One of Bill Simmons’ best basketball observations was the presence of the Irrational Confidence Guy. This tends to be an offensive-minded player who overestimates his own abilities to put the ball in the bucket. This isn’t always a bad thing, however, as these players’ brash tendencies often allow them to lift their team out of an offensive funk.
With that said, let’s look at 10 players who epitomize the spirit of the Irrational Confidence Guy more than anyone else:
10. Jeremy Lin
This all comes down to Linsanity. These days, Lin is a quality backup point guard who can provide solid bench scoring, and once in awhile explode for 25-30 points. But what puts him on this list is those glorious three weeks in February 2012 where he broke through, and briefly seemed like the greatest player in the NBA. Undrafted out of Harvard, the only reason Lin is in the NBA now is because of that stretch with the Knicks. He raised his game to a ridiculously high level, forcing the establishment to acknowledge that he belonged here. Writing his post-Linsanity career off as a disappointment is missing the point. That Lin isn’t really as good as he looked during that run just makes it all the more impressive that he was able to play that well for as long as he did and secure his place in the league. I mean, that guy put up 38 against Kobe. That’s amazing!
9. Monta Ellis
Never the most efficient shooter — advanced stats *really* don’t like this guy — Ellis is nonetheless capable of scoring in bunches, averaging 25.4 points a game on the 2009-10 Warriors. In his last two seasons with the Mavericks, his game improved considerably, and he should be a relatively hot commodity as he hits free agency this summer. It would be interesting to see what would happen if a title contender picked up Monta and used him as a sixth man.
8. J.R. Smith
J.R. is about to play in his first Finals, and if he comes up with a few big shots, he could shoot his way up this list. Swish is generally the kind of guy who takes all the shots he wants no matter what. But on the Cavs, the presence of LeBron and Kyrie Irving has forced to him to rein in his shoot-first-ask-questions-later routine. Still, he’s the exact type of unconscious shooter the Cavs need to have a shot against the Splash Brothers. Look for J.R. to either help the Cavs win a few games, shoot them out of a few, or both.
7. Jamal Crawford
The only reason Crawford isn’t higher is because he’s never played in the Finals. After years of being stuck on perpetually doomed Knicks teams, Crawford really found his niche when the Hawks made him their sixth man in 2009-10. He averaged 18 points a game, and won his first of two Sixth Man of the Year Awards. While not terribly efficient, Crawford is a relentlessly confident shooter, who will take big shot after big shot, and make a lot of them, including some that have absolutely no business going in the basket. Crawford is a free agent after this season, and it’ll be interesting to see if he re-ups with the Clippers. The current Clippers crop has the potential to make a Finals, and that could give Crawford a chance to solidify his legacy as an all-time Irrational Confidence Guy.