The first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs have been the most exciting opening round in recent memory. Aside from the Heat and Wizards (yes, the Washington Wizards won a playoff series) making quick work of the Bobcats and Bulls (respectively), the rest of the series have been pretty much up for grabs.
This year more than ever it seems overrated players are struggling, while smaller market studs have been vastly overlooked. Check out some of the most overrated and underrated NBA players in the 2014 Playoffs:
Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers
In game 5, Roy Hibbert’s stat line of 0 points, 0 rebounds, 1 block, 1 turnover, and 4 fouls garnered the 2-time All-Star much of the blame for the Pacers’ loss, putting Indiana on the brink of elimination. He followed that game up with a 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, and 4 fouls performance in game 6. Thankfully for Pacers fans, head coach Frank Vogel had the guts to bench his starting center for most of the game, allowing Indiana to force a pivotal game 7. A few weeks ago, this tweet got me thinking about just how overrated Hibbert is:
Kwame Brown 2003-04: “Bust” 10.9 – 7.4 – 1.5 – 48.9% FG Roy Hibbert 2013-14: “All-Star” 11.1 – 6.9 – 1.2 – 45.5% FG
— Joe (@NBATalkJoe) April 1, 2014
After watching the struggling center in this opening round series, it seems clear the big man just isn’t that good.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
The Houston Rockets were supposed to stomp the Portland Trail Blazers. This series was over before it even started, many thought. Enter LaMarcus Aldridge- bonafide STUD.
Aldridge opened the series with a 46 point performance, good for the all-time Trail Blazers playoff scoring mark. He followed it up in Game 2 with 43 points, the 3rd best all-time in Portland playoff history. While he’s cooled off a bit, the Blazers are 1 win away from the 2nd round and LaMarcus has arrived.
Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City
I know I’m going to catch some flak for this one, but hear me out. Kevin Durant is likely to be this year’s MVP due to his incredible scoring run while Russell Westbrook was out with injury. The way he was playing, the Thunder might be better off if someone went Nancy Kerrigan on Westbrook’s ass. When Rusty isn’t ball hogging and popping off 20 shot attempts a game, the Slim Reaper plays like an unstoppable force.
In the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, though, the Thunder find themselves tied 3-3 with the 7th seed Grizzlies. The “unguardable” Durant has seen his shooting percentages fall due to the stifling defense of veteran specialist Tony Allen. Kevin Durant is a great player. The 2nd best in the world infact. But he’s no MVP in my book. That crown goes on LeBron James’ head until someone pries it off his receding hairline.
James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets
James Harden is so terrible at defense that someone was able to compile an 11 and a half minute lowlight reel of his inabilities solely from the 2013-2014 season. If we dug deep, we could probably fill out an entire hour full of 5-10 second clips of James Harden getting burned off the ball. ESPN ranked the bearded guard 4th overall in their annual player rankings this season. I’m gonna go out on a limb and bet that ranking dips quite a bit next season.
Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors
At the beginning of the season, Toronto pointguard Kyle Lowry declared the Raptors “his team”, and pretty much the entire world had the same “yeah, whatever bruh” response. Lowry would go on to post career highs in points and assists during the regular season on his way to an impressive 3-2 lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Lowry’s ankle breaker on Deron Williams was no fluke- this 7 year veteran’s stock is on the rise.