Monday, December 28, 2009

NBA All-Decade 2000s: The Underachievers

When David Stern memorably handed over the Larry O’Brien Trophy to "Lakers Alternate Governor" Joey Buss back in June, he effectively closed the book on the decade of the 2000s in the NBA, as the next championship will be won in 2010.

With that in mind, we wanted to take a look back at some of the highlights of the NBA decade. In the third installment of this NBA All-Decade series, we discuss the biggest underachievers of the decade.

Previously in our NBA All-Decade series, we have explored our choices for the best players (MVP: Tim Duncan) and best teams (best franchise: L.A. Lakers) of the 2000s. (Note: On Dec. 31, we also posted our Best of the Playoffs post for the decade.) Today, we explore the players and teams who should've been great, the biggest underachievers of the decade.

We're discussing underachievement in the cosmic sense: players and teams who had the chance for immortality and squandered it. Note that our definition of underachiever does not include guys who were drafted too high, like Kwame Brown or Darko Milicic. Those are players who were poorly evaluated, and overrated, in our definition. Yes, they may have underachieved as players, but they never had the potential to be superstars in the first place. We are looking for the players who had the ability and talent to be superstar players, potentially Hall of Famers, and let it slip away.

So, please note that these are not necessarily the biggest underachievers we've seen overall. They are guys in whom we've seen glimpses of superstar talent at one point or another, but who have failed to deliver on that promise.

As we watched Greg Oden crumple to the floor with another season-ending injury just as he was beginning to come into his own, we realized anew that - as much as anything as fans of this game - we just want to see every player reach his full potential. Note that, for our purposes, we are not including players whose careers were derailed by major injury, such as Grant Hill, in this survey.

Here is our all-decade underachiever team - more info below:
All-NBA First Team
C Rasheed Wallace
F Tim Thomas
F Lamar Odom
G Baron Davis (MVP)
G Stephon Marbury
Team: Dallas Mavericks

You saw it, I saw it, the world saw it: the 2007 Playoffs, a glorious 11-game run in which Baron Davis was completely, utterly unstoppable on both ends of the court. He averaged 25.3 pts, 4.5 reb, 6.5 ast and 2.91 stl on .513 FG% in that postseason. It was really one of the more dominant displays of point-guard play that I've seen, with a box-score production level of 26.8 PER in a career which never topped 21.0 in a single season (and is 18.1 for his career) or 21.4 in another postseason.

As much as that performance stands as the great aberration of Baron's career, I feel like it should have been something closer to the norm. Baron Davis was blessed with quite possibly the best body for playing point guard which has ever been doled out, an impossible combination of power, speed and explosiveness wrapped in a frame listed at 6-3, 210 in its ideal form.

I still remember one episode of Inside the NBA in which Kenny Smith relayed a conversation he had once had with Baron Davis, which went something like this (paraphrasing from memory here):

Kenny: "On offense, is there anyone who can stop you on the basketball court?"
Baron: "No."
Kenny: "On defense, is there anyone who you can't stop on the basketball court?"
Baron: "No."
Kenny: "Then why aren't you one of the ten best players in the league?!?!"

Kenny touches upon the underrated aspect of Baron's lost potential: defense. In 2008, Devin Harris was asked about which point guards were the best at different elements of the game (best shooter, best penetrator, best handle, etc.). For best defender, part of his answer was this: "Baron is a major pain when he's motivated." Indeed, dude was an absolute terror on the ball - the equal of smaller players in terms of speed and quickness, but with overwhelming strength - when motivated. When motivated.

On offense, Davis has hampered himself with a horrendous shot selection, a crippling willingness to repeatedly settle for ill-advised three-pointers ahead of going to the basket. For his career, Davis has a field-goal percentage of .409, with five seasons under 40%. Perhaps the most damning statistic of his career is that he has attempted 5.3 three-pointers per game, and just 4.3 free throws per game.

Yes, Baron has had some injuries along the way, but they have been more of the variety of nagging injuries - quite probably produced in part by being out of shape - than major structural problems.

You may be thinking that Allen Iverson had a similarly bad field-goal percentage, but consider that even The Answer is at .425 for his career, with just two seasons under 40% (and one of those was at .398), and more importantly, Iverson has always compensated for it a little just because of the frequency with which he's gotten to the line: his ratio is 3.8 3PA career vs. 9.0 FTA. With his body, Baron Davis should have a similar ratio, and if he did, I dare say we'd be talking about a Hall of Famer.

Instead we're left with the memory of the Warriors run in the 2007 Playoffs - maybe the most exhilarating basketball we saw all decade, when Baron Davis was a force of nature unlike any other point guard - but little else. Two All-Star games, and one All-NBA Third Team nod in 2003-04. It's a shame.

[One note: one way in which Baron did not underachieve was in the category of facial hair. Dude had the beard of the decade. That thing was a force of nature all of its own.]

In my memory, the 1995 ACC Tournament is one of my favorite college basketball competitions ever. Randolph Childress was the headliner, as he went bananas in averaging 36 pts and 7 ast to lead Wake Forest to an improbable, exciting tournament championship.

What I remember as much as anything were the ferocious battles among quality bigs, something rarely seen in the college game today. The '95 ACC tourney included the no. 1 pick in the 1995 NBA Draft (Joe Smith of Maryland), the no. 4 pick (Rasheed Wallace of North Carolina), and the young man who would have been the no. 1 pick had he come out of college (then-sophomore Tim Duncan of Wake Forest), all going head-to-head inside.

I thought that we were going to be looking ahead to years of battles among these bigs in the league, but it was not to be. It was another young big, high-schooler Kevin Garnett, who became the best player of the 1995 draft class (he was the no. 5 pick), and the definitive comparison of power forwards of the 2000s is Duncan vs. Garnett.

I firmly believe that Rasheed Wallace has had enough talent that the comparison could have and should have been Duncan vs. Garnett vs. Wallace instead.

Yes, Sheed was a key contributor to a championship team after being acquired by Detroit at the trading deadline in 2004, but he could have been so much more. Wallace has made four All-Star teams, but never an All-NBA team.

The first topic that comes to mind when discussing Rasheed Wallace will always be technical fouls, of course. The 41 technicals in 2000-01 was one of the truly epic single-season performances of the decade. Make no mistake, Wallace has hurt his teams in big games, many times, with his technical fouls and ejections. No one has taken the air out of a home building or the energy out of his team quite like Rasheed with one of his ugly, explosive technicals.

Strangely, a related issue which has prevented Sheed from ascending to superstar level has been his unselfishness. Wallace's teammates and coaches have consistently lauded him for being a great team player and for having a high basketball IQ. The problem with this is that Wallace has too often been reluctant to step up and be The Man even when that's exactly what his team has needed.

