The NBA is all about the star players and as they are more pivotal to basketball than any other sport. Football and baseball needs a full team of great players doing different things to become a championship level contender. That is also needed in the NBA but to a far smaller extent. A few top Superstars and a nice supporting cast of role players usually make up a roster of the best teams in the league. The elite teams all have multiple All-Star caliber talents and usually an MVP candidate. Stars have started to unite in recent years to improve their chances at a ring.
Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors has made them the absolute definition of a super team. The Cleveland Cavaliers still have a trio of top names to defend their NBA Championship. Superstars care about winning rather than location and will do anything possible to get a ring in the modern day NBA. The window is open for a short time period for a star to put forth their best years. While many have united in hopes of winning the big one, a few stars are still floundering in less desirable situations. Every team needs star power to improve but it is unfortunate to see the talents go to waste. We’ll look at those stories now with the top fifteen current NBA stars too good for their teams.
15 Dwyane Wade
The most recent story of a Superstar deciding to leave his beloved franchise featured Dwyane Wade packing his bags out of Miami to head to Chicago. Wade will play in his hometown after making the big move away from the Heat organization that drafted him thirteen years ago. The move was done for pride reasons wanting to get paid what he felt he was deserved but it was a bad basketball decision.
The Bulls don’t have the talent to contend and will likely be a first-round elimination with the best case scenario of losing in the second round of the playoffs. Wade has maybe one or two seasons left to perform at a high level and he will be wasting them away in Chicago. The team needs to make another drastic move to have any chances at taking steps forward with their new Superstar. A legendary player heading to his home town is always a fun story but we’ll all want him traded by midseason to a better team.
14 D’Angelo Russell
Everyone has an opinion on D’Angelo Russell. His rookie season went horribly due to him making the fatal error of recording teammate Nick Young admitting to cheating on fiancé Iggy Azelea and uploading it on Snapchat. Russell was shunned by his Los Angeles Lakers teammates and became an outcast in the locker room. His overall numbers were fine for a rookie season and he actually did show signs of the potential that made him the second overall pick.
The culture of the Lakers franchise devolving into disarray helped create the issues that surrounded Russell. It will take a lot for his teammates to trust him again and that will hurt his growth as he enters a very important second year in the league. Russell has all of the tools to become a future All-Star caliber player in the NBA but the Lakers are weighing him down and he would be better off elsewhere at this point.
13 Nikola Vucevic
The Orlando Magic have struggled for years after rebuilding in the post-Dwight Howard era but are hoping next season will mark their return to the postseason. Nikola Vucevic appeared to be the center of the future putting up impressive numbers each season in Orlando. A bizarre offseason saw the Magic acquire Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo to add into the mix of the front court. Factor in Aaron Gordon and Vucevic will now have to battle for minutes and touches in the paint.
Orlando clearly doesn’t have faith in Vucevic to become a Superstar despite the numbers backing up his claims of progression. He is too good for the mediocre franchise and could actually improve into All-Star territory if he was placed on a better team. The Magic may look to trade Vucevic with their new talent coming over next season and he should be begging his agent to help them get it done.
12 Eric Bledsoe
The Phoenix Suns are in disarray, failing to put together a credible team. They are very far away from making the playoffs and will need a few draft picks to pan out before they can once again compete in the West. Eric Bledsoe is the best player on the team and all of the pressure falls on his shoulders due to the lack of talent around him.
His defense is a strong suit, but he is selective when he plays to the best of his ability. You can’t blame him with the Suns being among the worst teams in the NBA. Bledsoe was on pace to set a career high in points per game averaging 20.4 before suffering a season-ending injury. Terrible teams need talented players to help turn it around and bring fans into the arenas, but you can’t help but feel bad watching it go to waste. Bledsoe belongs in the backcourt of a playoff team to show just how special of an athlete he is.
