Which Brooklyn Nets Players Did ESPNs Top 500 Rankings over and Under Value?
ESPN's Top 500 NBA players rankings is a trove of statistical goodness with endless potential for debating which players it over or under valued.
The good news for the Brooklyn Nets is that the debates over its starting five's rankings are all within the list's top Top 100 players, which bodes well for the newly minted franchise in 2012-13.
Of course, at the end of the day, individual rankings aren't nearly as important as whether the Nets gel well together starting next season. However, in the meantime, let the debates begin:
Kris Humphries (84): Undervalued
Humphries had a break-out year in 2012-13, averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds per game. His proven reputation as a "double-double" machine earned him a healthy two-year, $24 million contract last summer.
Power forwards who can consistently crash the boards and score on put-back shot opportunities are a rare commodity in the NBA. Hard-working, selfless players who aren't afraid to jostle in the paint are hard to find.
For this reason, Humphries' ranking is a bit too low. For instance, as prolific a scoring guard Arron Afflalo (80) may be, efficient, rugged interior play has more value.
Gerald Wallace (70): Correctly Valued
Wallace is a lock down defender who can defend the baseline as well as the low post given the situation. However, since his 2009-10 All NBA Defensive team berth, the eleven year veteran's game has shown some ware and tear.
Moreover, Wallace—a once very effective scorer around the rim—only averaged 13.8 points per game last season.
Other defensive specialists in the league, such as Tony Allen (66) and Mike Conley Jr. (65), have supplanted Wallace in terms of value.
While the Nets weren't exactly bamboozled when they signed Wallace to a four-year, $40 million deal, they also knew that their new forward is no longer a top 50 player. Which is fine, because Wallace will mostly be the Nets fourth scoring option and should still play very strong perimeter defense.
Brook Lopez (60): Under Valued
Say what you may about Lopez's questionable interior defense and sub-par rebounding at his position (7.6 career average in rebounding), a 25-year-old center who can score 20 points a game is rare and a very valuable commodity.
ESPN ranked Lopez below David West (56) and Ryan Anderson (50), an unreasonable estimation. West is in the twilight of his career at 32-years-old, and had a mediocre season with the Pacers in 2011-12. He probably received an inflated ranking due to his team's success last year.
Ryan Anderson is a nice stretch four who can hit three pointers, but even so, these abilities are not an upgrade over a center with a litany of offensive moves and some upside on the defensive end of the floor.
Joe Johnson (33): Under Valued
A strong two way player who averaged 19 points per game last season while playing strong perimeter defense for the Hawks, Johnson has one thing going against him: his agent managed to score him a contract worth $120 million.
Which is to say that Johnson's hefty salary has earned him some undeserved ire. At the end of the day, the six time all-star is an elite shooting guard, a strong passer and a key reason for the Atlanta Hawks success the last several years.
The recently signed Brooklyn Net should have been ranked higher than James Harden (26) and Andrew Iguodala (28). While Harden's offensive game may be more fluid than Johnson's, his defense is lacking, and he still hasn't averaged 20 points per game in his young NBA career.
Iguodala, on the other hand, is an elite NBA defender, but his scoring is not in the same league as Johnson's.
Deron Williams (10): over Valued
Williams had a disappointing 2011-12 season where, despite scoring 22 points per game, he shot a poor 40 percent from the field and averaged less than 10 assists for the first time in several years.
Granted, while Williams will be playing with a far more talented Nets squad next year, his defense is still sorely in question and he still has to prove that he is the 20 points and 11 assists per game stud he once was with the Utah Jazz.
Having said that, Williams is a bit overrated in these rankings. Rajon Rondo (12) is a much better defender than Williams, which is particularly important in an NBA where it seems that just about every point guard is a strong scorer these days.
Strong defense is the ultimate off-setting factor against a litany of talented scoring point guards, and Rondo distinguishes himself in this respect.