Basketball is a complicated game and stats rarely tell the whole story. We all love to debate who are the best players in the league, and even more, we love to compare players to past generational stars. Winning is important though and basketball is a team sport played on two ends, scoring 20 points a game isn't the only way to be great. On the other end, winning championships isn't enough either, Mario Chalmers does have two rings as a starting point guard after all.
In the NBA today, there remains a ton of debate as to which stars are overrated. A fair share of people will say LeBron James is overrated, blaming him for his teams' losses in the NBA Finals, when in actuality, his only bad performance in the finals was 2011.
The overrated players on this list saw their names get bigger and bigger because they played on a big market team, they hitched their coattails to stars and won some rings, or put up some big numbers but never really helped the team win. Some people will likely get very upset when they see some names on this list, as there are bound to be some fan favorites. It's time for some cold hard reality though. This list isn't to say they're bad players, just that they shouldn't be as revered as they are. Here are the 15 most overrated players in NBA history.
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15 Rajon Rondo
The luckiest late-first round pick ever. When Rondo joined the Celtics all he had to do was get the ball to one of the three future hall-of-famers on his team. People were so impressed with his passing and assist totals, failing to recognize that almost any point guard would get assists passing to KG, Ray and Pierce. Rondo would routinely pass up wide open lay-ups to search out an assist to add to his totals.
When the big-3 era fell apart in Boston it didn't take long for Rondo to come crashing down to earth. His shooting is bad, historically bad for a guard and he has the attitude of superstar despite not being able to make a free throw. His defense has always been overrated because his athleticism would make you assume he is a great defender, he is not. This upcoming year we will get to see the disgruntled Rondo team up with DeMarcus Cousins and coach George Karl, what could possibly go wrong.
14 Charles Barkley
The Round Mound of Rebound was a very unique player. At his height he dominated the boards and the post. But Barkley had many flaws to his game and they held him back from ever winning a ring. He was often out of shape, showing up to camp 20 pounds overweight. It shouldn't as much a surprise if you watch him now as an analyst on TNT, but Barkely wasn't the smartest NBA player, he was never a great passer and teammates often grew tired of his attitude. Defensively he struggled because of his size and his attention to putting all his energy on the other side of the court.
Barkley, like a lot of players during his era, was propped up as NBA greats because they competed against Jordan but that time in the NBA was likely its weakest ever and he still couldn't lead his team over the top.
13 Carmelo Anthony
Volume scorers are almost always overrated. Melo is surely one the most impressive offensive forces in the league when he is locked-in and healthy. The problem with Melo is that his offense makes everyone on his team worse, they stand around watching him as he takes three jab-steps and shoots a fade-away jumper. Melo has become increasingly a jump shooter as his athletcism has diminished, you almost never see him attack the hoop like he did when he first came into the league. Defensively he struggles as he tends to expend all his effort on the other end of the court. Melo, unlike the others in his draft (Wade, Bosh, LeBron) hasn't been able to find how he can make a team into a contender.
12 Robert Horry
"Big Shot Bob" they called him after hitting some of the most memorable shots ever during his playoffs runs. Horry is the player who proves winning isn't everything. Sure Horry has seven rings and he has hit some big shots, but he was always a role player and one that has since been elevated to a higher status. We love to remember him hitting huge shots in the playoffs but one or two shots can cloud our memory, he actually only shot 35% from three in the playoffs. Horry was smart to ride with Hakeem in Houston, Shaq/Kobe in L.A. and then Duncan in San Antonio.
11 Steve Francis
Taken with a high draft pick but refusing to play in Vancouver, Francis never had the career he should have. Nicknamed the Franchise because he was supposed to be that caliber of player, it ended up becoming more of a warning, as in he will ruin your franchise. Potential is nothing if you can't put it all together and Francis never could. He was a score-first point guard that could never score that efficiently. Francis was never a great play-maker, struggling to average more than six assists a game despite having the ball in hands all the time. Francis only played 11 years in the league and is the poster boy for some of the worst years in Knicks history.
10 Pete Maravich
Pistol Pete was a joy to watch in his day but his electric play led to disappointing results. Maravich sought out the highlight play, trying ridiculous behind-the-back passes and no-look dimes even if they didn't work more often than not. Maravich had very little team success and his career flamed out very quickly. A lot of the accolades given to him were because of his college career which was far more legendary than his pro career. Maravich was also a mess on defense and players routinely had big games against him.
9 Stephon Marbury
"Starbury" failed to live to the hype he had when he came into the league and joined KG in Minnesota. He arrived in the NBA with a lot of hype but his abilities never ended up helping his team win anything. Score first point guards like Marbury rarely succeed unless they can learn to be better leaders and floor generals. Marbury was also a bit of a basket-case and never grew out of it. He has since taken his talents to China where he is building the legend he was never able to do in the NBA.
