The NBA is currently experiencing an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent in the league. There are more great players in today's NBA than possibly ever in the game's existence, and with that being true, it can be argued that there are too many teams in the NBA. With 30 teams now in the league, the talent has become spread very thin.
The combination of too many teams, and many great players has left us with rosters unable to fulfill the potential of superstar players. If the NBA reduced the number of teams down to say 24, that would eliminate 90 players currently on NBA rosters, consequently making the teams much better on average. We have seen the unfortunate fate of great players being stuck on bad teams before, with Dominique Wilkins and Tracy McGrady being prime examples of players who spent their prime years wasting away with a mediocre franchise.
Today we will count down the 15 NBA players who who completely overshadow their teammates, and need to move on to greener pastures if they want to experience true success. Let us know in the comments if we forgot to mention a player that you think is too good for their team.
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15 Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic was drafted in 2011 by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 16th overall pick. He played only one season in Philadelphia before being sent to Orlando as part of the Dwight Howard trade (which sent the All-Star to the Lakers). Since then Vucevic has turned himself into a great NBA player, and is a relatively unknown star simply because he is hidden in Orlando. Vucevic has turned himself into a double-double guy over the past three seasons, yet the Magic have not even sniffed the playoffs since they acquired him.
If Nikola could find himself in the right place, there is no telling how good he could become. At only 25 years old, he still has more improving to do and thankfully for Orlando, the center is under contract for two more seasons. The Magic recently hired coach Frank Vogul, and are hoping with the continued progression of Vucevic, as well as some other young talent, the team could potentially be a playoff caliber club in the next couple of years... but don't hold your breath.
14 Kemba Walker
Playing for the G.O.A.T. would intimidate others, but Kemba Walker has proven himself to be one of the better, and most clutch players in the league under the watchful eye of Michael Jordan. Since joining the Hornets in 2011, Walker has increased his production every season, culminating in a 2015-16 season during which he averaged 21 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game.
Coming out of college it was clear that Walker had the clutch gene. He led the Connecticut Huskies all the way to the National Championship nearly single handedly. This past season the Hornets made the playoffs, losing in the first round, with no blame being placed at the feet of Kemba. It was his second time in the finals, while his assists dropped off, his points per game improved the second time around. The Hornets' future looks bright, and that is in large part thanks to their cornerstone guard, Kemba Walker.
13 Brook Lopez
Lost in the mess that has become the Brooklyn Nets, lies one of the best big men in the NBA. Brook Lopez was on the fast track to super-stardom when he was partnered with Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Gerald Wallace back in 2008. Then Williams lost his juice, Johnson quit trying, and Wallace was sent packing. Lopez has averaged 19 points, and 8 rebounds for his career, and has demonstrated great offensive ability as a big man. When the right pieces are placed around him, Lopez can dominate a game. Last season it was rumored that the Oklahoma City Thunder were exploring trade options for the big man, but the trade never materialized and Lopez was stuck playing in Brooklyn. With the future looking bleak it would be smart for Brook to do his best in finding a way out of town. His departure seems unlikely anytime soon, as the big man just signed a three year extension to his contract.
12 Chris Paul
Some would argue Chris Paul is still the greatest point guard in the NBA today. He has the pure one-guard mentality, along with the drive of a player hungry to experience playoff success. Paul is a entering his 12th season in the NBA, and after 12 seasons CP3 has led the league in assists four separate times, and led the league in steals six times. With all those accolades, Paul has never reached the conference finals of the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Clippers All-Star, he always is the highest scorer on his team, but Paul is not a natural scorer. CP3 is a passer first, and has shown that over the years having been paired with great dunkers, players like Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan come to mind. But Paul has never had a full team that he can lead to greatness. There have however, been rumors of him joining Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade in New York in 2017. We can dream right?