Rasheed has the talent of a franchise player, and has been paid like a franchise player, but he's never truly stepped up and accepted the responsibility of being a franchise player, whether that's meant being a team's stand-up guy with the media, keeping his emotions under control as a team leader, or demanding the ball repeatedly when his team has needed it.

What's most depressing to me is that we should be talking about how Rasheed's turnaround jumper in the low post was one of the definitive offensive moves of the decade. It's a thing of beauty - those long arms reaching up to a release point so high that the shot is essentially unblockable, with a soft touch to boot. Sheed's turnaround J is a rare move that is truly unstoppable, yet he's preferred to roam around on the perimeter and launch long-range shots increasingly as his career has gone on.

Wallace's career marks of 2.9 threes attempted per game vs. 3.0 FTA per game are almost shameful. Moreover, with his reluctance to demand the ball, Sheed's averaged just 12.5 FGA per game, which has only served to hurt his team. Compare the career numbers:
          FGA   3PA   FTA
Duncan 16.1 0.1 7.2
Garnett 16.1 0.5 4.9
Wallace 12.5 2.9 3.0

Rasheed Wallace should have been a player who averaged 15+ 2-point attempts, primarily from the low blocks, over the last decade. And yes, we list him as a center on this team because he should have spent much more time near the basket.

It's also worth noting that Duncan and Garnett are considered by many, including me, to be the two premier defensive players of the decade, and Wallace is gifted enough - with his length and smarts - that he should have been part of that conversation, too. His defensive brilliance was on display in 2004, when I thought the interior defense of the Wallace boys was the most important factor in the Pistons' championship, but Rasheed has not brought the focus or the effort on a consistent-enough basis to be considered as productive a defensive player as Timmy or KG overall.

Tim Thomas is probably the biggest dog of this whole group, as he has easily achieved the least of any member of this team, never making an All-NBA or All-Star team, or ever coming close, really.

But I swear this guy had the whole package of gifts - a 6-10 player with the coordination and ballhandling ability to take people off the dribble, and the explosiveness to dunk on them with authority at the rim, plus a sweet shooting touch from outside. I still remember seeing a game at Key Arena (excuse me while I pause to pour out a little 40) in which Thomas basically ran the offense as a point forward, expertly finding cutters from the top of the key, easily able to see over the defense at 6-10. He scored off the drive and with his outside shot, as well - Thomas was unstoppable, frankly, and I walked out of the building thinking I had seen one of the 10 most talented players in the league.

On Thomas's Wikipedia page, Ray Allen is quoted as saying: "If he wanted to, Tim Thomas could be the best player in the league."

That's the thing about Thomas - he wasn't really a selfish player, he has shown signs of being a willing passer with good court vision at times. He's just been a supremely unmotivated player.

Statistically, the most telling number is probably the 2.5 FTA per game career, for a guy who could take people off the dribble at 6-10. The 4.1 rebounds per game career is not too far behind.

The Tim Thomas story which sticks in my head is the vignette from Seven Seconds or Less, when the 2005-06 Suns - struggling to replace the lost firepower of Joe Johnson and injured Amare Stoudemire - sign Tim Thomas for the last third of the season in the hopes that he can help get them over the hump. Mike D'Antoni is quoted as saying that maybe he can "fool somebody into another contract."

Even serving as little more than a designated shooter, Thomas did just that. He was a valuable piece of Phoenix's 20-game playoff run to the conference finals, averaging 15.1 pts and 6.3 reb. Then the Clippers signed him to a 4-year, $24 million deal, and his game went back into the tank.

The lasting memory I have is of a friend who is a lifelong Bucks fan, helplessly, plaintively screaming at Thomas through the television: "You're 6-10! You're 6-10!" Indeed, he's always played so much smaller.

Let me start by just saying, "Sorry, SoCal" and "Sorry, Queens". It really hurts me to write this, believe me. I love Lamar, who seems like one of the true good dudes in the league.

I'll also point out that the first thing I wrote after the Lakers championship this year was called "In Praise of Lamar Odom", a nod to how his unselfish acceptance of a sixth-man role in training camp was a key to L.A.'s whole season, and I think L.O.'s performances in Games 5 & 6 of the Nuggets series were as pivotal to the Lakers' season as anyone's.

I'll also remind you to consider our criteria for this post - it's not just based on straight underachievement. Has Lamar Odom underachieved more than, say, Eddy Curry? No way. But we see Curry's ceiling as a guy who pumps in 20+ ppg on a consistent basis, while not providing much else. Lamar Odom, meanwhile, is a guy who's shown us glimpses of superstardom, while never reaching that level as a whole.

Odom has never made an All-NBA or All-Star team. His career numbers of 15-9-4 (16.8 PER) look pretty good. But consider that Lamar's best season statistically was at age 21 in 2000-01 with the Clippers, a 17-8-5 (18.9 PER) which seemed to be a scratching of the surface rather than a high-water mark. After a couple seasons lost to drug suspensions and a variety of injuries, Odom regained his mojo after going to Miami at age 24 in 2003-04, with a 17-10-4 (18.5 PER) stat line.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that Lamar has just a touch of Magic in his game. In my memory, that rebirth season in Miami is one big blur of L.O. grabbing a board and leading a beautiful coast-to-coast run, with that long lefty limb reaching for the goal, or dishing to the open man.

Then, Odom became a Laker and, instead of his career taking off at age 25, he took a step back and became an enigmatic ballplayer - alternately brilliant and invisible, too often disappearing into passivity and seeming deference to Kobe.

When Lamar came back to L.A., many thought that he could become Kobe's Pippen. It's a bit simplistic and unfair to Odom, since they are different players, but the numbers are still telling.

At age 24 in 1989-90, Pippen posted a 17-7-5 season (16.3 PER) which was a taste of things to come, as he was essentially a 20-7-6 (20 PER) guy for the rest of the Bulls championship run, even in Jordan's shadow.

In the summer of 2004, I thought Lamar was headed in the same direction statistically, no matter who he played with. We've never seen a big breakout 19-10-6 season from Odom, which I was certain he had in him, as he's settled in as around a 15-9-4 (17 PER) player.

One of the more interesting numbers is Odom's Usage Rate. (Basketball Prospectus defines Usage Rate as a "the percentage of a team's possessions a player 'uses up' while he is on the floor. The skill being measured is a player's ability to create his own offense for his team. It's one of the most underrated metrics in basketball.")

In his pre-Lakers years, Odom was in the range of a 23-24 Usage Rate, never below a 22.3. In L.A., he's hovered around 18-19. It's yet another indication that Lamar has been too passive and deferential too often as a Laker. Even Pip still managed a Usage Rate of around 24 next to Jordan during the Bulls' championship years.

