Today’s NBA is much different than that of yesteryear, notably in terms of evaluating a player. Today we have deeply formulated analytic stats, as well as the ability to fine comb our way through any players’ career. With all these detailed ways to showcase how good or not good a players is, we still often see players become overrated.
There are many reasons why certain players are unjustly more respected, or more valued than others. Sometimes fans and media are attracted to a specific style of play and there is that one player who suits them perfectly. Or perhaps, the media and fans fall in love with a player’s personality, ultimately letting it bleed into their view of them as a player. Other times, a player is part of an amazing team or franchise, but for whatever reason, they receive the lion’s share of the credit. There are obviously many ways to gain unjust praise, and it happens all the time. It’s normal for biases to form about a player, but for this list, we will try to take the emotion out of everything.
So let’s get into who are they 15 most overrated players of the past 20 years.
15. DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is an interesting first entry. When DeAndre arrived in the NBA he was a second round pick by the Clippers. The plan was to have him spend a couple years on the bench learning from some of the older veteran post player on the team. However, injuries forced Jordan into action earlier than the team would have liked. As a rookie Jordan showed that he had potential to become a solid big man in the NBA.
As Jordan proved to be better than what many thought he could, the praise came heavy and often. It was like a race to be the first person to have heard of DeAndre Jordan. It hit an apex when in 2015 many people were calling DJ the best center in the NBA. DeAndre has become a good piece with the Clippers, and he has turned himself into one hell of a defender and a quality rebounder, but to anoint him the crown of best center is simply silly.
14. Harrison Barnes
The Golden State Warriors have been the league’s model franchise when it comes to drafting talent over the past decade. They have drafted Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes during that time. Players like Steph and Draymond make everyone around them better, just ask Kevin Durant.
Since the core four were selected by the Warriors, only Barnes has left the Bay in hopes of leading a team of his own. Barnes was signed to a max deal by the Mavericks last offseason, and he has proven to be quite underwhelming thus far, averaging just 20.1 points on 46% shooting. Barnes was clearly a product of his environment with the Warriors, but hey, he is sure cashing in on it. He probably doesn’t mind.
13. Rajon Rondo
I personally had a hard time putting some of players on this list, but I have to be fair and un-objective, and clearly Rondo is highly overrated. Rondo has made many incredible plays and he has some of the flashiest assists in NBA history, but there is a reason he can’t stay with a team longer than one season.
As a younger player Rajon was lucky enough to play with some of the best leaders in NBA history in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. So when he was with them, Rondo, for the most part, kept his mouth shut. Now that he is a vet in the league, he has no chill. He constantly gets on coaches, and teammates about whatever displeases him. He also is a stat chaser, and that is one of the worst things you can be in a team sport. Rondo has made a habit of passing up easy buckets in hopes of tallying an extra assist, or crashing the glass when his responsibility is to push the pace. Stats aren’t everything, sometimes it’s about making the right play for the team.
12. LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge has been a very consistent player during his ten plus seasons in the league. The thing about LaMarcus though, is that he is too consistent. He rarely takes games over, especially in postseason play. Having spent his first nine seasons in Portland, Aldridge always had quality players around him, yet he was never able to succeed in the playoffs.
There is a big emphasis on winning the big game when it comes to being a superstar in the league. Aldridge has yet to accomplish those big moment successes in his career. Now that he is with Coach Pop and the Spurs he could turn things around, but to this point he is a playoff failure. Having played with Brandon Roy in his early years, and having Damian Lillard more recently, there is no excuse for L.A. to not have at least one Conference Finals appearance under his belt.
11. Dwight Howard
Talk about having a million dollar body but a two cent head. Dwight Howard had all the gifts a person could ever ask for. He is a 6’11, 265 pound mountain of athleticism. In his prime, Howard may have had the highest vertical in the entire NBA, along with being the strongest player in the league too. What cost Howard his chance at reaching full potential was his inability to fit in with his teammates.