11 Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert has only been in the NBA for three seasons but he’s already one of the best defensive big men. The paint presence stops opposing stars from driving in the lane for an easy basket, as they know Gobert will be there to prevent them from scoring in embarrassing fashion. With over two blocks per game in each of the past two seasons, the French native has created a reputation for himself at a young age of 24.
Utah views Gobert as their center of the future and he is someone they should desperately try to keep as long as possible. His scoring game is a glaring flaw that needs to be improved for him to become a complete player on both sides of the court, but he is worth waiting on offensively. Gobert will unfortunately continue to fly under the radar and he will not be a name most casual fans know due to the Jazz being such an irrelevant franchise these days.
10 John Wall
The Washington Wizards have regressed dramatically over the past season, falling from a potential Eastern Conference contender into a team that didn’t even make the playoffs. John Wall doesn’t deserve any of the blame as he continues to improve every season and is one of the best point guards in the sport. Washington got it right by selecting him first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft and he has rewarded them for their pick.
The problem is Washington has done a poor job building a competitive team around him and he has to carry the majority of the workload. Bradley Beal is a nice complimentary piece but Wall will need a much bigger sidekick to truly get the momentum going for the Wizards. The top stars in the league are all migrating to legitimate contenders and Wall should be next. His talent is up there with almost anyone in the NBA and he deserves a better team to help showcase that.
9 Brook Lopez
In just a matter of seasons, the Brooklyn Nets have gone from considering themselves contenders for the NBA Championship to one of the worst teams in the league. The experiment of bringing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn absolutely failed and left them without any young assets. Brook Lopez has remained the one consistent source of production on the team from their days in New Jersey.
The big man has a career average of 18.3 points per game on 51.1% shooting from the field and has one All-Star appearance. Lopez deserves a better opportunity to play for a contender and add his consistent scoring game to the betterment of the NBA landscape. The Nets are a long way away from contending. It may be beneficial both ways for Lopez to get dealt to a better roster and give Brooklyn more cap space to sign younger talent. 2016-2017 will be a fascinating year for Lopez and he could be heading to a new team.
8 Kristaps Porzingis
The New York Knicks finally found some good luck in the 2015 NBA Draft with the selection of Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick. Porzingis achieved instant popularity as a fan favorite in New York and showed potential of becoming a future Superstar. The Knicks once again proved to be one of the worst run franchises in the NBA putting less emphasis on the rookie as the season went on, despite not contending for a playoff spot.
The recent moves of trading for Derrick Rose and signing Joakim Noah seem like they would help Porzingis on paper, but they really won’t. Two dominant offensive stars in the league like Rose and Carmelo Anthony will dominate the ball and it will lead to fewer touches for Porzingis. Phil Jackson proved how out of touch he was by moving for two former stars that are shells of their former reputations. Porzingis will be the one to suffer in the near future and is way too good for a short-sighted Knicks franchise.
7 Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward is one of the most underrated players in the league at the small forward position and most NBA fans forget he even exists thanks to being on the subpar Utah Jazz. The young man does it all from scoring effectively from all over the court to making the best pass to an open teammate. Hayward even contributes on the defensive end and would break out as a star if he were on a team with a higher profile or a better roster.
Utah will likely never get Hayward to his ultimate potential and he’ll continue to be an afterthought until hitting the free agent market. Fans never care about players on smaller market teams who are out of contention, unless they become available for the taking. Hayward deserves better and we can only hope he gets to spotlight his talents on a bigger stage at some point in his prime.
6 Jimmy Butler
The Chicago Bulls made the right move by dealing Derrick Rose and keeping Jimmy Butler. The fact that they even considered moving Butler at all showed just how foolish of a franchise they have become. Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league and a definite Superstar in the making. His offensive game improved to an All-Star level this past season and he’s already one of the best defenders in the NBA.
