krank #369; ESPN #175
25. Brandon Roy - Krank #124; ESPN #59

Various other overrated players on ESPN:
Steve Blake, Marcus Camby, Trevor Ariza, Jameer Nelson

Note: Video analysis eventually to follow.

Update on 11/23/11:

Deron Williams is actually playing well overseas -- so pretend that negative judgment of mine never happened.