Given that Lamar Odom has a chance to end up as a key piece of two or three championship teams, we doubt Lakers fans will ultimately care all that much. But as a basketball fan in general, I'm bummed just because I thought in 2004 that Lamar Odom was on the cusp of becoming a perennial All-Star and one of the most consistently joyous players to watch in the league. But it was not to be. We get glimpses, but it's not enough.

On one hand, I'm not completely sold that Stephon Marbury was a Hall-of-Fame talent. On the other, I think that you may forget how productive this dude was in the first half of the decade. For a seven-season stretch from 1998-99 (age 21) through 2004-05 (age 27), Marbury averaged 21.7 pts and 8.3 ast per game. His PER was above 20 in six of those seven seasons. And for a guy with the reputation of a malcontent, he missed just 26 games in the eight seasons from 1997-98 to 2004-05.

Of course, the defining characteristic of Marbury's career was that he was the best player on a losing team, year after year after year. The Nets improved drastically after trading Marbury for Jason Kidd (although they added several other new players as well), and the Suns did the same after Steph was replaced by Steve Nash.

I can't argue with the notion that Marbury wasn't fit to be the leader of a championship contender, but I still believe that he had the ability to become a Hall of Famer because he had the perfect situation in which to do so in Minnesota.

You see, there was a brief time, long ago, when Stephon Marbury was on a winner. As a 20-year-old in 1997-98, Steph was teamed with Kevin Garnett (age 21) and Tom Gugliotta (age 28) to win 45 games in Minny. Then, the T-wolves were 12-6 in 1999 when Marbury threw it all away with his decision to demand a trade.

I do believe that Starbury/KG could have been junior heirs to the Stockton/Malone throne, rolling out 50+ wins consistently, with a handful of deep runs in the playoffs in an admittedly tough Western Conference. If only Marbury could have accepted playing second fiddle to KG, I think his career would be viewed in an entirely different light, with his 20-8 seasons in a winning context.

But Marbury couldn't accept making far less money than KG, whose contract was grandfathered in after a new collective bargaining agreement capped maximum salaries. Then he became an NBA vagabond whose career careened off the tracks, seemingly permanently, beginning at age just 28. Just two All-Star Games, just two All-NBA Third Team nods.

Really, it's amazing: after all of the promise and acclaim for Marbury as a high-school legend and a strong college player in one year at Georgia Tech... just two All-Star Games?

I still remember a quote from then-Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders at the time of the trade, wondering if, many years down the road, all parties would look back and regret having squandered such a golden opportunity. It still seems like a fair question.

Marbury could play, and he could have been viewed as a winner. It was his choice to give it all up.

Here are the overall regular-season records of the five winningest teams of the decade, for the seasons stretching from 1999-2000 through 2008-09:
    SAS 576-244 .702
    DAL 548-272 .668
    LAL 530-290 .646
    DET 497-323 .606
    PHX 491-329 .599
These are the five standout teams by far. Utah has the next-best winning percentage at .561.

The Spurs and the Lakers were the teams of the decade, and the Pistons managed to sneak away with one championship, even though they couldn't capitalize on excellent opportunities for more rings in 2005 and 2006.

That the Suns had to experience yet another tantalizing but ringless decade is certainly a disappointment to their faithful fan base. While Phoenix was struck with plenty of misfortune during its 2005-07 prime, there was never a year in which I thought they were the best team in basketball - I never thought that they flat-out blew a chance to win a title.

That honor would be reserved for the Dallas Mavericks. In general, their decade has to be considered a huge success. Pro basketball was brought back from the dead in the Metroplex: the Mavs went from 24.6 wins/season in the '90s to 54.8 in the '00s, after Mark Cuban took over the franchise in January, 2000.

Indeed, the mark of 55 wins per season is a fairly staggering number - 5-plus wins per season over both the Pistons and Suns. Dallas clearly deserves to share the top tier of the NBA decade with the Spurs and Lakers, if not for the harsh fact that the standings of titles won reads LAL 4, SAS 3, DAL 0.

It has to be a bitter disappointment to end such a fruitful decade without a championship, especially because the title was within their grasp in 2006. They won the best playoff series of the decade - a seven-game thriller over San Antonio - which seemed to decide the best team in the league. Dallas held a 2-0 series lead over Miami, and blew a chance to go up 3-0 after giving up a 13-point fourth-quarter lead. Blame Bennett Salvatore for Game 5 all you want, it never should have been that close. Dallas should have been the 2006 NBA champions and blew it.

Maybe the Mavs weren't better than the champion Spurs in 2007, but it's pathetic that we never even got a chance to see a rematch of their 2006 playoff epic to find out. Dallas' 67-15 record tied the '99-00 Lakers for best single-season record of the decade, yet they were famously upended by the 42-40 Warriors in the first round.

Take a look at the biggest playoff upsets of this decade, using the metric of teams which overcame the biggest deficits of regular-season wins. Here's the entire list of series where a team overcame a deficit of 5 wins or more in the '00s:
    '07 GSW v DAL 25
    '06 MIA v DET 12
    '06 MIA v DAL 8
    '09 ORL v CLE 7
    '04 DET v IND 7
    '07 NJN v TOR 6
    '05 DET v MIA 5
The Mavs were by far and away the biggest playoff underachievers of the decade. They definitely should have won a championship in 2006, and at least challenged the Spurs for another in 2007. That was when both Dallas and Dirk peaked, that was their chance.

It's been a remarkable decade for the Mavericks in many ways, but in the end they stand on the side of the 25 franchises who went ringless.

• More NBA All-Decade 2000s Review:
- Players (Duncan is MVP) | Teams (Lakers are Team of Decade)
- Best of the Playoffs (Horry, Shaq, Mavs-Spurs)


At 10:26 AM, Blogger Adi Joseph said...

Probably could have included Steve Francis as a sixth man.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Yup. I pondered Marbury vs. Francis for the last spot.

I thought Marbury had slightly more potential, but it's certainly a debatable point.

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Fatjeansince'88 said...

Great Article, yet it is bittersweet because for six years Baron Davis was my favorite player along with Amare Stoudemire.

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Vince?? Sure, he's been really good, but man... he was supposed to be the next Jordan.

At 1:35 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Fair question re: Vince. I know that the criteria I used are fairly quirky, so there's lots of angles from which to argue this stuff....

But I would say that, while Vince has not lived up to all of his hype, he has been a 23-5-4 (21.3 PER) guy for his career, who will likely go over 20K career points, and is considered a borderline Hall of Fame candidate.

So I would argue that he has not squandered his potential to the extent that these guys have.

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous jylze said...

tim thomas over antoine walker?

At 3:22 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Toine = Yet ANOTHER tough omission. (Starting to think I should have done a second team here!)

My opinion was that Thomas had a higher ceiling because he was a better athlete. There was never a time when I felt Toine was potentially a top-10 player.

But he could have been a consistent All-Star and definitely falls into the Rasheed club of guys who spent too much time at the 3-point line when they should have been on the low blocks.