11 John Wall
Statistically speaking, Wall is one of the best point guards in the NBA today. He has averaged 19 points and 10 assists over the past three seasons, which makes him the best over that time. He has also helped turn the Washington Wizards into a respectable organization, despite some bad draft picks, and internal drama. With Wall at the helm, the Wizards were headed in the right direction until last season, when Wall spent some time on the sidelines with injuries.
At that point it became clear just how valuable Wall is to the franchise. With him missing some of the season last year, the Wizards missed the playoffs and ultimately fired their head coach. Washington looks to have a strong bounce back season as they welcome new coach Scott Brooks into the fold. Wall looks to be healthy and ready to lead his team to success, but he will not be able to do it alone.
10 Anthony Davis
Many "experts" predicted Anthony Davis to be the league MVP last season. Obviously that did not happen. What did happen, however, was Davis missed a lot of games with injuries and the Pelicans struggled greatly. They ended up being one of the worst teams in the league and landing a high lottery pick. Davis is expected to be back next season and be back to MVP form, but for the team to have success, they will need role players to step up, including first round pick Buddy Hield. Davis has shown that he wants to make things work in New Orleans, as he signed a monster five-year, $145 million contract extension this offseason. It is not clear how they plan on winning it all, but the Pelicans have one of the top five players in the game, and should be able to find a way to become title contenders before Davis' contract expires.
9 Andre Drummond
Regarded by some as the best true center in the NBA today, Andre Drummond is stuck in Motor City trying to make it work with the Pistons. Drummond is spending his summer playing with team USA and honing his already incredible skills as an elite big man. Drummond is another player who cashed in big with the increase in salary cap. Drummond committed five years to the Pistons, and in exchange he will receive $127 million over the next half decade. After all, Drummond has shown that he is capable of dominating the league. Last season, he averaged 16 points per game, and a league-leading 15 rebounds per game.
With Stan Van Gundy running the ship, Detroit may have a shot at making some noise in the Eastern Conference, but there is no denying that if Drummond took his talents to another, more established squad, he could have some incredible success.
8 James Harden
"The Beard" is one of the best offensive players in the game today. He is now the lone superstar in Houston, thanks to the departure of Dwight Howard. Harden has already proven that when he is not the best player on his team, that team still manages to have great success, simply because he is a better role player than a superstar in his own right. See the 2012 NBA Finals as a prime example. Harden, however, has shown that he wants to be the man and he wants to be the reason his team wins or losses. As of late, his teams have been doing more losing than winning, but it is not all Harden's fault. He has been burdened with a franchise who continually makes mistake after mistake. Whether it is allowing Chandler Parsons to leave, or taking on the task of Dwight Howard, or firing the coach four games into the season, the Rockets seemingly can never get it right. Harden would have been much better served had he just staying with the Thunder and tried to improve upon an incredible 2012 season.
7 Carmelo Anthony
One of the most underrated superstars of this era, Carmelo Anthony is taken for granted on a nightly basis. The New York Knicks have wasted the prime years of an all-time great scoring talent. Anthony made the playoffs in his first 10 seasons in the NBA, but since the Knicks have been floundering year after year, Melo seemingly has forgotten what playoff basketball tastes like. Melo is in the back-end of his prime and he now will attempt to make a playoff run with an aged Joakim Noah, an injury-riddled Derek Rose, and a second-year player in Kristaps Porzingis. There is no telling what the Knicks will become this coming season, but it surely cant be much worst than what they have been the last four or five years. Hopefully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Melo though.
6 Damian Lillard
Lillard is easily the most overlooked superstar in the game. He is stuck way up in the Pacific Northwest with the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard finished last season with 25 points per game and seven assists, but even with those numbers, Lillard was still somehow snubbed out of the all-star game. Remarkably, Dame led his team to the Western Conference Semi-finals after being the only returning starter from the season before -- an incredible feat! The lack of talent in Portland has been covered up by Lillard to the point where people actually think Allen Crabbe and C.J. McCollum are great players. If Lillard was somehow able to get out of his contract and join a team with even just a good lineup, not even a great one, he would immediately be thrust into the MVP discussion. Shoot! He should already be there, quite frankly, at least in my humble opinion.