Butler is only 26 years old and will only get better. His responsibility growing will manage to get the best out of the budding star. Unfortunately, the Bulls don’t have any clue what they are doing and show a lack of confidence in Butler. Most players of his talent level get treated like kings but Butler is criticized by the coach and put on the trade block. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo coming to Chicago may just hinder the development of Butler and he would thrive greater on a better team.
5 Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant’s shocking decision to join the Golden State Warriors and Serge Ibaka being traded has left Russell Westbrook all alone in Oklahoma City. There’s enough talent around him to make the playoffs, but there’s way they’ll be able to contend any time soon unless they can acquire another Superstar to pair with him. Westbrook has developed into one of the best players in the league dominating the point guard position.
Oklahoma City is usually intelligent about knowing what moves needs to be made and Westbrook could be dealt next season. As a free agent in the 2017 offseason, Westbrook is not going to want to go back to getting eliminated in the first round after having championship hopes for years. The harsh truth is he deserves to move on and the current team isn’t good enough to truly showcase his greatness. Westbrook has all the tools to win an MVP Award in the next few seasons but it can’t be on the Thunder at this point.
4 Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Milwaukee Bucks expected Jabari Parker to become the face of the franchise and their next big Superstar. While he can still put become close to it if he reaches his potential, there’s no doubt Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player in Milwaukee right now. The nearly seven-foot-tall Greek athletic beast has the speed and basketball instincts of a point guard. Head coach Jason Kidd expects him to play the position next season and should see his numbers become even more impressive.
Antetokounmpo would be on the verge of the Superstar label in New York or Los Angeles but a large percentage of casual NBA fans aren’t even aware of him. The Bucks just don’t have the outreach to make him as big a star as he deserves unless they can become a contender. Antetokounmpo is too good to flounder in an environment of mediocrity. The sky is the limit for The Greek Freak, but Milwaukee just lowers his ceiling.
3 Anthony Davis
Anyone with an eye for talent can see Anthony Davis has the skills to become the best player in the league. There’s nothing he can’t do. Davis scores in the most efficient of ways, dominates defensively and grabs every loose board. The New Orleans Pelicans locked him up with a massive contract to make him their star of the future after grabbing him with the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
The Pelicans have done a terrible job of adding pieces to supplement his elite game. Davis needs more help than the likes of Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik. All of the top teams in the West are getting deeper and New Orleans just loses firepower. The lack of commitment to going all in has them looking unworthy of having a Superstar like Davis. Injury issues have limited him in helping them take steps forward last season but Davis deserves the best support system and the Pelicans already seem hesitant to provide that.
2 Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has been one of the most popular names in the NBA since arriving in 2003. The scoring machine puts up points with utter ease and is a fixture on the All-Star team at this point, winning the starting position via fan vote most years. Anthony has donned the New York Knicks uniform for the past few seasons but the majority of his time there has been wasted.
The Knicks went from hoping to contend for a title with Anthony and Amare Stoudemire into one of the worst teams in the NBA. ‘Melo is wasting the final years of his prime on a dud of a team and the recent acquisitions won’t help. Derrick Rose’s injuries have ruined his ability to perform at a Superstar level and Joakim Noah has become a terrible player. Anthony is too good to waste away on the Knicks while his friends and peers are dominating the NBA postseason every year.
1 DeMarcus Cousins
The controversy surrounding DeMarcus Cousins revolves around his attitude. Cousins is arguably the best big man in the NBA with dominant offensive numbers. The issue is he loses his cool and has anger management issues far too frequently, but wouldn’t you if you were forced to play on the Sacramento Kings? Nothing about the organization provides stability and that just causes more reason for a player like Cousins to struggle.
No other top star in the NBA needs a change as desperately as Cousins. The big man could be a top contributor on a championship level team but is stuck on a team with no chance at making the playoffs any time soon. Cousins is a rare NBA player to make the All-Star team consistently on a bad team and that just speaks to how great he has played. The career of DeMarcus Cousins will be wasted away unless he gets traded to a team that actually deserves his skills.
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