Group G: "You'll Have To Bowl Us Over"
32. Larry Hughes – Everyone keeps talking about Redd and Allen this summer – why doesn't anyone mention Hughes? He's only 26, gives you a 22-6-5 every night, plays three positions, defends well enough that he made the 2005 All-Defensive team, never does anything beyond his means, and he even supplants Troy O'Leary as the "best black athlete with a name that makes him sound like he should be bouncing at Sully's Pub." Other than some durability issues, what am I missing here?

31. Richard Jefferson – I can't shake that putrid 2004 Olympics performance out of my head. He's making $83 million through 2010? Really? You're telling me the Nets will feel good about that one in three years?

(Another wrinkle: It's impossible to judge someone properly when they're playing with a guy who makes everyone else better. For instance, BJ Armstrong, Luc Longley, Horace Grant, Steve Kerr and Scott Williams all looked better than they actually were during their time with MJ (just ask the teams that overpaid them). Same for Byron Scott, A.C. Green, Kurt Rambis and Michael Cooper with Magic, or Danny Ainge, Cedric Maxwell and Gerald Henderson with Bird. And even though J-Kidd isn't in the same class as those guys, he inflated the values of Kerry Kittles, Todd MacCullough, Aaron Williams, Keith Van Horn, Lucious Harris and Kenyon Martin from 2001-2003. There's a decent chance we could be including Jefferson in that group some day. You've been warned.)

30. Ron Artest – Only 25 years old, one of the best all-around players in the league, a talented rapper and lyricist, and if that's not enough, the odds of him instigating another melee during an NBA game have to be at least 100-to-1. The fact that Larry Legend kept him during last February's trade deadline when they clearly could have moved him for point guard help – that tells me something. Whether that something is "Ron Artest must be really good" or "Larry Legend must be really crazy" remains to be seen.

(Ducking lightning bolt.)

29. Elton Brand – In Year One of the "Bill Simmons as Clippers season-ticket holder" Era, I watched E.B. up close and personal for an entire season. Here's what you get: A reliable rebounder and surprisingly good shot blocker; a hard worker who never takes a night off; a deadly shooter from 15-to-18 feet if he's open; and absolutely, positively, unequivocally, no low-post moves whatsover. He's one of those guys where you look up at the scoreboard and say, "Wow, Elton has 24 points? How did that happen?" Still, the Clippers can't trade him because he's one of the few blue-chippers out there who don't mind playing for them. In fact, that's how they should start his profile in the 2005-06 Clippers media guide: "One of the few stars in the league who doesn't mind playing for us!"

28. Richard Hamilton – I'm down with the Reggie Miller analogy here, right down to the goofy looks. Although Reggie was a little more valuable because he could shoot 3s. Then again, Reggie never won a ring.

Continued...


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