In the NBA, a player that is underrated can easily become overrated and a player that is overrated can easily become underrated depending on the stage of their careers, the situations that they are in, and even how large their contracts are. A player may be overvalued on one team, but with a little change of scenery and they could become the missing link to another team’s championship.
Take for example Boris Diaw. The Big Croissant was wasting way when he was in Charlotte playing for the former Bobcats. He was gaining weight rapidly and it was evident that his passion for the game had all but dissipated. But after being bought out by the Bobcats, Diaw was born again when he was moved to the championship caliber San Antonio Spurs. In fact, Diaw’s dormant talent even blew the Spurs coaching staff away when he started practicing with them mid-season. When Diaw signed his 5-year deal worth $45 million, he was clearly overrated, but when he arrived in San Antonio, he was the hidden weapon that they unleashed to win their first championship in seven years. And just like that, Diaw moved from being under appreciated to greatly appreciated.
But the narrative does not always play out that way. More often than not, players get grossly overpaid by ambitious general managers who incorrectly gauge their potential. Some contracts may only last for one year, but other contracts can go as long as five years. So, a player may be worth the money during the first couple of years, but who is to say whether or not they will still be worth it during the latter years?
Below is a list of the most overrated players in the NBA today. This list is not based upon their career performance or their legacy, but it is strictly based upon the expectations of them this year and how they are failing to live up to those expectations today.
*All stats are taken from ESPN.com and are correct as of March 11th, 2015.
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20 Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich said it himself, the Spurs are going nowhere without Tony Parker. He is the head of the snake, but Parker has started to look like his age a bit this year. This season Parker is only averaging 14.7 points per game, 4.9 assists per game, and 1.9 rebounds per game. Parker believes that it was his hamstring injury that has been slowing him down this past year, but injuries are a part of the game and something that every player has to play through.
19 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Charlotte Hornets
The former number two pick in the 2012 draft is only averaging 10.7 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, and 1.5 assists per game. MKG was always known for his defense more than his offense, but his inability to shoot from anywhere on the floor has really made him a big liability on the offense end for the Hornets who already struggle on offense. He hasn't attempted a single three pointer all year and is shooting a pedestrian 46.8% from the floor.
18 Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets
Deron is in his 9th year in the league, but he has looked like a shell of himself the past couple of years. This season, Williams was even benched in favor of Jarrett Jack and the Nets actually looked better with Williams coming off the bench. This season, he is averaging 13.0 points per game, 6.1 assists per game, and 3.1 rebounds per game, which is way below his career average. Williams has taken the starting gig back, but the Nets still face themselves on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
17 Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
The numbers are always there when it comes to Melo, it is more his poor field goal percentage, his inability to lead the Knicks to the playoffs, in addition to his poor health, that land him on this list. Four years ago, Melo only played 55 games, the year after that he played 67 games, and this year he has only played in 40 games. For a superstar, Melo finds a convenient way of abandoning his team at the end of the season when they have no shot at making the playoffs.
16 Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets
Dwight Howard was once the best center in the NBA. Today, he is not even in the conversation anymore due to all of his injuries. This season, Howard has only played in 32 games because of his back injuries. As a result, he is only averaging 16.3 points per game and only 1.4 blocks per game. Those are both below his career averages. He looks like a shell of himself and the Rockets will be hoping that he gets back to playing at a high level consistently in time for the playoffs.
15 Rajon Rondo – Dallas Mavericks
The marriage in Dallas has not been a fairytale so far. Rondo has already butt heads with his new coach Rick Carlisle and his inability to shoot 3-pointers and free throws severely limit his ability to be an offensive weapon. Defenders just play off him now because they know that he is going to pass it after he penetrates the paint, which makes the Dallas offense awfully predictable.
14 Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets
After signing a new contract this past summer with the Denver Nuggets, the Nuggets had high hopes for their energetic power forward. However, Faried has only averaged 11.5 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, and 0.7 blocks per game. A part of the reason for his poor numbers was due to his former Coach Brian Shaw, who put him in positions that he could not succeed in. Faried is the type of player that needs to be in a free flowing offense, but his poor jumper, lack of post-moves, poor free throw shooting percentage, and poor interior defense make him a liability when the pace slows down in the playoffs.
13 Derrick Favors – Utah Jazz
Favors is now in his fifth year in the league and is slowly rounding out into shape, but there are still a lot of holes in his game. For starters, Favors still has not developed a jump shot, nor does he have a go to post-up move. A lot of his points come off point guard penetration or garbage points off of offensive rebounds. However, he has yet to average double-digit rebounds despite living in the paint.
12 Brook Lopez – Brooklyn Nets
Like his teammate Deron Williams, Brook Lopez was relegated to the bench in favor of Mason Plumlee. This season, Lopez has averaged 15.5 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, and 1.6 blocks per game. Lopez has stayed relatively healthy for Lopez standards, but he still remains an ineffective rebounder and slows down whatever offense he is a part of because he is strictly a half court player. Lopez has taken the starting gig back again, but whether he can into an elite center again remains a question.
