Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now

In a recent article, Charley Rosen at Fox Sports identifies the most underrated role players in the league. I was curious to compare his list against our recent compilation of role players with the longest uninterrupted tenure on a single team. The only player who appears on both his list and mine is Jeff Foster; I actually expected to find more overlap. Surprisingly, many of the excellent role players whom Rosen (rightly) identifies as high-quality and unappreciated have bounced around from team to team: Raja Bell is now on his fifth team in nine seasons and Steve Blake has been employed five times in six seasons (although that includes two stints with Portland). I suppose it is true that even some MVP-caliber players, notably Chauncey Billups, need a few years to get their groove going, and while they are grooveless, teams may give up on them too quickly.

Rosen also mentioned Kendrick Perkins, Udonis Haslem, and Tayshaun Prince, non-all-stars who all have played 6+ seasons with their respective teams. I should have included these three guys on our original list, but perhaps an unconscious parameter in my original list was the exclusion of players who have helped their teams to a championship. That provides an obvious justification to keep them around, and obviates the need for clever explanation of their long tenure.

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