Who's Overrated and Who's Underrated
This week I'm interested in players, teams, or practices that are overrated or underrated. You'll understand why I chose these four subjects as you read on.
Toronto Raptors are Overrated
The Raptors are an NBA team. By that I mean they have two stars and a lot of role players. Neither of their stars is going to carry them past Cleveland. The Eastern Conference is weak so the Raptors could sneak past a number of teams that resemble them.
Demar Derozan is having a very good season. Kyle Lowry is a wonderful player who is fun to watch. Bismarck Biyombo proved that he can score almost seven points per game when he filled in for Jonas Valanciunas when he was injured for 18 games.
So the Raptors are playoff bound in the sad East but they won't go far.
Most likely in my opinion is that the Raptors will stumble in the first round against one of the young developing teams. If Toronto plays Boston in the first round, they'll have two home games and then they'll go home.
Corey Crawford is Underrated
I can't believe that Corey Crawford continues to get such little respect in the press and in the blogosphere. Even in Chicago people can't appreciate what he brings to the Blackhawks.
Corey Crawford sees through screens better than any goalie in the league. He has always been excellent at using his pads and covering the five hole whilst still being able to spread out for a blocker save.
The biggest rap against Crawford has always been that he is weak on the glove side. If that was ever the case it no longer is. He makes great glove saves every night.
The Blackhawks are the least physical team in the league. They still play a finesse game even with all the new players they have to integrate into the veteran lineup after every Stanley Cup Championship. And who was in goal when they won the last two times? Why ol' Corey Crawford.
I suspect that Corey Crawford may very well be the most under-rated player in professional sports.
Changing Coaches is Overrated
I don't have statistics but my gut tells me that changing coaches does not compensate for not having a good team on the bench. The Cavaliers fired David Blatt and replaced him with Tyronn Lue. The team is all praises for the new coach but some strange things seem to be afoot.
The Cavs free throw shooting is dramnatically better. Lebron seems to go out of his way to emphasize the degree to which the playres are trying to play the way the new coach wants them to play. Their offence has a faster pace. What will happen when the emphasis on offence costs games because of deficiencies on defence.
Now, Lue may change the Cavaliers' approach on offense. He might make them more fun to watch. But the weaknesses the Cavaliers had before the change won't go away. The team is not all on the same page every night. They aren't on the same page every possession.
The Chicago Bears fired Lovie Smith and brought in Marc Trestman, a quarterback's dream, as head coach. Under Trestman Jay Cutler regressed. Now they have a new coach in John Fox whose magical touch led the Bears to a 6-10 record this year. When the Bears have better players, John Fox will once again be a genius.
Every year many teams fire the coach or manger but little changes until they get better players and learn to play as a team within a definable system.
Scouting and Player Evaluation are Underrated
How is it that some teams never get full value from their high draft picks and other teams can seamlessly move middle and late-round draft picks into the lineup?
Lorenzo Cain is now recognized as one of the best players in the league but he was drafted in the 17th round by Milwaukee which gave up on him just in time for him to blossom into a star.
Basketball is a bit different because in few years can a second-round pick have a major impact on a team. But some teams have second round picksâ€”Draymond Green, Isaiah Thomas, Marc Gasol and, of course, Manu Ginobili come quickly to mindâ€” who develop and some teams never do. I suspect that a player's willingness to learn has a lot to do with the success or failure of many teams' draft picks.
Is teachability one of the prime considerations when most teams draft? It should rank at least as high as raw athletic talent. Very few players come into the league, any league, and are stars from the outset. Ask Johnny Manziel.
The Cubs are Overrated
This doesn't mean that the Cubs won't win the World Series. I think they will. I'm simply not willing to concede the crown to the Cubbies before a single pitch has been thrown.
The Cubs will struggle at times. They will lose a few in a row. The pitchers will have poor starts all at the same time and the batters will go into a collective slump. The Cubs have the perfect manger for a young team to overcome their struggles which they will do. They simply aren't going to win 120 games this year. Maybe 110.
Baseball is also the most difficult team sport because the best hitters only get four or five chances to help their team each game. The best defensive players may go a game with few chances, none difficult. In basketball, hockey, and football the skilled players get dozens of chances to score or assist on a score.
So, to crown the Cubs champs this early is simply ridiculous. Even if they are the clear favourite to win it all!