I always thought Toine had a clever array of moves down low, and was bummed when he gave it up to become a volume shooter.

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Hoopserver said...

Often the thing that differentiates good players from superstars is not basketball skill or ability but simply personality, and related characteristics (poise, maturity, intensity).

I agree with you that Wallace and Odom have the talent and skills to be superstars. And I agree that neither one of them is a superstar. But, I think they deserve some credit for being able to adjust, and fill complimentary roles on championship teams. Lots of guys with All-Star level talent are never able to even approach their potential (Quentin Richardson, Darius Miles, basically everyone on the Knicks and the Grizzlies), and other guys with All-Star level talent have long careers but are never able to become complimentary players on quality teams (Stackhouse, Arenas, McGrady).

It's tough to bash guys who learn how to contribute to championship teams.

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog, great post. I can't argue with any of them, but here are some other candidates:

Grant Hill: if you include injury

T-Mac: still waiting on that first postseason series win.

Bonzi Wells: Could dominate when he had his head on straight.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Let's not forget C-Webb.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Let's not forget C-Webb.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm pretty sure Walker averaged around 23, 10, and 5 around his fifth year in the league. I definitely thought he was on his way to being a top 10 player. Granted, he was a bit of a chucker at that point, but the dude is a pretty big disappointed. I think effort and motivation are a skill as well, so I never viewed Tim Thomas as being that skilled. His body language sucked, and you could tell he never cared about winning.

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

A list like this without C-Webb, Shawn Kemp (I remember when Oscar said on national TV Kemp was a lock for the hall of fame), and Vin Baker is just incomplete. Perhaps you need a 1,2, and 3rd team all-underachiever. :-)

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Shawn Kemp? The guy peaked in '95-'96, and has three All-NBA 2nd teams, and six all-star games. Regardless of your expectations, I'm not sure how he would qualify for all underachieving of any decade. Much less the aughts.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

That's funny, Michael, but I'd note the following:

- I'd put C-Webb in the class of Vince - didn't reach his full potential, but didn't squander it, either, and is still a borderline HoF guy. Was the best player on a near championship team, 5 All-NBA nods including 1 1st Team & 3 2nd Teams. He *was* a top 10 player at one point, even though he did leave something on the table.

- Kemp was 30 at the start of the decade, and Baker was 28, and both were already on their way down - I considered them more 90s guys than 2000s.

Although I don't think was anywhere near the class of Rasheed or Odom in terms of potential. Kemp, yes, for sure.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Meant to say, "Although I don't think *Baker* was anywhere near the class of Rasheed or Odom in terms of potential. Kemp, yes, for sure."

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Hazard Stefans said...

Antoine Walker:

Never posted a PER above 19, although his PTS/RED/AST have been very good in some seasons (20/9/4 area). Why? So many shots, so many missed 3s. For a guy who scarcely shot 32% for his career from beyond the arc, 4.8 3PA vs. 3.7 FTA is no good.

Lamar Odom:

Not a Lakers fan at all, and do agree that for a 4th pick he has underachieved, but you got to give it up for his clutch performances at big moments in very big games.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Antoine's career was a shame. He did so many things well on the court, pass, rebound, had some scoring ability, that he could have had immense value if he didn't hurt his overall impact by trying to score so much. He could have been the ultimate do everything forward, averaging 17, 10, 5 with 1.5 steals a game. On the offensive end, it wasn't so much that he eschewed an inside game for three pointers, it was that he didn't have the ability to be a really effective high volume scorer from anywhere on the court. At the rim, his lack of touch and lift hindered his effectiveness and from outside, he was never a great shooter. He then made things worse by shooting so many threes. However, he had enough scoring ability that if limited to mid-range shots, full court drives, slashes, some mismatch post ups, that he could have scored at a good percentage.

Maybe if he had been on a team where he wasn't made the top dog so early, if there were established all-star veterans whom he had to defer to and fit around, maybe he would have turned out differently. I know he was on such a team with Miami but by then he was already so set in his ways, he didn't fit in that well, a referee-handed championship notwithstanding.

At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we are to talk about wasted potential Shaq has to be way up on the list. Despite being the most dominant player in the league, Shaq has NEVER won a rebounding title - he takes up so much space on the court he probably doesn't even need to box out. Sure he has won 4 championships (3 finals MVP's) but he should have done much more given that he was the league's best player and most dominant force from when Jordan hung it up in '98 until around 2004. Shaq could easily have put up Wilt Chamberlain numbers if he was ever motivated to do so, instead he never bothered to show up for a season in-shape.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger AO said...

Like the last guy said, great post.

How bout Tracy McGrady?

At 11:43 PM, Blogger MarkP said...

I'd run with Tim Thomas as the MVP. Let's not forget the guy was ranked ahead of Kobe in HS.

Baron has won 3 playoff series to Steve & Steph's combined 0. Baron might have more potential than them, but at least he has some success to show for it.

Kenyon Martin could be another suggestion, considering how good JKidd made him look in NJ.

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as it pains me to say, I have to agree with you on the most underachieving team of the decade. Not only that, but I'd say the Mavs would definitely win biggest NBA playoff choking job this decade, and quite possibly ever.

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add Jermaine Oneal

Stephen Jackson maybe?

At 2:38 AM, Blogger dalandan said...

Dude, Sheed's good. I would take someone that good who isn't "KG/TD level" but almost there anyday.

Sheed does his job. He could have been better. But that still doesn't mean he should be on the first team over


At 3:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Ron Artest? Does anyone remember how good he was, pre-brawl? Dude looked like the second coming of Pippen to me. Just a fantastic two-way player.

I suppose the only difference between a guy like Ron and a guy like Sheed is that Artest still could hit his potential.

At 4:16 AM, Blogger palahniuk_fan said...

I think Shack is the most disappointing ever. He could have been the greatest of all time. Nobody could have stopped Shack for 15 years if he had been willing to work harder. He's lacy but is body is the best ever to play bb

At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your pick of BD at #1 is on the money. I remember seeing that guy play at UCLA and thinking he was a lock to be a perennial 1st team all NBA member. Just the total package of physical skills that never really materialized into a HOF career.

At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got to laugh at that spelling Shack and Lacy, lol

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If VC, C-Webb, Kemp are left off because they did "enough" then The Big Blubberaqtus obviously wouldn't make it. For 'Toine, he's basically a crazy version of Mashburn in this context, both those guys were decent but never had the level of potential that Lamar and Sheed had. The only reason their numbers ever got that high is b/c they were just barely good enough to be the #1 option on their mediocre teams, giving each of them about 40-45 shots a game, where they would make maybe 8 (exagerration *spell* of course).
Three good ones I saw in comments are Artest, Stephen Jackson, and Jermaine (though J's could be attributed to injuries b/c he did pretty good in Indiana for a few years).

