Top 5 overachieving players and the Top 5 underacheiving players

Every NBA season brings us a new list of players who have a breakout season. With these breakout seasons also come players who don't live up to expectations. This is part 1 of 2 of the Top 5 overachieving players and the Top 5 underachieving players. Here is my list for the Top 5 overachievers.

1. Devin Harris: He might not be the best player to put at the top of this list just because New Jersey had high expectations of him. When the Jason Kidd trade went down that sent Harris to New Jersey, Harris was labeled by that vague term, 'prospect'. Usually players labeled by that term take a few years to develop, if ever. We all know that Harris was a college standout at Wisconsin and he won Big 10 player of the year honors, but his start in the NBA was a little rough. The expectation from Harris was always absurdly high being the 5th pick in the draft. His first season in 04-05 he averaged 5.7 ppg and 2.2 assists. He increased that average every year up until midway through the 07-08 season to 14.4 pts and 5.3 assists when he got traded. The second half of that season playing for the Nets, he saw a 1 point increase in his point total to 15.4 and increased his assists to 6.5.
This season, Harris is averaging an astonishing 24.8 points and 6.1 assists and is the 6th leading scorer in the league right now, and is shooting a solid 48% from the field. That is about an 11 ppg jump from his average in the 07-08 season. His play has elevated his team all around him, and the Nets are enjoying a 9-8 record and 2nd in the Atlantic division, only behind Boston, and 4th place in the Eastern Conference. I don't think anyone had New Jersey higher than 7th place this season, and that was even a stretch. They have been the surprise team, and it is all due to Devin Harris. We'll see if they can keep this up.

2. Danny Granger: Another player who broke onto the scene last season. Granger probably isn't known outside of Indiana and to the casual basketball fan. He was not highly regarded out of college because he played in a small conference for the up and down New Mexico program. Granger is the 7th leading scorer in the league who is also hitting 2.8 3's a game. He is a combo player who can play virtually anywhere on the floor, and has such a wide range of skills, he is a matchup nightmare for other teams. Granger's play has led the Pacers over the wins over the Lakers and the Celtics this season. The Pacers have been playing up to their competition this year, and have shown they can win. I expect that Granger will keep this level of play up for the rest of the season, but I don't expect the Pacers to do much more than they have been doing. I expect them not to make the playoffs and finish last in the Central Division. They do have great pieces in Granger, Daniels, and if Dunleavy can come back healthy, Larry Bird might have a strong squad up there.

OJ Mayo: He might be playing on one of the worst teams in the league (4-14), but Mayo is playing out of his mind. He has shown an incredibly maturity coming into the NBA and putting him alongside Rudy Gay has only helped him. The scary thing about Mayo is that he is only a rookie, and will only get better. From what I've heard, this guy is a work horse. He is a gym rat, and obsessed with his game. I've heard scouts say he has the 'it' factor that MJ, Kobe, and Lebron posess. Marc Gasol is still a little raw at this point, but when Marc Gasol gets better, we could be looking at a very respectable team with Gasol, Gay, and Mayo. Mayo has averaged 21.3ppg this season, 13th best in the league, and only .2 away from #12 Dwight Howard. The reason Mayo makes this list is due to the difficulty guards have adjusting to the NBA game. He gets a steal or two a game and dishes out a few assists every game and his one or two 3's every game. He can get to the basket, create his own shot, pass, and is a superior athlete. He has shown maturity in the game ahead of his years. We could be looking at the rise of one of the best guards in the league.

Nene: His emotional comeback from winning his battle with cancer might have inspired his play this year. He is a huge part of the Nuggets success and a clear third option for the team. Nene is averaging 15 pts, 7.3 rebs and 1.6 blocks, all of those are his best career averages. Oh yeah, he also has the highest field goal percentage in the league shooting a staggering 63.2%. When people talk about the elite Centers in the league, people seldom mention Nene. He has come onto the scene this year, and this is a pleasant surprise for George Karl because this could help the Nuggets get past the first round, and be exactly what they need to get further in the playoffs. The Nuggets are looking like a more mature team overall this year, and that is due, in part, to Nene's play.

Ramon Sessions: I would expect that hardcore NBA fans have been following Sessions for a while. For those of you who don't know, he is a D-League call-up, and he has played sensational for the Bucks. He played about 17 games last season for the Bucks, and averaged a little over 11 assists per game in that time. He is going to stick around in the big leagues for a while. He is averaging 14.9 pts and 6 assists this season. He is coming up huge for the Bucks, and they have to like their investment. Sessions is also a great value for them because he is a solid backup for Luke Ridnour, I use the term 'backup' loosely here because he plays 32.9 minutes a game, and started when Ridnour was out. He is also great value for the Bucks in terms of salary. He is the lowest paid player on the Bucks at $722,517, and is the 3rd highest scorer on the team, and plays more minutes than the $70 million dollar Center, Andrew Bogut. He is worth much more than he gets paid, and the Bucks better use him to his full extent before he becomes a free agent because there will not be a shortage of potential teams looking to invest in Sessions.

Top 5 underachievers soon to come...


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