The climate of the NBA changes every year. The style of play has gone from the days of a big man dominating the paint for the majority of offensive success to ball movement and efficient shot selections from the outside being key. Until it happened, many believed the Golden State Warriors would not stand a chance to win the NBA Championship due to their offensive game plan revolving around the three-point shot. Coaching philosophies, player mindsets and the organic flow of the game have caused an evolution over the recent years. With things moving at such a rapid speed, players can easily grow or lose their value at the drop of a hat.
It is difficult to try to find the right criteria for what one deems overrated. Players being given large contracts symbolize organizations believe they are among the best in the sport and that puts a target on the back of those stars. There’s also the scenario of a star being past his prime and no longer being a premiere talent despite playing with the mindset of one. The rationale behind viewing one as overrated has many definitions, but mostly it’s about a player that’s not as good as he’s being valued.
The players selected as most overrated on their team are being evaluated on their situation entering the season. Most of these players are good but they’ve become valued more than their actual worth when it comes to their current situation. From championship contenders to franchises on the rebuilding path, every team has someone that is currently overrated. We’ll look into each situation carefully and examine why each player selected is the person being valued more than he should be on his team. There’s a very good chance things will change quickly as the season starts, but these are the most overrated players on each NBA team right now.
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30 Atlanta Hawks – Jeff Teague
Following a breakout season where he made his first All Star appearance, Jeff Teague is being counted on to serve as a premiere point guard. The problem is Teague’s play is primed to see a decline as the Atlanta Hawks star did not finish the season as strongly as he started it. With the position in the NBA being as deep as it ever has been, Teague would not be in the top ten point guards entering the season and that’s not including the second year players that will see improvement. The Hawks played Dennis Schroder over Teague on a few important occasions in the playoffs last year and there could be a battle for minutes again this season.
29 Boston Celtics – David Lee
On the surface, the rising Boston Celtics trading for a former All Star player on the final year of his contract in return for very little would be a great move. David Lee will help out as his talent alone is an upgrade in Boston but the power forward is definitely overrated. The reason Lee lost his starting job with the Golden State Warriors last season during their championship run was because his defense was atrocious. With Lee on the court, you’re basically giving up if the opposing team has multiple offensive weapons in the front court. As much as his double-doubles will help the Celtics, Lee will harm their overall defense.
28 Brooklyn Nets – Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson was acquired by the Nets to become one of the players that made the team a playoff contender as they relocated from New Jersey to Brooklyn. The team never advanced past the second round of the playoffs before quitting on the plan by reaching a buyout with point guard Deron Williams this summer. Johnson’s declining play has been one of the reasons for their lack of success. Once regarded as one of the best scorers in the league, Johnson has aged into a nice veteran piece but not someone that can lead a team. Brooklyn will likely look to trade his expiring contract to a contender in need of one more scorer at the trade deadline.
27 Charlotte Hornets – Nicolas Batum
Michael Jordan is known as being the greatest NBA player of all time but one of the worst at making personnel decisions in the front office. Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets trading for Nicolas Batum doesn’t bode well for the future of the young French star’s game. Batum was overpaid by the Portland Trail Blazers with the hopes that he would develop into a difference maker that could turn the team into a championship contender. Despite being paired with LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, Batum failed to improve his offensive game and saw a decline in his defense over the years. Looking to rebuild his reputation in Charlotte, things will be tough as the Hornets struggle to get the best out of their talent.
26 Chicago Bulls – Joakim Noah
It’s extremely hard to remember many others scenarios of a player losing it as badly as Joakim Noah did last season. The outspoken center is known for being one of the most energetic players in the league with a defensive intensity and hard-nosed approach to the game that made Chicago fans fall in love with him. Last season, his play fell off dramatically and during the postseason, the Bulls would have a significantly better plus/minus total when Noah was on the bench rather than on the court. Noah has never been an offensive juggernaut but he always contributed until last season when he became a hindrance. The overall presence wasn’t the same and another bad season for Noah could spell doom for the Bulls.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers – Kevin Love
Kevin Love has been respected as one of the best offensive talents in the NBA and in the discussion for the best power forward in the game until last season. Love put up incredible numbers and was a guaranteed nightly double-double during his time on the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves. During his first season on a playoff and championship contending team, Love had his worst season in years playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. His overall stats and percentages went down leaving us to wonder if he was always padding his numbers on a bad team. Love is also one of the worst defenders in the NBA and shows no signs of improvement which will always make his overall standing overrated.