At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SHAQ on this list? You guys obviously weren't that good at basketball. Do you know the type of where and tear carrying around 320 plus pounds does to a man's body? Shaq is a monster, period. Second or third greatest center EVER! He was that big AND he was cat quick in his prime.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Hazard Stefans said...

Even mentioning Shaq in the same breath as these guys is preposterous. It is not at all a stretch to argue that he's the best center of all time. Wilt played against centers who were 6' 7", and I think to assert that Wilt could have banged around with Shaq is pretty silly. Kareem may have been more dominant for longer,

Shaq led the league in PER 5 years in a row. Kareem never did that, although he did lead in PER 9 times, which is verifiably ridiculous. On the other hand, Shaq posted 3 of the top 15 single season PERs of all time. Kareem's best? #17, 29.94 in the '71-'72 season with Milwaukee.

In other words, Shaq's accomplishments cannot be understated. Sure, he may have had the most dominant body anyone has ever seen or imagined, but he certainly did not let his unparalleled physicaly abilities go to waste.

Also, Jamal Crawford is a serious under-achiever. Dude's got ridiculous athleticism that he squanders on bad, long 2's. But who hasn't seen the guy go off for 50? What is he doing with all that potential on night's where he doesn't put up double figures? Also, he won't play defense to save his life.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

I'd put C-Webb in the class of Vince - didn't reach his full potential, but didn't squander it, either, and is still a borderline HoF guy. Was the best player on a near championship team, 5 All-NBA nods including 1 1st Team & 3 2nd Teams. He *was* a top 10 player at one point, even though he did leave something on the table.

I hear you. C-Webb was just so incompetent in the clutch, but he probably doesn't fall into the all time underachieving team.

Kemp was 30 at the start of the decade, and Baker was 28, and both were already on their way down - I considered them more 90s guys than 2000s.

Yes I will give you Kemp also, especially since he was drafted in 1989. The first half of the 2000's though should have seen him cementing his place among the basketball immortals, as noted by the Big O. The man was genuinely feared around the league when he was at the top of his game.

On the other hand, unlike your list, he didn't just display flashes, he was indeed a basketball immortal for awhile. He just didn't past the test of longevity which I think is related to but not necessarily the same as an underachiever.

Although I don't think *Baker* was anywhere near the class of Rasheed or Odom in terms of potential. Kemp, yes, for sure.

No question he didn't have the potential of any of the three above, but at 28 one should be entering his prime, not falling off the rails. The fact that he was already going downhill speaks volumes. Barring injuring, the the first half of the 2000's should have seen him as one of the top players, maybe even a little longer depending on how his body would have reacted to proper care.

Thanks for an interesting post.

At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a HUGE mavs fan but cant seem to disagree with you on any of the points that you made about them. Good article

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous jylze said...

maybe I'm alone in this, but I think Toine had the tools to become a Barkley-type player. I honestly think his biggest weakness was conditioning - and if he had been slimmer and stronger, he would not have been so quick to settle for long-range Js.

great post btw.

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Rodman said...

How long did you consider the inclusion of Isaiah Rider?

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

C-Webb and 'Sheed are by far and away the two biggest underachievers of this decade. I totally agree with everything said about 'Sheed.

Quote I read about 'Sheed "He's the only guy in this league that can out-quick Duncan and out-muscle Garnett." His name should have been mentioned with theirs in every debate this decade.

C-Webb is sort of a 90's/00's player, but he never played clutch. Saying that he and Vince shouldn't make it because they did just enough work to have had some success is exactly why they should be on this list. They shied away from contact and didn't play as big as their talents dictated. Neither should be a borderline HOF'er. They both should have played up to be first ballots.

Kenyon Martin was supremely overrated and his career was derailed by multiple microfracture surgeries. He never showed HOF talent. It's not his fault Denver gave him the max. It's Denver's.

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strongly disagree with the selection of the Mavericks...I know people hate when teams blame officiating, but if the Mavs didn't "deserve" to win that game 3 to the Heat, did the Heat "deserve" it any more? Of course not. The Mavs didn't play well after two games, but they played well enough to win...except for something they had no control over. It's a very unfair assessment to say "even though the refs were unfair, they still should not have given up the lead". Officiating is a part of the game, and in this case it was unbalanced enough to give a championship to a team that would have otherwise lost.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have to disagree with your inclusion of Baron Davis. While everyone on this list is either pretty much done (Tim Thomas & Starbury) or on the downslide of their career (Odom & Sheed), B-Diddy still has a lot left in the tank. Just because statistically he doesn't measure up to your standards does not make him a disappointment. While he has all the athletic ability in the world, he was never considered a great (or even good) shooter, hence his low free throw percentage earlier in his career. And while he did jack up 3's, consider the teams he played for. In Charlotte, they had bulk up front with Campbell and DC in the block, so that his role was facilitator or jump shooter. In GSW, it's run & gun and he ran that team to perfection for two years. Now with LAC, he's been hurt, but who knows what'll happen when Blake comes in. They could be a playoff team on verge of another upset!

Finally, I am a Mavs fan, and while I do agree with you that they're the most disappointing team of the decade, you contradict yourself in mentionning the 2007 playoffs, because that was the year Baron Davis destroyed us. That right there proves he met his potential. A #8 seed that barely made the playoffs really owns us and probably could've won the series 5-1 if not a miraculous effort by Dirk in Game 5. It just prevented the inevitable, and let me conclude by saying B-Diddy absolutely terrified me that series. Anytime he had the rock, I knew good things (bad from my perspective) were going to happen.


At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jermaine Oneal is absolutely one of the biggest underachievers in the past decade. He was a dominant force when he played in Indiana, and after that he has just bounced from team to team such as Toronto and Miami,accepting lowly role playing spots on teams in need of a center. Plus hes about 95 pounds heavy then what he was when he came into the league.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

In all Fairness to the Mavs, They DID WIN the title in 2006. Daunaghy admitted those finals were fixed and that Dallas was the better team.

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Adrian Hines said...

Baron Davis handed over the reigns in 2004 I think when Wade and the Heat went against the Hornets and Davis. To me that was the coming out party for D-Wade. He made Davis look like a lil kid.

This is an excellent post b/c it helps us to look at how we as individuals can have so much "talent" in life but yet underachieve for whatever reason.

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that the mavs were so successful precludes them from being classified as overachievers.. look at some teams from portand, phoenix, and sacramento.. that were 'supposed' to win it all.. and didn't. the mavs were never the favorites going into a season and they always played well with not the best talent in the league.

