We all like new things. Planned obsolescence has us wired to believe that new is better than old. When it comes to comparing NBA players, potential seems to pique the interests of fans and analysts alike. But potential has never scored a point, made an assist, or grabbed a rebound. Potential has never won a game, or even come close for that matter. With all that being said, I get it. Fans of struggling teams look for hope of a brighter future. Basketball enthusiasts are always looking for the next big thing. But sometimes we forget what we have when we catch a glimpse of what we might see later.
Every day I hear statements like “Kyrie Irving is a Top 5 point-guard in the NBA!” or “Kevin Love is the best power-forward in the league!” I see these statements and all I can say is “not yet.” As talented as Kyrie is, he still has to learn how to win. There are too many great point-guards in the NBA today for him to just assume that he’s one of the best, despite his defensive deficiencies and poor record. At the end of the day, basketball, like any sport comes down to wins and losses. Kevin Love is a fantasy basketball manager’s dream when he’s healthy. With all that being said, he is still yet to experience 1 second of playoff-action. Let’s let the stars of the future develop while we appreciate the stars of the present. When we evaluate players, we analyze what they have done and what they have shown the capability to do so far. Potential can’t be a part of this equation. For instance, I believe that Paul George has superstar potential. That is very different from calling him a superstar. He still has a long way to go as far as his development is concerned before he can be mentioned among the guys who carry a team.
None of us are fortune-tellers (I think), so it’s foolish to overrate a player simply because player A is young. Remember, you aren’t the best until you beat the best. You can’t be compared to the best until you compete against the best, especially on the biggest stage (the playoffs). You certainly aren’t among the best until you can at least win in the regular season (Am I setting the bar too high?).
Let’s stop anointing new kings when the old kings are still on the throne. 37-year old Tim Duncan just carried his team to within seconds of an NBA Championship. 32-year old Zach Randolph dominated Blake Griffin in the 1st Round of the playoffs. 38-year old Ray Allen made what could be the biggest shot of his career in the NBA Finals. These old dogs may not have new tricks, but their old tricks still get the job done.