He demands respect and gets it, demands discipline and gets it, demands effort and gets it. Even though the Blazers’ blueprint has been devastated by the injuries to Greg Oden, McMillan has kept the team surprisingly competitive. As much as any of his peers, McMillan gets the most out of his guys, and his handling of matchups gives them a chance to win virtually every game — two characteristics of an outstanding coach in any sport.
Also see:Charley Rosen's All-Overrated Team
See, Charley doesn't think everyone's overrated
These are the guys who operate under the media’s radar. They don’t put up spectacular numbers and are seldom seen on highlight shows, yet they still have an enormous impact on their respective team’s destinies. If they’re not franchise players who are capable of transforming losing or mediocre teams into champions, they have the stuff to turn also-rans into serious contenders. The following constitutes a team of players who never take a game off, whom coaches love to coach, and with whom other players love to play. -- Charley RosenAlso see: Charley Rosen's All-Overrated Team
Point guard: Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers
He's slow and can’t defend screen/rolls, but is very tough and plays terrific position defense — as demonstrated by the inordinate number of charges he draws. At the other end of the game, he rarely takes the ball to the rim, but he seems to knock down every clutch shot (and isn’t afraid to take them), and flawlessly executes the triangle offense. Equally as important as anything he does on the court, Fisher is a leader in the locker room.
BACKUP: Raymond Felton (Knicks) can run a screen/roll offense with just about anybody and has become a better finisher and 3-point shooter. His defense is both aggressive and fearless. He’ll never be a superstar, but watch how much of a positive influence he’ll have on the Knicks.
Shooting guard: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
When healthy, he's one of the very best in the NBA at this position. He can shoot, scoot and get to the hoop. He makes up for his less-than-average mano-a-mano defense by expertly playing passing lanes. The guy’s a winner. Ginobili’s only problems are that he can’t play at less than 100 percent and isn’t afraid to challenge the biggest bigs, which makes him especially vulnerable to injuries.
BACKUP: Raja Bell (Jazz) can hit 3s and defend like a demon, so he'll help Utah if/when he ever regains his health. He also has a nasty streak that testifies to his competitive nature.
Small forward: Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns
He defends, hits treys and can run with the rest of his Phoenix teammates. He also averages a rebound for every 5.8 minutes he plays, which is very good for a small forward. His handle is rapidly improving as is his court vision. More and more, Dudley has become a game-changer off the bench. Give him another two years and he’ll be an All-Star caliber performer.
BACKUP: Anthony Parker is an aggressive defender, an unselfish player and a deadly 3-point shooter, who can also nail step-back and turn-around jumpers. He never was integrated into Cleveland’s LeBron-centric offense.
Power forward: Carl Landry, Sacramento Kings
He can do it all on offense, scoring from near and far, with a specialty in point-making in the low post. Landry is a tiger on the offensive boards as well as being as swift up and down the court as a gazelle. All right, so he isn’t a super-duper long-range bomber, and his defense is just OK. But Landry has the tools to become a 20-ppg scorer and a perennial All-Star. Every GM in the league would give his eyeteeth to have him.
BACKUP: Nick Collison makes up for his relative lack of talent by playing extra hard on every play, which encourages his teammates to do the same. He can even hit an occasional jumper.
Center: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
He doesn’t need the ball to have a major influence on any given game. He steadily converts his one-and-a-half-handed free throws, rarely hoists a shot he’s incapable of making and plays exceptional defense. More importantly, he averages a rebound every 3.0 minutes — compare this to Dwight Howard, the league’s rebound leader, who grabs one every 2.8 minutes. Noah’s passing needs to become more adept but, overall, he’s one of the NBA’s best role players.
BACKUP: Nene scored 13.8 ppg last season even though he took only 8.7 shots per game. He rebounds, plays bully-boy defense and shoots an incredibly high field-goal percentage. If Nene were more of a featured player, he’d easily tally 20-plus points.