Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NBA All-Underachieving Team

Tracy McGrady needs to change the energy around him, or something.

I, too, may have become enamored with hockey. Alex Ovechkin is poetry on skates. *snaps out of it* Sorry. To the list...

This roster, developed with input from my sports braintrust, consists of players that have evident immense talent; but, for whatever reason, hasn't fulfilled that potential. Some have started strong then faded. Others just didn't amount to the college/high school pre-Draft hype. This is different from being a bust, because these players have decent careers; so that means you're spared, Kwame...for now. The criteria: A first-round pick; at least 5 years in the league; never been an all-star (so no Steve Francis); career not shortened by injuries (so no Brent Barry/Bob Sura); and evidence of superstar talent. Let's introduce the starting five.

At guard. 6'6" from DePaul. Quentin....Riiicharrrrdsoonnnnn...
Let me start by saying Quentin Richardson was on this list as the sixth man based on what I previously knew about his basketball career. That is until I researched his college career and stumbled across these insane numbers. With that said, plus what he used to do for the Clippers off the bench; there's no reason for Q to have become a fat, standstill shooter. His post game for a guard was to be desired by most big men; and we all know he can shoot the three. I don't know if Brandy had anything to do with him slacking off, but he hasn't been the same since getting with and separating from her. I almost forgot he did this to people. Now he does a lot of this. I hate love the Knicks.

At the other guard. 6'4" from Bowling Green. Antonio...Danielllllllllllsss.
I know. To some of you, this looks like an absurd pick. I mean, if you look at Antonio Daniels' career, you would think he was a hard-working, 2nd-round pick--certainly not grounds to make this list. Howeva, the info I'm about to place on you is sure to persuade you. Daniels was the fourth overall pick in 1997 draft; after having a ridiculous senior season at Bowling Green. In the NBA, AD has settled nicely into whatever team he's been with--either San Antonio, Seattle, or Washington. Even so, he has only averaged double figures in points once in his NBA career; which, if you clicked the previous link, you would know that's below what it should be. So while he's carved out a niche as "veteran backup point guard for contending teams," he's far from the career he should've had based on his Top 5 pick status. Well, at least he's not Ron Mercer.

At forward. 6'10" from Rhode Island. Lamar....Oooooooooddommmmm.
Lamar Odom is one of my favorite players. His versatility screams that he should be the left-handed T-Mac, minus the injuries and bad luck. However, I believe he's just naturally unselfish; and a lot of times on the basketball court, unselfish to a fault. He appeared to be uncomfortable with Kobe the previous two seasons, when he seemed to frequently disappear and become spectator to the Black Mamba. He seems to perform better when he's at best the third option on the team, evident by his numbers since the Pau Gasol trade--and his season with the Wade/Caron/Odom Heat. Few remember that he had 29 points in his first career game. Yes, he is the biggest triple-double threat next to Jason Kidd; but I just feel that maybe he should have a few all-star games under his belt. His career numbers are respectable; but maybe I was hypnotized by his work in that old Nike commercial.

At the other forward. 6'10" from Villanova. Tim...Thooooooomaaasssss.
This is another one of those picks the casual fan, or even the above-casual fan, may question. Thomas has played for six teams in his eleven seasons, and most remember him for contributing big three-point shooting to Phoenix the season Amare Stoudemire was injured. I remember him being the second-rated high school basketball player, behind one Kobe Bryant. After one season at Villanova, Thomas was taken three spots after Antonio Daniels. Thomas was one of the first athletic big men with range behind the arc, with enough guard skills to play on the perimeter. I don't know what exactly happened, but it seems that he should've been more than what he is. Now, whether or not that means all-star appearances is somewhat unlikely; but, to me, he should've at least been in a couple snub discussions. I mean, he's better than Matt Harpring; but i guess double-figured career scoring average is respectable.

And at center. 6'11" from Thornwood HS. "Cheeseburger" Eddy...Currrrrrryyyy.

How come all my lists seem to have Knicks players on them? Anyway (before I get Stephen A. Smith upset), the man once dubbed, "Baby Shaq" has been more like the first part of that nickname and nowhere near the latter. Curry is talented. He has good footwork and solid moves around the basket. The problem--the huge problem--I and most other people have with him is that he seems disinterested in becoming better. Need proof? Big men shouldn't average less rebounds (6), than feet in height (7). He did average 19 points per game last year, but also got out-rebounded by Jason Richardson. Curry is currently 92nd in rebounding, behind the likes of Joakim Noah, Reggie Evans, and J-Rich...again. Someone--anyone--please save this franchise.

It was difficult coming up with a bench for this team. I do have a sixth man, and rightfully so, in my opinion...

Jamaal Tinsley
His college stats don't lend much to my argument, but anyone who watched him at Iowa State knows that Tinsley was the best point guard in the nation. His only downside was his team being a #2 seed and losing to #15 see Hampton in the 2001 tournament, his sophomore and last season with the Cyclones. After being drafted by the Pacers, he averaged over eight assists per game as a rookie; and lent some folks to believe that he would one day propel himself to among the ranks of the NBA's elite floor generals. Well, that day hasn't come; and while Tinsley is solid at the one-guard spot, few remember just how talented he is...especially with moves like this.

While compiling this roster, I learned a few things. I gained a better understanding of why various levels success in amateur basketball does not equate in the pros (Read: No one has any idea how to predict it...For every Michael Jordan, there's a Sam Bowie). Everyone doesn't have the drive of His Airness--or Kobe Bryant, for that matter. I guess that's why they're elite. Most importantly, I learned it's difficult living up to the pressures of being drafted with Tim Duncan.


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