Charley Rosen: NBA's Most Over/Underrated
LeBron James heads the list because despite his gargantuan numbers he still has to prove that he's not a quitter (remember the concluding two games of last season's Celtics-Cavs series?) and not a loser. Moreover, although he's become celebrated for running down and blocking breakaways, his posture is still too upright for him to play adequate defense against quick-footed opponents.
Vince Carter also habitually posts gaudy numbers but has been a choker throughout his career.
Dwight Howard is a good defensive helper, but only when a savvy offense hasn't sucked him out of position. At the same time, he's unable to adequately defend opposing big men who can turn-face-and-go. Plus, instead of elevating his own performance he'd rather whine in public about his teammates' shortcomings.
Kenyon Martin has a big mouth and a small game.
Danilo Gallinari is a streaky shooter with a questionable handle and slow-footed defense. If he played anywhere else but New York he'd never be touted as a future superstar.
Stephen Jackson can't differentiate between a shot and a bad shot.
DeAndre Jordan is a relentless rebounder and shot-blocker who has learned to play adhesive man-to-man defense and makes wonderful off-the-ball cuts on offense. He's a championship-caliber, role-playing center.
Dwyane Wade is a proven winner who plays legitimate defense, delivers in the clutch, and is pound-for-pound better than LeBron.
Beno Udrih has transformed from being a point guard who couldn't to a shooting guard who can. The only concern here is the temptation to overvalue high-scorers on bad teams.
Delonte West is exactly the tough-as-nails wing-defender the Celtics will need to supplant the Lakers.
Anthony Parker plays earnest defense and can hit open and turn-around jumpers. His complimentary talents were overshadowed when LeBron dominated the Cavs' game plan. These days, the Cavs are so bad that Parker's special talents are superfluous.
Nick Collison battles on every play and is a terrific fourth man in a four-man frontcourt rotation.
Tony Allen can't shoot a lick but can play ornery defense against anybody.
DeJuan Blair deserves considerable credit for the Spurs remarkable success. He's always been a ferocious rebounder (especially on the offensive end) and has learned to play above-average defense. Moreover, the young man has developed an effective fall-back jumper in the lane.
Lamar Odom is too often overlooked since Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol usually garner the headlines. If LO's line-drive jumpers are erratic, he's accomplished in every other facet of the game. Indeed, his long-arms, guard-like handle, quick-feet, and lefty-slants provide an extra gear for the Lakers high-octane attack. Whether he plays the small forward or the power forward slots, Odom always presents unsolvable matchup problems.