As I said in my previous posting, I think that, when we compare two players to each other, we often use criteria that are too limited.

Before really getting into the discussion about how to compare players, I think it makes sense to frame the discussion.

As I see it, there are 4 tiers of players in the NBA. For lack of better descriptions, I call them:
1. The Superstars
2. The Stars
3. The Guys Who Are Above Average , and
4. The Average / Below Average Guys.

These labels, I acknowledge, are not particularly creative. But I think they do the trick.

As for the Superstars,by definition, there can only a handful in the league at a time. 10 or fewer. In today’s game, the group is Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Carmelo, and possibly Dwight Howard, Dirk, and CP3 (as of two years ago, Tim Duncan was unquestionably among the superstars).

The Stars is a larger group than the Superstars, but still very small. At any moment, it includes 10-15 guys. In today’s game, it includes, among others, KG, Pierce, Joe Johnson, Brandon Roy, Chauncey, Duncan, Parker, and Nash.

The Guys Who Are Above Average is a much larger group. It includes guys who would make an average team better by about 5-10 wins per year. This group includes some guys who are solid all-around players, but not spectacular (See: Shane Battier and, come to think of it, just about all of his teammates on the Rockets), and it includes some role players who are so good at what they do that they bring their team a few extra wins per year (See: The Birdman and Joakim Noah).

It’s very important to identify guys in this group correctly. If a team mistakes one of them for a star, it could sign one of them to be a team leader, and then wind up with a mediocre team. (See: Toronto Raptors / Hedo Turkoglu; Detroit Pistons / Ben Gordon; Golden State Warriors / Corey Maggette). But, if you wind up with one of these guys as your third or fourth best player, you could be an excellent team. (See: Los Angeles Lakers / Lamar Odom; Orlando Magic / Rashard Lewis).

Then there are the average / below average guys. These guys constitute about 50-60 percent of the guys in the league. They run the gamut from, on one hand, guys who have trouble hanging onto a roster spot, to, on the other hand, guys who can play 12-24 minutes per game for a quality team. (See: The New York Knicks, aside from David Lee, who cover the spectrum from guys who barely belong in the league to guys who shouldn’t be playing more than 24 minutes on any team that is really trying to be good.)

The next posting, coming shortly, will discuss measurements to use to determine which category a player belongs in.

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