by Ron Chambers
As a #4 pick Al Herbert is the highest drafted player on the Brooklyn Rage. The Rage paid a big price for him trading away to Andorra Joe Siebert who is the second all-time shot blocker and all-time rebounding leader in the WBA. The Rage had high hopes that Herbert would become an elite center like his predecessor. But, public opinion seems to consider Herbert as much less than that. Maybe it is because they haven’t won a cchampionship with him yet. Maybe it is because he doesn’t lead the league in rebounding or shot blocks like Siebert did in his prime.
The question though is if public opinion and reality are the same. Ellis Law, Pat Stephenson, Jay Vasquez, Jarrod Roe, Lou Gonzales, John Van Horne, Jose Nobis, Simeon Hill, Sheldon Gorman, Wally Birkhead, and Tyriq Lang are all generally considered better centers than Herbert. Law is the only center averaging over 20 points. Hill leads the league in rebounds and Birkhead is also averaging over 10. Gonzo once again leads the league in blocks. And, Pat Stephenson is second is both scoring and blocks among centers and third in rebounding.
This all seems pretty cut and dry that Herbert is a level below. But, wait a second. Herbert is #5 in scoring among centers. He is #4 in rebounds. He leads all centers in both assists and steals. And in blocks he is #9. That means that he is in the top 10 in all major statistical categories. Heck if you expand that out to the top 20 there are only four how make that list. Add to that that he controls his fouls to only 2.0 a game… he is 32nd on that list which means he does better than some bench players in keeping his fouls down even though he plays they second most minutes of any center. All this adds up to a center who s quietly and elite center. He doesn’t get the big numbers, though he is only 25 so that may change in some areas, but he is good at just about everything and he makes his team better, he is second amond all centers in the highly touted +/- rating.
What makes Rage management most happy though is that Herbert is #3 among starting centers for defensive efficiency. The Rage like a defensive center. The previous generation built aroung Siebert showed that. But, Herbert is a different kind of player. He isn’t the bruser. He takes more three pointers than any center. He doesn’t like to pound inside on the offensive side. But, he fights for rebounds and blocks and steals with the best of them.