October 16, 2020

Ranking the 10 Most Overrated NBA Players

The NBA is full of the best basketball players in the world, and the hype that surrounds those elite players is never-ending in some cases. But, as all sports fans know, name recognition doesn’t necessarily mean that players are worth their respective hype.

These players receive tons of attention among NBA fans and analysts, but they are overrated relative to how good they actually are, even if they are still immensely talented.

Who's the most overrated player in the NBA? Let's find out. 

10. James Harden

The league's top scorer can put the ball in the basket seemingly at will. So it is understandable that he receives a lot of love from the NBA world, as he possesses gifts that few players in the history of the league do. But Harden is still overrated to a degree, thanks to the fact that he fails to bring his Midas touch to the court too often in the postseason. 

The Houston Rockets have become synonymous with choking in the NBA playoffs, with Harden being the poster boy for those failures.

Harden’s shooting percentages tend to drop in the playoffs, with notable failures against the Golden State Warriors over the last few years looming large over a career that would otherwise be known for an endless stream of buckets from the bearded one.

Harden also isn't the most entertaining player to watch. He scores in bunches, sure, but he does a lot of his damage by flailing and flopping to get to the free-throw line. 

9. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is one of the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season. He can impact a game in so many different ways, and as such is regarded as one of the premier players in the league. But his frantic style of play is also what makes him overrated, as Westbrook is often too fast for his own good, taking his teams out of games with his inability to slow down at times.

Even worse is Westbrook’s jump shooting, which is nothing short of embarrassing. Westbrook is barely making more than 25% of his three-point shots in the 2019-2020 season, with Rockets fans likely shrieking in terror every time he loads up a long-distance shot.

While Westbrook has a style of play that justifiably draws a lot of attention, his lack of refined play in several facets will always hold him back from being as good as people say he is.

8. Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving is thought of as an elite point guard, thanks to his history of making big plays in the playoffs during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. When he joined the Nets, Brooklyn instantly became one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference before the current campaign. But Irving is a team-chemistry nightmare, and his injury history has resulted in him being off of the court more than he's been on it.

Irving’s time with the Boston Celtics was a massive disappointment, as the team underachieved due to both locker room and injury issues for Irving.

Once Irving returns, though, he and Kevin Durant could run through the Eastern Conference and Irving could reclaim his status as one of the league’s best point guards. But, for now, Irving is living on his past successes.

7. Draymond Green

When the Golden State Warriors were winning championships, Draymond Green played a key role. His ability to grab rebounds and knock in the occasional three from the top of the key helped make the Warriors one of the great teams in NBA history. But Green was exposed as an overrated player this season when he was usually the best player on the floor for the Warriors.

Green just wasn’t able to be productive enough to be a top player for the Warriors in the absence of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. He will still be one of the best role players in the league next year when the team has its stars back. But Green proved that he would not be able to carry a team without the presence of other elite level players.

6. Andre Drummond

When ranking the best centers in the NBA, Andre Drummond is likely at the top of the list for some. He is better at rebounding and blocking shots than most, and his ability to get easy looks on rim runs is difficult for many players to match. But Drummond is overrated based on the fact that the center position just isn’t as significant as it used to be in the game of basketball.

Drummond’s inability to adapt to the current NBA has made it so that there is a definite ceiling as to how effective he can be. Though he is still a very popular player, Drummond would be a lot more useful if he could make free throws and the occasional three-pointer.

For now, Drummond and his teams will need to settle for the big man only being able to be so good before other players who may be less heralded outperform him.

5. Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis is overrated thanks to where he started his NBA career. As a top-five pick by the New York Knicks in 2015, Porzingis received a lot of notoriety right away as he was expected to be the franchise savior.

Porzingis was decent as a young player for the Knicks, but he certainly was not as good as the somewhat delusional Knicks fan base wanted him to be. Today, he's in an ideal role as the Robin to Luka Doncic's Batman. 

What has held Porzingis back from living up to the hype has been the lack of bulk on his frame. Where most NBA players put on weight as they gain experience and gain muscle, Porzingis is still a slender figure. That makes it easier for players to bully him around in the paint, which severely limits how effective Porzingis can be as a post defender and a rebounder despite his height.

4. Andrew Wiggins

Wiggins entered the league with unreal hype as the next future Kansas superstar. Unfortunately for the former No. 1 pick that also means he was held to a higher standard than players who came from more humble beginnings.

It obviously didn't work out in Minnesota as Wiggins was overshadowed by fellow No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, a much better player. Acquired by the Warriors, Wiggins wore out his welcome with the T'Wolves and that might've been the best thing for the disappearing act. 

While Wiggins was expected to be a game-changing player, he's really best served in his current role as a defensive role player who will be asked to hit a lock of open threes, which makes him an incredibly overrated player for a former top selection. 

3. Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker is considered one of the most clutch players in the NBA, with memories of him hitting last-second shots for the UConn Huskies preceding his pro career. But Walker hasn’t lived up to that reputation of being a clutch player in the NBA. 

Walker's distinctly lacked memorable moments as a pro, thanks in large part to his time toiling away in obscurity as a member of the Charlotte Hornets.

Walker has a real opportunity to make some clutch plays happen this postseason with the Celtics, though he has been battling injuries throughout the year. If he can lead one of the best young rosters in the league to a deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs, it would be his first meaningful impact in a postseason. That would make him more deserving of his status that was largely earned from college.

2. Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons might be one of the most explosive and exciting players in the NBA, but the former No. 1 pick has such noticeable flaws in his game that the Sixers' ceiling is limited because of it. 

Simmons’ biggest issue is his inability to make a shot outside of the paint. When Simmons gets to the basket, he's an unstoppable force. 

But a perimeter player who can’t shoot jump shots belongs on the island of misfit toys more than he belongs in a leadership role on an NBA championship contender.

It is unlikely that Simmons developed a jump shot during the coronavirus break, so the Sixers will likely disappoint in the playoffs once again.

1. Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine turned some heads with the Minnesota Timberwolves both on the court and during the Slam Dunk Contest. And LaVine parlayed that buzz into a massive contract with the Chicago Bulls, with LaVine making big bucks to be the face of the franchise moving forward. 

The problem is that LaVine just isn’t good enough to be the biggest name on an NBA team, at least any team that wants to win.

LaVine is an accomplished scorer, ranking 12th in the NBA on the season in scoring prior to the Orlando restart. But it takes so much more than scoring to be worth the kind of contract that LaVine got. He lacks the leadership necessary to take a team to the next level, and the Bulls are likely to remain a bottom-dweller while he is their best asset.

Photo: Getty Images / Illustration