24 Dallas Mavericks – Deron Williams
The Dallas Mavericks secured Deron Williams on a very cheap contract following his buyout with the Brooklyn Nets, making his deal a no-brainer, but he’s still very overrated due to just how terrible he’s been. The popular belief is that Williams’ troubles in Brooklyn were because of injury issues but even when he was healthy enough to take the court, he constantly underperformed and was the reason the team could never improve or become relevant. His poor attitude also contributed to issues with teammates and multiple coaches. Any magic from his Utah Jazz days are long gone making Williams a negative impact on any team.
23 Denver Nuggets - Danilo Gallinari
When the Denver Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, the team acquired a couple of promising young pieces but Danilo Gallinari was the biggest asset. Gallinari looked like he could develop into a difference maker but never hit his potential. After dealing with injuries over the last couple of seasons, Gallinari will attempt to make progress from where he left off but Denver has already accepted that he’ll be the fourth or fifth best player on a good team in a best case scenario.
22 Detroit Pistons – Reggie Jackson
The Detroit Pistons gave Reggie Jackson an outrageous 5 year, $80 million contract in the offseason to be their point guard of the future. Even John Wall questioned the move wondering how Jackson was making the same amount of money as him. Jackson has talent but his terrible defense and lack of efficiency on the offensive end makes him a flawed player to play such an important role on the future of the organization. Some would argue Jackson isn’t even the best point guard on his team, as Brandon Jennings was balling last season before an injury shortened his season.
21 Golden State Warriors – Draymond Green
The passion, hard work and defensive intensity by Draymond Green helped take the Golden State Warriors to the next level as NBA Champions but his presence in the league may be a little overrated. Green was given a big contract extension in the summer. While he does deserve it based off what he did last season, it was his only noteworthy season since entering the NBA. Between his erratic personality and offensive weaknesses, there are a few similarities with Lance Stephenson. Stephenson had a terrible last season after getting his big extension following a contract year. Green will need to work hard at improving his weaknesses to avoid the same path.
20 Houston Rockets – Dwight Howard
The days of Dwight Howard being a dominant center are long gone. Howard has a lot of wear and tear on his body and it’s been catching up to him over the last few seasons. Still a very good defender and rebounder, Howard is still a top center in the NBA but he’s no longer clearly the best. He can no longer average 20-23 points and will have trouble staying healthy for a full season. Howard’s biggest deficiency is his poor free throw shooting. If a team decides to intentionally foul him, the Houston Rockets are immediately at a disadvantage and will have to bench him.
19 Indiana Pacers – Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis was not viewed as one of the players that would be able to contribute to a winning team due to his high volume of shots and the perception of selfish play, but he enhanced his reputation in the NBA thanks to a successful stint with the Dallas Mavericks, as Ellis’ strengths were emphasized in Rick Carlisle’s system. The flaws of Ellis will likely come back into play with the Indiana Pacers. Paul George is great but the Pacers offense will be a mess after David West left the team in free agency. With less offensive weapons, Ellis will revert to his poor shot selection.
18 Los Angeles Clippers – DeAndre Jordan
The battle between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers to sign DeAndre Jordan in free agency made the big man a very overrated asset in the NBA landscape. Jordan is very athletic, an elite rebounder, an exciting dunker and a tremendous defender but he has no offensive game. All of Jordan’s points come from being fed open dunks by Chris Paul’s passing and defenders leaving him open thanks to the rest of the team’s spacing creating issues. Jordan would have been exposed in Dallas. He’s also the worst free throw shooter in the league and is forced to sit on the bench during important stretches of big games due to coaches intentionally fouling him.
17 Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is still one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA but there’s no doubt his play is on the decline. Bryant’s style of play used to be successful when he was younger as his talent would carry the team to success. At his current age, they need him to look to his teammates more and try to take a smaller role on the offense but he still wants to shoot at a high volume. The team won’t improve or see who fits into their future until Bryant changes his philosophy or retires. Kobe’s box office power is unquestioned but his diminishing health has made him the most overrated player on the Lakers because he doesn’t allow anyone else to be rated.