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a few more that no one mentioned:

1) Robert Horry - he hit lots of big shots when it counts, but he really could have been a perennial All-Star if he tried

2) J.J. Redick - seriously, did you watch him at Duke? I thought he'd take the NBA by storm - another Ray Allen, perhaps

3) Yao Ming - don't get me wrong, he's a *good* player, but he's also clumsy, injury-prone, and has no where near lived up to the hype

4) Kwame Brown - almost too easy to pick on him - can't believe no one mentioned him

5) Darko Milicic - just like Kwame

6) Ben Gordon - totally dominant when he wants to be, but so inconsistent

7) Stromile Swift - just never materialized into anything

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Rafelito said...

Steve Francis should be added also

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about kenyon martin.. he was awesome w/ the nets got paid all that money and has sucked since?

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Miller was ROY and along w/ TMAC almost beat the pistons in the 1st round of 02.. since then he's become strictly a 3point shooter

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you cant include people like Kwame Brown, Darko, Stromile etc. these guys were simply busts, not necessarily under achievers. Underachiervers are actually players that did achieve something, just well under what they were expected. Here are a couple JR Rider, Glenn Robinson, Eric Dampier, Jason "White Chocolate" Williams, Jamal Mashburn, Jimmy Jackson

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cant blame AAU. The best players in the NBA did not go to college and were ALL products of AAU. If college is the teacher you say. Why is it the longer a player stays in college their Draft stock falls. ( there are a few exceptions not many) If you look at the last few years when the NBA changed the draft rules All of the one and done players would have went stright to the pros And most did not play for "Great college coaching" Coach K taught S.Williams and JJ Redick to play college ball" that does not equal pro ball. In college they play zone D and do not have to create there own shot. In the pros they get exposed. The beef with AAU is not style of play its about control of the kids.

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would rate the Mavs as the most Overachieving team of the decade rather than underachieving. They achieved a lot as you showed in your article. Second best winning percentage, 9 consecutive 50 wins seasons, average 55 wins per season. won about50 playoff games and a Western Conference Championship that should have belonged to the Spurs.

Dallas did it with basically just Dirk. Desagana Diop and Erick Dampier tandem at center. Adrian Griffin at shooting guard. Jason Terry at PG. Young Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels at small forward. And yet somehow they made the NBA finals? Over the Spurs and Suns with guys like Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire, Shawn Marion, Tim Thomas, Tim Duncan, Bruce Bowen, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Brent Barry, Michael Finley and Robert Horry.

It was an amazing overachievement by a team that had no business being that competitive against teams with stacked rosters like the Suns and Spurs. They did it with Dirk supported by guys like Diop and Adrian Griffin and Marquis Daniels and Jason Terry and a rookie coach going against HOF'ers like Pop, D'Antoni and Pat Riley.

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand putting KMart on this list. He was the #1 pick in a weak draft and was overrated. He was an undersized big man with some hops (now limited) who played with intensity and emotion. He looked like an All-Star in NJ because Jason Kidd was getting him the ball for dunks and layups. He's a very awkward offensive player and has an ugly jumper. Bottom line - he hasn't underachieved - he's done what he could given his talent, skill-level and injuries.

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand how people are saying Chris Webber is an underachiever of the decade? The guy is a top 15 PF of all time and did so many things well. Somewhat reliable jumper, a bevy of post moves, good rebounder, impressive hands, and possibly one of the best passing big men of all time. Not only that, but the whole Kings offense was basically predicated upon him operating from the high post and getting all their offense from his decision making. During the Lakers first championship run this decade, the Kings were pretty much the ONLY competition the Lakers had.
Saying Jason Williams is an underachiever is BS too. He was never a great shooter, just thought he was. He had tantalizing dribble moves, but wasn't a great finisher. I'd say, if anything, he has overachieved, going from becoming a reckless rookie to being a stable vet who makes good decisions. Thank Hubie Brown for turning him into the pro he is today.
The whole premise of this post is a bit unfair too. How many of you people reading this give 110% every day of your job? How many of you even care about being the best at your job? I know I sure don't because the only reward would basically be a pat on the back especially in this dismal economy. It seems not getting fired has more of an effect on motivation in these days of massive layoffs. While the NBA is a dream to most people, to them it is a reality.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The Baron Davis pick is on point. Everyone forgets his 01-02 playoff series against the Magic where he basically averaged a triple double: 25pts 9reb 9ast 3stl 1blk. He wasn't so bad in the next series against the Nets either averaging 21pts 5reb 7ast 4stl including two games where he had SEVEN steals! I remember thinking "This guy is the most physically gifted pg i've ever seen." This guy had too much talent to not be an all-timer.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm not even a Mavs fan, but I still think they should get a pass for the '06 Finals, because it was just such a travesty. I think the same points you made about how we view Marbury's numbers on losing teams would apply to Dallas if they hadn't been robbed of the '06 title. They'd be like Detroit, at least they got one, maybe they should've challenged for more, but definitely not most disappointing team of the decade.

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting post - and some great comments, too.

I have to agree with Baron Davis. I watched him early in his career in Charlotte and he was unstoppable. From what I've read, he's a good guy off the court. I just don't know that he had the passion for basketball that the true greats typically have.

I don't know if Antoine Walker should be considered an underachiver, because I'm not sure his talent level was that high. He was a good scorer, but not much else (and a poor defender of legendary proportions). I just don't think he had Franchise Player potential to start with.

Having said that, the dude's only like 33, 34 and he's been out of the league for some time. While I don't think Walker was an All-Decade Disappointment, he could've done more.

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert Horry was not an underachiever. A few scouts compared his game to Pippen, but was mostly a role player in college. The teams main player was Sprewell. When he was drafted, most Rockets fans were upset the team didn't pick Harold Minor (underachiver of the 90's). Plus, Horry was drafted in 92-93, he was 30 in 2000, hardly an age where you would see a players game improve.

An omission is Tyson Chandler. He was supposed to be a freak coming out of high school. A 7'00 who could run and shoot. He was terrible on the Bulls, and has been medicore for the Hornets.

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous hethatbe king said...

come on guys. lets not jump on the mavs too hard. I mean they did give a long beleaguered Warriors a reason to shine momentarily after 14 yrs of a long and deep darkness. That has to be worth something.

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Moonman said...

WHY ALL THE TALK ABOUT THE "DECADE"????? The decade isn't over until 12/31/2010!!!!!!

At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the post saying JJ Reddick should be on this list: That's an absurd name to even consider. He can shoot, sure. but he is by far the classic Steve Kerr-type player. Clutch for a few key shots off the bench, but too undersized to play consistent minutes based on the defensive need.

As for underachievers, the Rockets come to mind. Yao, Artest, and TMAC should have dominated the entire NBA...period.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger Audrey said...

monman youre a moron. the decade is over after today, dumbass

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with others who commented that TMAC should top this list and take MVP honors.

He is the most overrated and biggest underachiever OF ALL TIME!

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


There is no zero year. The calendar went from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. not 1 B.C. 0 B.C. That means the decade started in 1 A.D. and ended in 11 A.D. Therefore, the current decade runs from 2001 to 2011.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger tf said...