8 Bill Laimbeer
Legendary by association, Laimbeer was a bruiser who played on the bad boy Detroit teams led by Isiah Thomas. Those Pistons teams were great and won rings so it raised the profile of everyone on them. Laimbeer was a pest and his toughness is cited as what gave that team their identity. But similar to hockey, the fighter is always overrated and his play was never good enough to be called a legend. Laimbeer is always mentioned as a Detroit Pistons great, despite putting up pedestrian numbers.
7 Derek Fisher
One of the most infuriating players to watch if you were cheering for the team playing the Lakers. Fisher was never very good but always managed to hit the big shot, often, the lucky shot. Fisher won 5 rings in his time with the Lakers, standing on the shoulders of Kobe and Shaq. Fisher was always commended for his leadership, and he must have been a good leader because he certainly wasn't a great point guard. His lack of speed and athleticism meant he could not get by anyone and instead waited for the open shots he would get while everyone was focused on stopping Shaq and Kobe.
6 Kevin McHale
He was a very good player on one the NBA's best and most well-known teams of all time. The reputation he garnered because of the success of those Celtics teams outweighs what he was able to do on the court. McHale was a great post-up player but was never a great rebounder or defender for his position. Opposing teams would focus most of their energy on trying to stop Bird so easy opportunities came often for McHale. In today's NBA it would be difficult for McHale to thrive playing power forward and lacking the athleticism he would need.
5 Vince Carter
Vinsanity took the NBA by storm when he joined and put the Raptors on the NBA map. His popularity would always outweigh his actual play. Vince's performance at the 2000 dunk contest will remain one of the most impressive feats on a basketball court, but it doesn't count for wins. Carter put up some big numbers but his career never reached its potential mainly because of his attitude. Carter never had what it would take to match his peers like Kobe. Carter would routinely disappear for stretches during games, just coasting on his athleticism. Carter was never able to lead a team as a successful playoff contender either, even if the weaker eastern conference. Vince had the talent to be one of the greats and instead he was just a high-flyer.
4 Reggie Miller
A very good player and great shooter but a player whose legacy is made bigger because he once gave a choke sign to Spike Lee sitting court side. Miller was never a very dominant scorer, only averaging around 18 points a game during his career. Miller did very little other than shooting to help his team win. He was a poor rebounder, defender and play-maker. His scoring relied on others getting him open. Miller's legacy is helped by the fact he is one of the most clutch shooters of all time but being clutch is only so important in the first round of the playoffs, and Reggie never lifted his team the way his legacy would suggest.
3 Patrick Ewing
Patrick Ewing, like a lot of players on this list was great, but he could have been better. The New York, Madison Square Gardens effect weighs big for Ewing, a very talented player who was put on a pedestal by fans hoping for a Knicks team to be good again. Ewing struggled most when it mattered, in the clutch and in the playoffs. His inability to never make team a real contender, which is what the truly great players do, holds him back from what he could have been. Despite his size, Ewing got most his points from mid-range jump shots and was never the dominant post presence he should have been. Ewing was a great player but putting him the discussion of best NBA centers ever is nonsense.
2 Wilt Chamberlain
The quintessential numbers aren't everything. Looking at Chamberlain's numbers now seems like a joke; how does someone average 50 points a game for a season? But Chamberlain played a time where his athleticism and size was unmatched, so he could dominate. It's tough to hold it against him but he was often being guarded by someone six inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter. Stats in his day are also confusing to look at, for example in the 1960s teams had about 70 rebounds a game, compared to about 40 now, meaning he had far more opportunities to rack up stats, and the same holds true for scoring numbers.
He was also a famously bad teammate, putting his stats ahead of winning and never becoming the dominant defender he should have been. His teams never found success until he stopped taking 50 shots a game. Nowadays we criticize players like Westbrook or Kobe for taking 30 shots, but Chamberlain would do that in a half. He is still a great player but someone with his numbers should be the best, not just great.
1 Allen Iverson
This a tough one to say but it's hard to look pass the fact that Iverson was the pinnacle of volume scoring. His efficiency was always below average and it made the offense on his teams struggle to score at a good rate. Iverson was turnover prone, posting close to five a game in some years and shot a lot of threes for a guy who often didn't crack the 30% mark from that range. While his teams did have some success, the 76ers had to construct the team so specifically around Iverson, which was a bunch of defensive studs that could make up for his mistakes on that end while not worrying about their own offense, because with Iverson, he was the only offense.
In the finals against the Lakers it became clear his brand of scoring was never going to win the championship. Iverson was one of the most fun players to watch in his generation but beneath the cornrows and crossovers was a player who was never going to win a ring.
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