In only his third season, Dwight took his Orlando Magic squad all the way to the NBA Finals. It seemed clear that he was the future of NBA post play. Howard seemed to plateau after that magical season, and injuries began to become part of his game. In 2012 he left Orlando on less than ideal terms. But it seemed okay, because he was joining Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. But again, Howard was unable to get along with his teammates and skipped town after a couple seasons. Then the Rockets fell victim to the appeal of Dwight. The Rockets thought they had something special with Howard and Harden, but of course Superman didn’t stay in Houston long either.
10. Derek Fisher
A fitting way to get into the top ten would be a player who is overrated, even though he is probably viewed as a role player by many. Derek Fisher, however, is known by pretty much any basketball fan out there, but why is that?
Obviously that was somewhat of a rhetorical question, but Fisher is known for his single clutch shot against the Spurs back in 2004. He is also known for being Kobe Bryant’s favorite teammate, probably because Fish would always just throw the ball to Kobe and let him do his thing. One thing Fisher is hardly known for are his incredible skills. Because he didn’t have them! Fisher was the ultimate game manager at the point guard position. He did nothing flashy but he wouldn’t cost you the game either. That is no reason to be revered as one of the best point guards of the 2000s.
9. Derrick Rose
There was actually a time when many people would rather have Derrick Rose over LeBron James to start a franchise. In his third NBA season Derrick Rose was even named the league MVP over LeBron. Rose averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds on 44% shooting. Rose led the NBA in not a single statistical category. It seems clear now that the MVP voters were simply tired of awarding James the trophy, so they switched things up and gave it to the up and coming Rose.
Sadly for Rose, as expectations went sky high his body gave out on him. Derrick played with such a violent style that it seemed inevitable his body would someday give out on him, but nobody thought it would be at 25 years old. Rose was viewed as one of the league’s best before he was able to prove it. Once he returned from his multitude of injuries he has yet to return to form. Doing his best with the Knicks now, Rose has fallen to the bottom half of starting point guards in the NBA.
8. Blake Griffin
There are some things that you can never take away from Blake Griffin; that dunk on Timofey Mozgov is one of them. But Blake has been in the NBA for about eight years now, and he has proven to be a one trick pony. Blake has attempted to work on his jumpshot, and I guess if you compare it to his rookie year jumpshot it has improved, but he still lack consistency.
Since Chris Paul has joined Blake in L.A., the Clippers have been an extremely under performing, and therefore overrated team. With three players who routinely make the All-Star team ( Blake, CP3, and DeAndre Jordan) you would think that this team could at least make a Conference Finals series, however, in five tries they are yet to win two playoff series in the same year. A major chunk of that blame must land on the two superstars, Blake and Chris Paul.
7. Yao Ming
I feel bad putting the freshly minted Hall of Famer on blast like this but honestly the only reason Yao is inshrined is because they take globalization of the game into account. There is a lot to be said for what Yao was able to do when it comes to spreading the game internationally, but his skills on the court were highly overrated.
First of all his NBA career only lasted nine seasons. His eight All-Star appearances were largely assisted by the fact that fans voted in the All-Star starters. Yao was voted to start the All-Star game during a season in which he only played a handful of games due to injury. There is no denying that when he was healthy and on the court Yao was a dominant player. Shaquille O’Neal even said “If he didn’t have those injuries, he probably would be up there with the top five centers to ever play the game.” But he did have those injuries, and the world is not made of woulda and coulda.
6. Chris Paul
Chris Paul has been one of the most reliable players in the league over the past decade. Many people even say he is the best point guard in the NBA over that time frame, and he just might be, if you only included regular season. Some people even mention CP3 in the conversation for greatest point guard of all time, and that is simply ignorant.
CP3 has long been an overrated defender, as many Steph Curry highlights can show you. He also has been less than clutch in many playoff series. Paul has had other star players around him, so that excuse about not having any help does not fly here. If there were a regular season and a playoff roster I would love to have Paul run the show for 82 games, but once it comes down to best of seven, there are too many proven point guards out there to choose CP3 over them.
