Most Overrated Players in the NBA Today

by Taylor Smith
on March 21, 2017

Who are the most overrated players in the NBA?

Our own Kevin Roberts provided his list of the eight most underrated players in the league today, featuring the likes of Jazz forward Gordon Hayward and Wolves guard Ricky Rubio.

Now, though, let’s go to the other side of the spectrum. With Kobe Bryant having retired, someone else will have to rise up and assume the role of “most overrated player in the NBA.” There are certainly plenty of candidates, but who takes the cake?

Many of these guys have enjoyed fine careers, but continue to coast off of what they did five or more years ago. Some of these other guys got plenty of hype, only to never quite live up to it at the NBA level.

So, who are the most overrated players in the NBA today?

8. Jeremy Lin, PG, Brooklyn Nets

To start, Jeremy Lin is absolutely a cultural icon and his rise to international stardom from essentially nowhere is plenty inspirational. He’s also a solid NBA player, but not quite the star that he is often made out to be.

Lin is a perfectly fine NBA guard. He’s capable of playing both backcourt spots, can get to the rim effectively and has become a slightly better than average three-point chuckster. Lin has had some solid seasons with Houston and Charlotte, but his “Linsanity” tenure with the Knicks still lingers in the minds of many.

Some continue to make the case that Lin is an All-Star caliber player, and that’s just not the case. He has certain physical limitations that keep him from being a particularly effective defender, and his playmaking skills still leave something to be desired. Lin is a solid contributor, but a stud he is not.

7. Dwyane Wade, SG, Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls decided to give a two-year contract worth $48 million to an aging Dwyane Wade last summer in a move that remains baffling. The Heat were hesitant to commit big bucks to the then-34-year-old , so he decided to leave the only NBA city he’s ever known in search of a bigger payday elsewhere.

His hometown Bulls were happy to accommodate him, and the results have been disastrous. While Wade can still put up decent scoring totals (18.5 points per game this season), he is hardly efficient and his lack of range will likely limit his effectiveness as his athleticism continues to wane.

There’s no telling what the future holds for Wade. He can opt-out of his deal this summer to leave the mess in Chicago, but is he really in a position to forfeit nearly $24 million? There likely isn’t a team out there that’ll offer to pay him more at this stage of his career.

6. Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers

I don’t feel great about including Paul George on this list, but he and the Pacers have just been flat-out underwhelming this season. Larry Bird certainly hasn’t done his superstar any favors by building a shoddy roster around him, but there is still enough talent here for George to theoretically lift them into the upper tier of the Eastern Conference.

Instead, the Pacers are just barely keeping their heads above water at 36-34, good for the No. 6 spot in the conference. PG13’s individual game hasn’t really taken the leap many expected it would, either. He’s still an excellent all-around defender, but he often seems to settle for perimeter jumpers when he could likely just take his defender off-the-dribble with relative ease.

Indiana appeared headed for a bright future just two years ago, but their window snapped shut quickly. George will be an unrestricted free agent just over a year from now, and it’s safe to wonder if his days with the Pacers are numbered. He says he wants to play for a contender, but the fact that he hasn’t been able to lift his team as a whole over the last couple of years is a bit of a red flag.

5. DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans

Speaking of star-level players that struggle to lift their teams, DeMarcus Cousins is the king of that. However, it’s fair to cut Boogie a little slack. He’s spent the vast majority of his career playing for a Kings franchise that almost makes the Knicks look like a well-oiled machine. Disastrous roster and personnel decisions are largely to blame for Sacramento’s lengthy recent history of terrible play.

He’s now a part of a similarly-flawed roster with the Pelicans, but it didn’t take long for murmurs regarding Cousins’s negative impact to start surfacing again. Cousins is a curious fit alongside fellow high-usage big Anthony Davis, but talent typically has a way of trumping everything else in the NBA.

We’ll see what kind of roster the Pels can surround their stars with this summer, but until he even makes the playoffs, people will continue to accuse Cousins of being a guy that puts up numbers but can’t actually win games. There are few more talented players in the entire league, which makes Cousins fascinatingly maddening.

4. Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami Heat

Like Cousins, Whiteside is another player that seems to just hunt his own numbers. Watching Whiteside can be incredibly frustrating. He clearly has the physical gifts and talents necessary to absolutely dominate a game on both ends, but he often looks disinterested in actually competing.

He landed a huge contract to stay in Miami last summer, and it’s understandable that that may have a negative effect on how certain players motivate themselves. Now that he’s no longer having to chase the big payday, Whiteside can really just coast and rest on his stacks of cash.

We see him rise up and show that fire every now-and-then, though, which makes his dry spells all the more curious. Whiteside is fully capable of putting up lines of 20 points, 20 rebounds and a handful of blocks consistently, yet we see that kind of effort rather rarely.

His defensive impact is also overrated. Whiteside foolishly leaves his man in search of a highlight-reel block, which often leads to easy buckets for the man he’s tasked with stopping.

3. Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons

To be fair to the Pistons, they landed an absolute steal by nabbing Drummond with the 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Many scouts were leery of his work ethic following an underwhelming freshman campaign at UConn, but Drummond has proven to be a hard worker since turning pro.

Unfortunately, he seems to have plateaued a bit. After averaging 16.2 points and nearly 15 rebounds a game last season, Drummond is down to 14.6 points and 13.9 boards this season. Those are still solid numbers, but he hasn’t shown any tangible improvement from last season to this.

Asking a player as raw as Drummond to become a go-to offensive option was always a tall order. He has a little hook shot he can turn to, but that is literally the entirety of his arsenal on that end of the floor. The fact that he may be the worst free-throw shooter in the league makes it easy for defenses to just hack him rather than letting him get easy dunks.

Like Whiteside, Drummond also struggles with defensive awareness. Rather than hunting blocks the way Whiteside will, though, Drummond has shown a weird hesitation in help defending. He’ll let a driver coast to the rim undeterred rather than come over to try and protect the rim.

2. Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics happily gave a four-year deal worth the maximum amount of $113 million to big man Al Horford last summer. The move was celebrated as though the Celts had finally landed their superstar, but Horford just isn’t that. He’s a solid, All-Star level player and all, but is he really the type of difference-maker that can lift a team to a championship level?

It doesn’t seem so. While he’s an excellent passer and decent long-range shooter for his position, Horford’s game also comes with plenty of holes. For whatever reason, the 6’9” Horford has been miscast as a center for just about the entirety of his NBA career. Horford had some solid rebounding seasons with Atlanta, but he’s grabbing fewer than seven rebounds a game this season with Boston.

The Celtics get routinely crushed on the glass, and that may ultimately prove to be their undoing against a team like the Cavaliers that tends to dominate the boards. Horford also isn’t long, tall or athletic enough to offer much rim protection from the five spot. Offensive-minded opposing centers have really been feasting on the Celtics all season long.

Horford does some good things, but is he a max-level player capable of being the second-best player on an NBA champion? I don’t think so.

1. Derrick Rose, PG, New York Knicks

Derrick Rose’s upcoming summer is sure to be a fascinating one. The Bulls made the rare wise move in deciding to trade him to the Knicks last summer. The former MVP has shown that he’s still physically capable of a highlight-reel play on occasion, but he doesn’t do enough well to really fit into the modern NBA.

He’s never been much of a distributor despite playing point guard. He’s one of the worst three-point shooting guards in the entire league. He’s not offering much defensive resistance whatsoever. Rose’s primary function on the basketball court is scoring, and he longer is able to do that particularly efficiently.

The Timberwolves reportedly showed interest in trading Ricky Rubio for Rose at the deadline, but wisely decided to keep the young Spaniard. Rose is still only 28, but repeated injuries have left him a shell of his former self.

It’s really tough to imagine a team spending a ton of money to bring in a player that does what Rose does in today’s NBA. Teams are hungry for “3-and-D” types on the wings, and Rose does exactly neither of those things. It’s hard to believe we’re only a few years removed from this guy being named league MVP.

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