NetBeans 8 (and earlier) has an important debugging feature hidden away: Show a variable’s value as rendered by its own toString method.
You can expose an additional column for this value in the debugger’s Variables pane. Notice the orange splotch icon tucked away by itself in the upper-right corner. Click that icon to present a Change Visible Columns dialog. Check the checkbox labeled String Value: String representation of the value.
Of course this feature requires safe-and-sane implementations of toString method on exposed objects. The risk of misbehaved implementations is presumably the reason this column is not exposed by default.