11 Jonas Valanciunas – Toronto Raptors
The big fella mans the middle for the slumping Raptors. This season he is averaging 12.0 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game, and 1.1 blocks per game. Jonas is mostly a glorified garbage man at this point of his career because his post-up game is still rather raw. He does have great length, but his lack of athleticism makes him less intimidating as a shot blocker.
10 Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards
No one doubts that Beal can shoot, but his inability to contribute in other categories makes him one-dimensional. Beal is averaging 14.8 points per game, 3.0 assists per game, and 3.8 rebounds per game. The good news is that Beal can create for himself, but it has not led to the point where he can create for others the way that he can create for himself. Well he may not be as good as people believe at the moment, he's only in his third year and can definitely improve and meet our expectations of him.
9 Roy Hibbert – Indiana Pacers
This was supposed to be the year that the big fella proved all his naysayers wrong from last year. With Paul George out for the year, the Pacers were going to pound it into the paint with David West and Roy Hibbert, however, that has not been the case at all. Hibbert has only averaged 10.7 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 1.8 blocks per game. He's been looking average ever since the middle point of last season, and that doesn't seem like it's going to change anytime soon.
8 Isaiah Thomas – Boston Celtics
The little man puts up great stats. No one can deny that. This season, he is averaging 16.3 points per game, 4.0 assists per game, and 2.4 rebounds per game. However, there is a reason why Thomas is on his third team in two years. For a point guard, he fails to create for others or make other players better. Thomas is a shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body, which is okay in today’s NBA, but his defensive woes make him a major liability on the defensive end.
7 Nicolas Batum – Portland Trailblazers
Injuries are some of the reason to blame for Batum’s horrendous season, but it is hard to believe that Batum has been injured the whole season. Everyone eventually gets healthy, but Batum only shows flashes of the player that he once was. This season he is only averaging 9.5 points per game, 4.8 assists per game, and 5.6 rebounds per game. With Wes Matthews going down for the season, the Blazers are going to need Batum to step up more than ever.
6 Ricky Rubio – Minnesota Timberwolves
The fourth year point guard is averaging 11.0 points per game, 9.2 assists per game, and 5.8 rebounds per game. However, the biggest Achilles Heal with Rubio remains his lack of perimeter shooting. Rubio is playing in a Golden Age of point guards, so his lack of speed and jumper place him on the bottom tier of point guards. He's shooting a mediocre 36.7% from the floor, to go along with 31.7% from beyond the arc.
5 Michael Carter-Williams – Milwuakee Bucks
The former Rookie of the Year was traded from the rebuilding Sixers to the playoff bound Bucks. This season he is averaging 14.8 points per game, 7.2 assists per game, and 5.7 rebounds per game, but those numbers are somewhat inflated because he played for the SIxers for the majority of this season. Furthermore, those numbers are even more deceptive because MCW has a 39% field goal percentage and he turns the ball over 4.1 times per game, which means that he is one of the careless point guards in the league.
4 Lance Stephenson – Charlotte Hornets
Lance led the league in triple-doubles last season. This season, Lance isn’t even in the starting unit for his new team. Lance is currently averaging 8.7 points per game, 4.6 assists per game, and 5.1 rebounds per game. His talent is unquestionable, but his lack of emotional intelligence makes him a volatile player that lacks the maturity to be a superstar. He's in his fifth year, so there is still a little time for him to take the next step, but at this point, the height of his career looks like it'll be blowing in LeBron's ear.
3 Reggie Jackson – Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons traded for Reggie Jackson because they believe that he is a starting point guard in the NBA. However, they have lost seven games in a row and Jackson has not been able to shoot an efficient field goal percentage. This season, he is only averaging 42.7% from the field and 27.3% from downtown. His poor jumper allows defenders to sag off him, so that he can’t penetrate to the paint, which prevents him from creating as well as he could.
2 Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls
Rose’s injuries are starting to sound like a broken record now. But injuries aside, where Rose has really proved to be overrated is his poor shooting percentage of 40.7% and his high turnover rate with an average of 3.2 per game. His atrocious assist to turnover ratio makes him an inefficient person to run the helm. Additionally, Rose is averaging over five three-point attempts per game, but is only making 28.7% of them.
1 Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
Before Kobe called it quits this season, he was averaging 22.3 points per game, 5.6 assists per game, and 5.7 rebounds per game. Those are MVP like numbers, but all of these numbers were inflated by playing on one of the worst teams in the NBA. Furthermore, Kobe was only shooting 37.3% from the field and 29.3% from 3-point land. Last but not least, Kobe averaged 3.7 turnovers per game, which shows that he was forcing the game too much instead of letting the game come to him.
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