#NBArank debates: Nos. 41-45
5-on-5: Instant analysis of the latest NBA ballers unveiled in our player rankings
- Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesKevin Martin and Monta Ellis struggle to D up, but one may get defensive after seeing our panel's take.
What do the experts think of the latest players to hit the #NBArank pages?
After each player is unveiled, our 5-on-5 crew will give their reactions on whether the rankings' 91-person panel is on the money.
1. Monta Ellis at No. 41: Too high, too low or just right?
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Waaay too high. Ellis might be the league's most overrated player. He puts up great per-game numbers, padded by a fast pace and huge minute totals, but with middling efficiency, at best. Add in that he barely tries on defense, and you end up with the conclusion that a lot of players are more valuable. Consider: The Warriors have been markedly better each of the past two seasons when he's off the court.
Brett Koremenos, HoopSpeak: Too high. He sits at No. 43 in player efficiency rating (PER) but his defensive shortcomings should move him down just a bit lower. Somewhere between 55-60 is probably more accurate when gauging his game in a vacuum.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Too high. Labeled a poor man's Allen Iverson by many because of his high-volume, low-efficiency ways on offense, it's Ellis' bad defense that ultimately makes it difficult to justify ranking him ahead of a player like Kevin Martin. Granted, Martin isn't good on defense either, but he offers more on offense than Ellis does.
Danny Savitzky, Nets Are Scorching: Too low. Ellis might be an adventure on the defensive end, but his offensive skills are enough to put him in the ranks of the NBA's top-40 players. He can score the ball at will and is a decent passer, too. If Mark Jackson can turn him into any sort of presence on the other side of the ball, a No. 41 ranking would be a travesty.
Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom: Just right. Ellis is a great scorer, albeit an inefficient one. But he's exciting to watch and that shouldn't be totally glossed over. Basketball is about entertainment and he's among one of the league's best at satisfying that aspect.
2. Kevin Martin at No. 42: Too high, too low or just right?
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: This is about right. Martin is the most underrated offensive player in the league -- he was second in the NBA in points per minute and did it, as usual, with an impressive true shooting percentage. Adjust for his 31 minutes a game and nobody is more potent. Alas, like Ellis, he plays no defense, and he's also been injury-prone.
Brett Koremenos, HoopSpeak: Way too low. Martin is battling Manu for the title of the third-best SG in the league behind Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, but gets no love on a national scale. While judged harshly for his defense and the fact he's never made a deep playoff run, Martin is still a top-30 talent in this league, at worst. Just the fact he was top-five in both 3-pointers made and free throws attempted should raise his rating.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Too low. Martin has been performing at an All-Star-caliber level for the past several seasons, but he hasn't gotten a nod because he's been on non-playoff teams in Sacramento and Houston and he plays in the Western Conference. Always among the league leaders in true shooting percentage and offensive rating, Martin is the poster child for offensive efficiency.
Danny Savitzky, Nets Are Scorching: Just right. Martin isn't quite the scorer Ellis is, and he's just as questionable on the defensive end. He also lacks Ellis' ability to take over a game. If Martin becomes a better passer and starts to exist on the boards, he'll be worth a spot in the top 40.
Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom: Just right. You could make the case that he's more valuable than Ellis. Martin has the size advantage and he's a much more efficient scorer. But durability is probably why he's ranked behind the Golden State guard.
3. Josh Smith at No. 43: Too high, too low or just right?
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: This strikes as me as slightly on the low side, but not enough to get real upset about. Smith is maddening because he takes so many ill-chosen jump shots, but he's a borderline All-Star anyway because he's a plus defender, he's durable, he can score in the paint and on the break, and he can handle and pass.
Brett Koremenos, HoopSpeak: Too low. A questionable attitude and poor shot selection certainly don't help his cause, but Atlanta's roster construction hasn't done much to augment his strengths, which decreases his value (especially in the eyes of fans). Even without that caveat, I can't name 42 other players I'd rather have.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Too low. Smith is a running joke at times because he settles way too much for perimeter jumpers and 3-pointers when he should be using his athleticism to attack the basket. Snubbed from the All-Star Game the past two seasons, Smith can be a special player when he's focused on both sides of the ball and not being lazy.
Danny Savitzky, Nets Are Scorching: Just right. Smith has all the tools to be a lot higher on this list. He's athletic, he can score, and he can defend. The problem is he's just not interested in playing his best basketball. He's more concerned with taking ill-advised long jumpers (although he's stopped doing that to some degree), missing wide-open windmill dunks and quitting on his coaches in the playoffs.
Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom: Just right. When you factor in age and talent, he's perhaps the best third option on any team. It's fitting that he's ranked ahead of guys with similar talents, such as Lamar Odom, Gerald Wallace and Shawn Marion.
4. Lamar Odom at No. 44: Too high, too low or just right?
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Just right for last season, too high for the coming season. Odom had a career season in 2010-11, but he's also a "Fluke Rule" player who is among the most likely in the league to see his numbers regress this season. Assuming, you know, there is one.
Brett Koremenos, HoopSpeak: Too high. Take away last season (and with it, his fluky 5 percent jump in TS% at age 31) and this isn't even debatable. His versatility on offense and his mobility and length on defense have been a tremendous help to the Lakers' success in recent years, but having a few more long jumpers go in during his most recent campaign shouldn't push him quite this high. Somewhere in the low 50s is probably a better spot for him.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Too low. Springboarding off the 2010 FIBA World Championships, Odom had the best season of his career in 2010-11, winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award in a well-deserved landslide. The lone blemish is that Odom, like many of his Lakers teammates, didn't play up to his standards in the playoffs when it came time to do so.
Danny Savitzky, Nets Are Scorching: Just right. Much like Smith, Odom has (or at least had) the potential to be much better. He can shoot from outside and manages to get to the rim despite a total inability to use his right hand. He rebounds well, and he can even run the point forward in a pinch. But Odom would be a superstar if he stopped chowing down on candy and put more time into developing a back-to-the-basket game.
Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom: Just right. Although the Lakers are getting older, Odom is in the perfect situation. He's not asked to carry the load, and because of that, I think he still has a few more years of solid productivity left in him.
5. David West at No. 45: Too high, too low or just right?
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Too low if we're looking backward, too high if we're looking forward. West was an East-Star last season (definition: any player who would have made the East All-Star team but didn't make it in the West because of stiffer competition), but he blew out his left knee at the end of the season and will have to prove he can regain his former level. The first season back, in particular, could be rocky.
Brett Koremenos, HoopSpeak: Just right. Pre-injury, "too low" is my answer. However, a 31-year-old PF still rehabbing a major knee injury scares me. He's been criminally underrated and insanely productive for some time now, but the medical issues West is facing mean this is the right spot until proves he can pick up where he left off.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Too low. West is coming off a career season, but one that ended prematurely after he tore his ACL in a game against the Utah Jazz. Injury aside, West is one of the best pick-and-pop players in the NBA -- with his teammate Chris Paul orchestrating the attack -- and he's a solid defender at his position.
Danny Savitzky, Nets Are Scorching: Too high. West was fantastic in the pick-and-pop with Chris Paul, but questions abound regarding how well he'll be able to bounce back after ACL surgery this offseason. Now 31 years old, West already has a lot of mileage on his legs, reducing the likelihood that he'll be able to cope with the recovery of his knee.
Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom: Too high. I've never been the biggest West fan because I think he benefits a great deal from playing with Chris Paul. Suffering a season-ending ACL injury should have hurt his ranking more, along with his age.
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