16 Memphis Grizzlies – Jeff Green
The Memphis Grizzlies traded for forward Jeff Green last season in hopes of improving their chances at competing for a NBA Championship, but Green turned out to be inconsequential to the overall outlook of the team. Memphis was great defensively but needed another consistent scoring option to get the next level. Green couldn’t fit the bill. His scoring average dipped from 17.6 points on the Boston Celtics to 13.1 with the Grizzlies following the trade. There were rumors of Memphis offering Green in trades for a difference maker this summer but nothing came out of it. Green will have to step up big time this season for the Grizzlies to have any chance against the elite West teams.
15 Miami Heat – Dwyane Wade
It’s sad to say because he’s been one of the best players in the league for many years but Dwyane Wade’s body of work has caught up to him. Wade being forced to miss multiple stints per season due to injury has become a near guarantee entering each season. Miami was able to survive it when LeBron James was on the team but following James' departure, Wade’s injuries played a role in the Heat missing the postseason. Wade is still very good when completely healthy but he can no longer be the best player on a team that can go deep in the playoffs. This is Chris Bosh’s team now.
14 Milwaukee Bucks – Michael Carter-Williams
One of the most surprising trades at the deadline last year was the Philadelphia 76ers trading Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks. Why would a team in rebuild mode trade the defending Rookie of the Year just one season into his career? Williams is overrated, that’s why. With the 76ers being such a poor team, Williams was able to pad his stats with a lack of options around him. The Bucks get a lot of love for surpassing expectations last season but their record dropped off dramatically with Williams as point guard after he replaced Brandon Knight. Until he improves his defense, shooting and turnover issues, Williams will be a hindrance.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves – Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio is extremely fun to watch due to his fast paced style and fancy passing but he’s very one-dimensional. Rubio is among the best passers in the league but it’s all he can really offer to a team. During his four years in the NBA, Rubio’s best shooting percentage in a season was a terrible 38.1%. It is one thing if a poor shooting percentage led to big point totals but Rubio has a career average of 10.2 points per game. Rubio also struggles on the defensive end of things and that is a huge problem since the Western Conference is loaded with great offensive point guards.
12 New Orleans Pelicans – Eric Gordon
The New Orleans future is bright thanks to the excellence of Anthony Davis and a promising supporting cast but Eric Gordon is not one of the reasons why. Gordon was the biggest asset acquired when New Orleans traded Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers but he’s never developed into anything more than an average player. Gordon will get hot once in a while, whcih will lead to a big scoring performance, but most of the time he takes away from the team by being terribly inconsistent. His inefficient game will need to be fixed or Gordon will ride the bench with the Pelicans looking for deep playoff runs.
11 New York Knicks – Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony’s story parallels Kobe Bryant’s, but to a lesser extent. Anthony used to be able to carry his team to the postseason thanks to his elite scoring but as he gets older and deals with more injuries, it has become significantly tougher. The New York Knicks desperately need Anthony to develop a mindset to create chemistry with his teammates so he can get the best out of them. The talent in New York does not look impressive but there are some decent young pieces. Anthony needs to change his style, but he likely will stick to what has made him a star in the NBA and will fade further down the superstar rankings.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder – Enes Kanter
The trade acquisition of Enes Kanter by the Oklahoma City Thunder looked great last season as the center put up impressive numbers with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka injured. That was also partly due to Russell Westbrook playing at a peak level when he was entering the MVP race. Kanter’s offensive game is not good as it showed to be during that stretch and, more importantly, he’s among the worst defensive big men in the league. For a team that is usually cheap, it’s mind boggling that the Thunder gave Kanter a 4 year, $70 million contract this summer. There’s a very realistic chance that Kanter may not be the premiere center on the team if Steven Adams outperforms him defensively or the team wants to go smaller with Ibaka as the five.
9 Orlando Magic – Nikola Vucevic
Many NBA minds believed Nikola Vucevic should have made the all-star team last season due to his impressive numbers. Vucevic has been a double-double machine but his stats don’t translate to the game. If you watch an Orlando Magic game, you barely realize Vucevic’s point or rebound totals because they don’t impact the game. Vucevic is a classic stat stuffer where he benefits off being on a bad team with weak depth. With the lack of options, he pads his numbers and the team continues to lose. The ceiling for Vucevic will be the third best player on a playoff caliber team.
