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Brand Labeled Most Underrated

Times Staff Writer

A new book makes a case for Elton Brand as the NBA’s most underrated player.

In “Pro Basketball Forecast: 2004-05 Edition,” author John Hollinger reveals that only five players last season had a higher player efficiency rating than Brand: Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Player efficiency ratings, as defined by Hollinger, are determined by pulling together a variety of statistical data to generate a single rating.

“A lot of observers don’t regard Brand as a big star because his advantages are subtle -- he shoots a high percentage, takes huge quantities of foul shots, is an underrated passer and gets a lot of rebounds,” Hollinger wrote. “Also, he tends to get his points in an unspectacular fashion -- jump hooks, short jump shots and putbacks.

“While he’s not great in any single category, Brand is well above average in nearly everything, which is another subtlety lost on many observers. As a result, he might be the least spectacular star player in basketball, even more so than Tim Duncan.

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“Brand does have a few shortcomings -- longer players bother him in the post because he’s only 6 foot 8, and he doesn’t make the defensive impact of some other superstars. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the most productive players in the league....

“It’s unfortunate that he’s played his entire career for forlorn franchises, but whether the media chooses to acknowledge it or not, Brand is a superstar.”

Brand’s teammate, Corey Maggette, was ranked fourth among small forwards, behind McGrady, Peja Stojakovic and Antawn Jamison.

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The Clippers still have no timetable for Kerry Kittles’ return.

“I’m hoping that it’s ... this month,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said, “but I don’t have a crystal ball on it. It’s really going to depend on his body.”

Kittles, acquired in a July trade with the New Jersey Nets, has not practiced with his new teammates, his sore right knee having limited his activity since arthroscopic surgery to clear out scar tissue in June.

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Trajan Langdon, released last week by the Clippers, signed with the Long Beach Jam of the American Basketball Assn.


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