As a Raps fan, I would include Vince, simply because his ceiling was so goddam high. For those who got to see him on a daily basis, his skill set was incredible (not just dunk highlights). Unfortunately, his biggest drawback - lack of motivation/effort - is most noticeable when, late in the game, game on the line, he'll take the fadeaway jumper (and it's a good one don't get me wrong) or go for a nice assist, instead of willing himself to the rack. Very frustrating when opposing team gets in the penalty with half a quarter to go and Vince settles for jumpers rest of quarter, especially when he can get anywhere on the court he wants.

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Darryl said...

Micheal Redd was 4 sure one he hasnt dont really nothin in this decade

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm what about tmac? if u wanna talk about talent then include this guy. he was supposed to be the next big thing and hes never even taken his team to the second round.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent post, brings back lots of memories. In your second team you would have to include Darius Miles, i mean the guy has ridiculous athletic gifts, has been put in all sort of favorable contexts and he just played himself out of the NBA. I dont think he's even playing overseas. And he did show some glimpses of talent in his first years.

K-mart was just a hugely overrated player who had the chance of being athletic and playing alongside j-Kidd. It's a mirror of R-Jefferson. Kidd made them look good but truly they're average players.Like the Phoneix guys with Nash (Q-rich, Amare, Boris Diaw, C Frye)

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

What about Darius Miles? He was hyped as the next Kevin Garnett--a fluid, lanky athletic 3/4 who could fly up and down the floor, rattle the rim and block shots? In my opinion, he should assuredly be on this list. Jason (White Chocolate) Williams also deserves some consideration here after this first few seasons of making Kings/Grizzlies basketball watchable before finally imploding.

At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

listen guys TMAC cannot be included on this list...3 reason are
1. He has one of the highest per game scoring average in the playoffs ever so u cannot say that he has not performed in the playoffs his teams always suck except for the houston teams, in which case the last 2 were destroyed by Yao ming injuries and by the UTAH Jazz and carlos boozer owning him.
2.He is a perennial all star and has been 1st team all NBA 3 times in his career in the same season as KOBE so you cannot say that he is overrated .
3. And u cannot blame a guy for being hurt he has been hurt quite a bit in his career but he produces when he is on the court 20000 points in his career and has averaged 24pts and 5 reb and 5 asst for his career leave TMAC alone he does not belong on this list

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it looks like this article is targeted towards more successful "underachievers" - but i feel Kwame Brown should be on this list b/c he is the ultimate underachiever. Additionally, it was MJ's idea to select him number one overall.

I think Kwame is (or was) one of the best athletes in the NBA. He's like Amare, but bigger and stronger. Sure he can't shoot as well, but if he attacked and finished like Amare he could have been great. An athletic body like his should have torn shit up. Instead, he has never, not even in one season used his size and strength to dominate the floor as he is mentally absent from most games.

In my book, biggest flop of the decade.

It hurts me to see Lamar on the list. I don't see him as being an underachiever, but instead someone who's just accepted his role. Playing among Kobe as a forward has got to be tough especially if you're not a great outside shooter. Now it's even more difficult with Bynum and Gasol taking up a big man attack space. Also Lamar's rebounding is exceptional and his defense has really picked up the last couple of years. I don't think anyone Lakers player or fan would consider Lamar an underachiever. If he was, they would have traded him.

At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dipshit who added Yao to his list is anonymous for a reason. I'd be pretty embarrassed if my all-decade team included him too.

At 1:44 AM, Anonymous Mr Hish said...

Great post ... had me thinking for a while on this.

I have to say - I would put C-Webb on your 1st team as well. Yeah the guy did pretty well for his career in the end, but I remember days when it seemed like he had all the tools to be an iconic player. Once I remember him recording a 40-10-10 - absolutely sick.

Other names I'd throw out there - Larry Johnson ("Grandmama"), Penny Hardaway, and Derrick Coleman. Of course, maybe these names all belong on the 90's team instead.

At 1:48 AM, Blogger April said...

Actually, I think T-Mac fails the longevity issue, not under-production. At his peak he was an effortlessly efficient scorer, smooth facilitator, and totally unselfish (check out his assist to turnover ratios from his prime, and assist numbers). His body just broke down on him (no surprise, he has legs like toothpicks) and he turned into a volume jumpshooter out of necessity. He was also always on underdog teams, and if you actually watched him play in the playoffs, he was totally dominant. His teams just weren't that good.

At 2:12 AM, Blogger Young Gun said...


Monman and Anonymous is correct. :).. hmm, it reminds me we celebrated 2 millennium years on 2000 (the wrong one) and 2001.

At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

any block of ten years is a decade you guys aguing about when a decade ends and starts.

Therefore any reference to "the past decade" simply means the last ten years.

At 4:28 AM, Blogger dazeone said...

Sheed is a winner. People always talk about how athletes put themselves ahead of the team. He never did that and as a result he has a ring. He could have easily been a fixture at the allstar game but he chose to win, like he will in Boston this year

At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the main team of the article and most of the suggestions. If we could extend the list, what about Larry Hughes? Maybe he could make teh 3rd team.

Also, for those arguing when a decade ends.It's obvious. the 80s went from 1980-1989, 90s 90-99. Next decade is 2000-2009. No one cares about BC 1 to AD 1.

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biggest overachiever. Ben Wallace. Not even a close second.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great post.

To the person who posted that Kwame Brown should have been considered as he had immense talent "if only he could finish like Amare".

But that was just the problem, he couldn't...and it wasn't necessarily 100% his fault. He is severely limited by his small hands. Oh how many times have I seen Kwame miss a dunk all because he had the hands of a 10 year old girl and couldn't properly palm the ball?

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the team is about right. but baron davis is a beast!! he still is i mean i honestly think he lived up to his potential, maybe he underachived a bit as a player but he is the best leader in the NBA (IMO).i would put vince in there because as someone else said , he was supposed to be the next Micheal Jordan. i say his attitude is the reason why he did not become micheal Jordan. if he played at duke instead of UNC coach k would have set him strait!! (lol that is very baised considering i bleed duke blue)! GREAT POST

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Jay said...

why should anybody considering Yao a flop be considered a "dipshit"??

If ppl can somehow consider Shaq an underachiever (??) when he won 3 Finals MVP awards in the decade, then Yao DEFINITELY is! I remember all that talk about "the time is Yao" and how he'd be "owning" the league for the foreseeable future while easily dominating the centre position. I doubt that anybody could really argue that he's been any sort of dominant force this decade...

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about darko? He has been a failure.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eddy Curry. At least Sheed won some stuff and contributed.
Eddy Curry led the league in FG percentage or at least was a close second to Shaq when Shaq was in his prime.