5. Carmelo Anthony
Melo is this generation’s Dominique Wilkins. There is no question that Carmelo Anthony has been one of the premier scorers in the NBA since his arrival in 2003. He has put together a scoring resume that rivals any who have ever laced em up, but there is so much more the the NBA game than scoring.
Anthony has been called out by players and coaches alike for his lack of enthusiasm when it comes to anything but scoring. He begrudgingly increased his rebounding numbers in the past few seasons, but there have been occasions when he decides it isn’t worth it. Carmelo will always be linked to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as they were all drafted in the same year, but the comparisons to those two legends pretty much ends there for Melo.
4. Steve Nash
Another one of those players I have a hard time including on this list, but again, the facts don’t lie. Nash was one of the funnest players ever to watch, and I can only imagine how much fun it would have been to be his teammate.
The things Nash did with that ball were supernatural, it often seemed he had eyes in the back of his head. But for all the flash he provided, he was never able to carry his team over the hump. While winning two league MVP awards, in back to back seasons, Nash was never even able to get his team into the NBA Finals. Furthermore, many basketball experts discredit his two MVP awards, saying they should have gone to LeBron James, or even Kobe Bryant. I do tend to agree that Nash was given those MVP awards thanks in part to the flair he brought to the game instead of simply looking at raw productivity. There has always been the blind eye turned to Nash’s defensive struggles as well. Remember, there are two ends of the basketball court.
3. Kevin Durant
It has become embarrassingly easy to knock Kevin Durant these days. He left his team and his best friend for the enemy. That alone undermines whatever legacy you hope to have as an NBA superstar, which KD was (and still is.)
KD has led the NBA is scoring four times, and won a league MVP, how could he be overrated right? Well let’s look at how he does in the clutch. In his only finals appearance he was beaten 4-1 by the Miami Heat. In the 2016 playoffs he saw his team lose a 3-1 series lead to the Golden State Warriors, who he signed with the following season. And his 4-18 career record against LeBron James is less than sorry. We now have over nine seasons to evaluate KD and it sure looks like he is a regular season kinda player. He is now part of the ultimate super team, and if they can’t get it done this year he could go down as one of the most overrated players of all time.
2. Steph Curry
Steph’s rise to glory was perhaps the fastest rise in NBA history. It only makes sense that in this generation of instant everything, Steph would skyrocket to GOAT status in only two years.
After winning back to back MVP awards, the NBA was Curry’s playground. He was already anointed as the new face of the league, and he seemingly ended LeBron James’ reign before its time. There were those stray critics out there who accused Steph as being a one trick pony, but they were quickly shot down by those enamored with the 30 foot three pointer. With Kevin Durant joining his side this season it is time to see what kind of basketball IQ and diversity Curry really has. Will he be able to share the court with another “super talent” or will they be each others’ kryptonite? They have done okay thus far, but time will reveal the truth about how overrated Steph really was.
1. Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba. I know this is blasphemy to some, but there is so much truth here. Many view Kobe as the second best player ever being Michael Jordan, many others view him a top 5 all time player.
Kobe was drafted out of high school, that alone means he was “rated” extremely high from the get go. When he entered the NBA he sputtered along for a while, taking four seasons before he reaching 20 points per game. The same amount of time it took Dwight Howard to get there. In comparison LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Tim Duncan all averaged over 20 in their rookie seasons.
Kobe fans love to point out his number of championship rings; all five of them. Having five rings is an incredible feat, especially considering he was one of the best players on all those championship teams, unlike players like Robert Horry and Derek Fisher. What those same fans fail to mention is that Kobe was the best player for only two of those championships, and that he was paired with the most dominant center since Wilt Chamberlain. What can be said about Kobe during that run with Shaq, is that he proved to be the best second option in NBA history.