5 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is a freak of nature. With the departure of Kevin Durant to the overloaded Warriors, Westbrook is now the only superstar on the Thunder. He will likely put up Oscar Robertson numbers this coming season, and is the odds on favorite to win MVP. However, if he was on a team with some more talent, he could have much greater team success than he is expected to have now. Westbrook has improved his skills as a point guard over the years. He is at the point now where he averages over 10 assists per game. Russ won't say it yet, and he may not realize it yet, but he will miss having Durant around to give him a breather here and there, as well as help get him some easy assists. Westbrook and KD had something special. Sadly, that is gone now, and Russ has fully accepted the challenge of doing it alone. He made that even more clear recently when he signed a three-contract extension with the OKC Thunder, showing once more that Westbrook is not afraid of anything.
4 DeMarcus Cousins
The best big man in the game is probably DeMarcus Cousins. He comes along with some attitude issues, but his skills on the court are undeniable. Last season, Cousins averaged 27 points, and 11.5 rebounds per game. There is no other big man in the NBA who can put up those numbers, and at only 25 years old, expect DeMarcus to improve on those numbers this coming season. As Cousins matures, he will become even more sought after than he already is, and when that time comes, Sacramento should demand a "king's ransom" for the talented big man.
If the Kings decide to part ways with him, Cousins will surely land in a good spot, since anywhere is better than Sacramento. Once he finds a new home, we can expect to see Cousins playing deep into the playoffs and reminding basketball fans everywhere just how important and impactful a great big man can be.
3 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is way too good to go play for the competition, which is exactly what he did when he left OKC and ran to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are the team that sent Durant packing last year after coming back on the Thunder from a 3:1 deficit. Durant went to a team that was already stacked and did not need to add him to be a title contender. KD has as much or more talent than any player in the entire NBA, and now he will be forced to play second fiddle, "Robin" to Steph Curry's Batman, if you will. It is unfortunate to see such a talented player willingly get stuck in a situation in which he will have to compromise his own talents for the sake of other players.
Durant is far too good to be the second best player on his own team. Durant seems to know that things may not work out between him and the Warriors, as he only signed a two-year deal with the team, with an opt-out option after one year. He may be planning another move in the summer of 2017.
2 Steph Curry
Through no fault of his own, Steph is now in a tricky situation. His team, the Golden State Warriors, went out and signed a 2nd alpha male, as well as a 3rd and a 4th if you count Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Nevertheless, the Warriors are now a completely different team than the one Steph led to a championship a couple years ago. To get KD, the Warriors were forced to lose valuable role players, including Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, and Festus Ezili. Curry is one of the three greatest players in the NBA, and now he will be competing with Kevin Durant to be the leader of the team.
If Curry is unable to work with KD this season, he may want to seek a trade to a place where he can be ball dominant and let his dribbling and shooting skills carry a team to the promised land again. Luckily for Curry, it may never come to that, as Durant signed just a two-year contract with an opt-out clause after one year. It appears that if the Warriors are unable to win the title this season, Durant will be moving on.
1 LeBron James
When you're the best player in the world and you're dubbed "The King" you're inevitably going to overshadow your teammates.
LeBron is simply too good for any team he ever plays on, but for LeBron to have come back home to Cleveland and win that city and that franchise a championship is beyond storybook. But let's be clear; the team is the Cavaliers, and the team is owned by Dan Gilbert -- the same Dan Gilbert who wrote that scathing letter to his fans condemning LeBron James and berating him. LeBron somehow found it in his heart to come back and play for this man. LeBron has now made good on his promise to bring Cleveland a championship and if he decides to move on from Cleveland, there should be no ill-will towards him, like there was the last time he took his talents elsewhere.
There have been rumors swirling that LeBron may go to the New York Knicks after this coming season to play with long-time friends, and rivals, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony. If this quartet does happen and these superstars join forces, the basketball world will be in for a treat.
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