A 7 footer with amazing athleticism which he showed from time to time during a few years on not-so-great Bulls teams, he had an impact.

But a 7 footer who average 3-4 rebounds a game, what a disgrace.

The amazing thing is ESPN still doing stories on this guy and the hopes that he will have an impact on the NYK. That is almost as laughable. Just to feed the viewer base of NYC you have to pretend that EC will ever amount to much as a BB player.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger jtothem said...

Vince Carter should be #1 on the list. Remember when he criticized Kobe after the 81 point game for being selfish. Wow - He is a garbage shooter who is fat and lazy.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I would not include Wallace and Odom. Both of their talents did lead to a title for their teams. That is not underachieving. (same with Walker)

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Let’s not forget, (at least SoCal locals shouldn’t), that Baron fled to the NBA in a hot-second after UCLA and Steve Lavin were bounced from the tourney after I year. Sure, it’s not unusual for a player to be “1-and-done”, but with Baron there was a feeling that he had to go. That back of his was like rolling in a Saturn…you just never know if this is going to be your last trip for a while. His UCLA days were a microcosm of his NBA career. Flashes of brilliance, nothing accomplished, times when the dude will make you scream for joy before you realize you’re alone in your living room drinking beers in boxers in a Danny Manning Clipper jersey…but always thinking…when’s that injury coming? Surprisingly, he’s actually had a pretty lengthy career when some very productive years. I would actually argue that he’s overachieved considering that this guy was 19 and injury talk already surrounded him. 19!

Sure Mavs have disappointed, but the Pistons only came out of that dominate run with 1 championship. Remember, these guys were the New England Patriots of the NBA. They were a machine….and only 1 championship.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Caderade said...

Andrei Kirilenko has got to be a bigger underachiever than Odom. The guy had the potential (and the contract) of a top 10 player in the league. Instead, he's the third or fourth best player on the Jazz.

At 2:40 PM, Anonymous brandon knight said...

I think Rasheed is the most talented on the 1st team,and he should be the MVP. Baron Davis should get a pass based on the injuries he has had.

At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh lamar just won a ring and you are gonna say hes not using his potential to the fullest? really? thats whats wrong with the nba... a guy plays his role to perfection and some blogger is knocking him because hes accepted a role perfect for him on a team thats already is stacked. He doesnt need to contribute more than what hes contributing as it may detriment the team.

At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wouldn't call the Pistons underachieving. They won a title with a bunch of no-name players that nobody wanted. The first couple seasons of their resurgence they really had no business winning 50 games.

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont think Sheed deserves to be on this list above Jermaine O'neal, Darius Miles, and Boris Diaw is just another Tim Thomas. Lamar Odom has a pretty good career. And for anyone that puts Vince Carter on this list they should also put Yao on this list because even when he is not injured he is nowhere close to being the most dominant Center like people thought. Some others that i haven't seen mentioned yet would be Marquis Daniels, Mike Bibby, and Elton Brand.

At 5:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mere fact that Odom is the Lakers 6th Man and probably the 4th (behind Kobe, Gasol and Bynum) best player, when at the start of the decade he looked like he would be one the top 10 players in the league for the 2000s, means he underachieved.

Odom should have the career that saw him garner All-NBA team spots, 6 to 9 All-Star Games and been one of the unforgettable players of the decade, but his legacy is playing well enough to convince the Lakers to take him for Shaq, and not being able to become the Pippen to Kobe's Jordan.

In my opinion the easiest way to rate this remember what you thought these players were capable of at the start of the decade; Odom is perfect because he was drafted in 1999, and thus had the entire decade to underachieve in. Or maybe he just got terminal Clipper-itis.

Tim Thomas is an interesting one; comparable talents to Odom, but so lazy and unmotivated I'm surprised that he could even be bothered to sign the contracts he keeps conning owners into offering him.

And he didn't even play for the Clippers until his 10th year...

At 5:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I THink you forgot to add isaih as the gm

At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Brian Pelham, NY said...

Great Post
Eddy Curry anyone?

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to say don't forget the players from DUKE. All those guys NBA careers was disappointing.80s,90s,and the 2000s.

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey dumbasses arguing about the dedade if the a decade ran from from year to 1 to year 11 that would be 11 years dumbasses and now that we do have 0's in our years the decade ended thursday

At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Joel said...

I was just thinking about this exact topic a couple days before you made this post. Your choices are more or less the same I would have made, although I might have listed Vince over Marbury (who was never smart enough to be a great PG in my opinion).

Wallace is the one who annoys me the most, because he had arguably the most complete skill set of any big man in the last decade. He could post up (as you mentioned, his baseline turnaround was money), face up, shoot with unlimited range, finish the break, pass, rebound, guard his position, block shots, and play excellent team defense - all at a very high level. Throw in his athleticism and intelligence and he could indeed have rivaled the likes of Duncan and Garnett if he wanted to.

I take issue with the notion that 'unselfishness' played a role in preventing him from fulfilling his potential. Duncan, Garnett, and Nowitzki are all unselfish players, but they didn't shirk the responsibility of being the go-to guy that their reputations, skill levels, and salaries demanded.

Back to Vince - when was the last time this guy has played at an MVP level over the course of a season? 2001? 2002? For a player with his talent, making a few ASGs (thanks largely to fan voting) and a couple All-NBA second and third team selections (none since 2001) is not good enough.

Compare that to his cousin T-Mac, a player with similar talent who is often lambasted for being soft, selfish, a loser, etc. T-Mac has made 7 All-NBA teams (first team twice), won 2 scoring titles, and at least been a factor in the MVP race a couple of times.

All of that is to say that for all T-Mac's flaws, he was a consistently dominant player for a good stretch when he wasn't dealing with injuries. Vince was just as gifted, and was rarely able to separate himself in that manner. He didn't really accomplish any more than Marbury in the last decade - nice but not great numbers without much team success to show for it - but I think his ceiling was a lot higher.

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No Eddie Griffin?

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Wait a minute...

All these players are BLACK!

Therefore, you obviously think all black players are underachievers.

Shame on you.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Dave O said...

Darko Miličić isn't black....

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I actually hate to disagree with you on the underachiving team of the decade and I'd actually go with the Phoenix Suns. Man were that SSOL team fun to watch. I mean I do agree that Dallas blew their chances but they did reach the NBA finals and conference finals a couple of times. The Suns never reached the NBA finals and in a few years when you look back at the 2000s what team would you say was the funenst to watch? Finally, I believe it was in 2005 where the Suns were the numer 1 seed and IMO were the best team in the league and were defeated by the Spurs in six. Their hearts were just contniually ripped out by the Spurs. Also in '04 Suns were one of the top if not the top team with nash, joe johnson, marion, quention richardson, and amare. It's just sad they had to be broken up. RIP SSOL.

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I know this is old, but how does Darius Miles not make this list!?

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