8 Philadelphia 76ers – Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel is actually a promising young piece with potential to become very good. The reason he was selected here is that the Philadelphia 76ers have no one else that can be deemed “overrated” because no one is rated. The only other player on the team with any hype behind him is rookie Jahlil Okafor and his expectations aren’t as high as Noel's. After an adequate rookie season, Noel is expected to be one of the building blocks of the 76ers future but he struggles to put the ball in the basket. Noel has the potential to become a top defender but his offensive game has many question marks.
7 Phoenix Suns – Eric Bledsoe
The Phoenix Suns have been on the precipice of making the playoffs for the last two seasons but fell just short. Eric Bledsoe has been the best player on the team both seasons but his inability to become a premiere point guard has stunted Phoenix’s growth. Bledsoe is a very good two-way player and will once again be the best player on the team but he doesn’t appear to be good enough to lead a team to the playoffs. The Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers poor offseasons have left postseason spots available, but the Suns will struggle once again unless Bledsoe elevates his team.
6 Portland Trail Blazers – Mason Plumlee
The Brooklyn Nets once viewed Mason Plumlee as a valuable asset to the future of the team. He’s young, athletic and has a great work ethic but eventually the franchise gave up on him and sent him to the Portland Trail Blazers for a draft pick. Plumlee will see minutes on the depleted Blazers roster but his skills are extremely limited. The former Duke star only scores from inside the paint, is a terrible free throw shooter and has trouble defending stronger power forwards. Portland will try to give him as many opportunities to improve since he’s one of the pieces in their rebuild but he likely will not be able to reach the team’s expectations.
5 Sacramento Kings – Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is not a good point guard anymore. After a decent start to the season with the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks decided to trade for the former All Star point guard as their missing piece to compete for a title. The team severely declined when Rondo joined the team and they were actually better when he was out of the lineup. Rondo’s defense is no longer pristine and he’s still a putrid shooter. His attitude is also an issue according to many reports as he clashes with head coaches. The situation with the Sacramento Kings could become a disaster, as the Kings have a lot of players who can explode (not in a good way) at any time.
4 San Antonio Spurs – Tony Parker
With great play contributing to multiple NBA title wins, Tony Parker is viewed as a future Hall of Famer. This makes him overrated in a broad aspect when he’s valued higher than guys like Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady when looking back at overall careers. Parker has always been in a great system and has never been a truly dominant player. Today, he’s definitely overrated as his game has diminished over the last couple of seasons. Parker is no longer a top 10 point guard and will be conserved for the playoffs as younger stars like Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge carry the workload.
3 Toronto Raptors – DeMar DeRozan
The Toronto Raptors have had back to back regular seasons full of great wins and memories but both years saw them get eliminated in the first round. DeMar DeRozan is part of the team’s dynamic duo with point guard Kyle Lowry. DeRozan is the scorer of the two and is relied on to score 20+ points per game. This usually leads to inefficient play but it’s accepted because the Raptors don’t have many other scoring options. In the playoffs, it becomes more of an issue. Teams let DeRozan get his points but make him take more bad shots and it hurts the team’s ability to get momentum unless he has a hot night, which is typically once or twice in a series.
2 Utah Jazz – Trey Burke
The Utah Jazz are one of the rising young teams in the NBA with a realistic chance at stealing the last playoff spot in the West. Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward all had impressive seasons last year and should only get better as they develop chemistry. The team’s biggest issue is the point guard position. Dante Exum is injured and Trey Burke will spend the majority of time on the court. Through his first two seasons, Burke has been shooting an abysmal 37.4% from the field and has not developed the ability to facilitate. A point guard that can’t pass or shoot will cause problems every time.
1 Washington Wizards – Nene Hilario
With a backcourt set up for the future thanks to John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards have locked up Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat to be their big men in the paint. The NBA is evolving and it’s rare to see two traditional big men in a starting lineup as many other teams opt to go smaller. Washington performed better when Paul Pierce (now gone) and Otto Porter Jr. were on the court, with Gortat in the front, rather than Nene. Between his age and health issues, Nene has declined and is no longer a starting caliber power forward unless the rest of the lineup is stacked.
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