Totally Subjective List Of Five Possibly Overrated Players

by | Mar 29, 2021 | Opinion | 0 comments

Guy determines who is overrated in the NBA

You love these lists, don’t you? I know I do. They make me think, consider, doubt, and form an opinion. The best of them will make me irrationally outraged. This list will attempt to do the first batch of actions. The irrational outrage is entirely up to you, dear reader. 

The overrated NBA player is apparently as common as the NBA sharpshooter and the NBA high flyer, and many of those overlap according to many fans. Now, there are many determining factors for who may or may not qualify as overrated.

The Parameters

This is where we all likely diverge. So, what constitutes an overrated player? Is it the guy who puts up impressive numbers in the regular season only to post meek stats in the playoffs? Is it the highly touted lottery pick who hasn’t turned the corner? Would it be that All-Star who has never taken his team past the first round, much less to the Finals? Or is it the player who obviously packs the stat sheet with minimal regard for team results? 

Fret not, fellow hoop heads. I will take a few of those characteristics and apply them to five prime candidates in a cold and calculated manner. They will hopefully render a brutally honest verdict, and then we will know who are the gassed up, glorified, and overpromoted players in the Association.

Let us begin.

The Candidates

So, I asked my resident self-styled expert known as Juan the Hook Shot, or Hook Shot Juan. He is a local high school legend from way back in the day. He used to practice his unfathomable hook shot in the dusty driveway of his house listening to the Beastie Boys’ “Sure Shot”. No joke. I’ll be consulting with from time to time on all things hoops related. I asked him to name five overrated players in his estimation over a few cold ones. He gave me the following:

James Harden

Overrated players
James Harden (Brooklyn Nets) – Overrated?

Oh, how we all love him. I have to admit that I enjoy watching him more and more as of late. I’ve given up trying to nitpick at his defensive effort since his offensive skills are clearly all-galaxy. I was starting to feel like those petty naysayers that criticize Nas for beat selection while apparently ignoring the bars. It’s the bars, yo! It’s all about the bars. Get a grip.

Ahem, anyway.

Harden can score this way and that, literally. He has the step back move which sets up that unstoppable barrel chested drive to the basket which is a sight to behold. He also has a handle that is dizzying and humiliating if you swing and miss on defense. Maybe it’s the left-handedness, but it’s amazing every time. But is he overrated?

Let’s see. Does he load the stat sheet gleefully ignoring whether the team notches a W or an L? That’s debatable. I would say that most of the wins that the Houston Rockets chalked up were largely due to the points he scored and the assists he dished out to teammates.

Evolution of the Assist

Also, old guy quibble here: the assist itself also seems to have undergone a transformation in the recent past. I remember when a guy had to make a pass that led directly to a basket wherein the scorer couldn’t take more than two steps or put the ball on the floor. Nowadays? Make a pass in the back court and tally an assist after the other guy dribbles ten feet, busts a cross, and does a Eurostep before laying up and in. So it’s assists all around. Hooray. But I spectacularly digress.

He puts up the numbers, and those numbers have largely been responsible for positive results. Have they been as crucial in the playoffs though? Based on results, or lack thereof, I’d say emphatically “no”. Granted, he played in the Western Conference at a time when the Golden State Warriors were at the peak of their powers, but I still remember that night in 2018 when the Rockets missed 27 straight three pointers in a Game 7 against the Dubs. Harden himself went 0-10. That qualifies as a choke.

Chokes, unfortunately, are the realms of the overrated.

The Verdict: He is guilty of being overrated, sadly. Is it unfair that I’m basically basing it on one result that the whole world witnessed? Probably. I’ll probably do hoops penitence for this at some point if he wins a title this season, and so will Juan.

Russell Westbrook

Overrated players
Russell Westbrook (Washington Wizards) – Overrated?

Nobody plays with more consistent energy and with such unbridled rage as Russell Westbrook. He’s also a joy to behold on a basketball court. All that spectacular swashbuckling comes with a side serving of inconsistency however. Westbrook can shoot some shocking clangers at times, and they’re usually at the most inopportune moments. You take what you get with Westbrook though. You know what he is and what to expect. But is he overrated? 

He is the modern day King of the Triple Double. He won a season MVP on the basis of averaging a 3D over an entire season. Now would be a good moment to review my old guy quibble concerning assists, but once again, I digress.

The numbers do not lie. Westbrook is an all-time great. But did those numbers translate to success for his team? Well, not much. The numbers made for great viewing and consideration. Many of us marveled at the sheer audacity of his statistical prowess. He “f@%$#ed around and got a triple double” for three straight seasons. That was one long “good day” for Russell Westbrook, but a largely meh day for his teammates.

Hard to keep your eyes off him

His teams’ exits from the playoffs were spectacular though, and the clutch shots he could have drained generally missed the mark wildly. When Westbrook missed, he missed. You can’t keep your eyes off of him ever, even when he comes up short.

The Verdict: Guilty by reason of intensity. I can’t ignore the fact that Westbrook tries so damn hard. The only thing he might be guilty of is trying to do too much; overreaching. He might be guilty of stat padding, but that’s not always a bad thing in my book. What you see is what you get with Russell Westbrook. {shrugs} 

It is interesting to me that the first two guys that came to mind as “overrated” both started their careers in Oklahoma City. It’s also worth noting that in the only NBA Finals appearance they’ve both made, they were teammates of…

Kevin Durant

Overrated players
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets) – Overrated?

Will he ever live down bailing on OKC for an already great Golden State squad? You, dear reader, can make up your mind on that. I don’t think this plays a factor in whether he’s overrated or not, but I can see how some fans will focus on that, so it’s best to put it out there to begin with. I feel that it was a career move with the intention of sealing legacy. KD has taken a long view approach and I think it’s fair. What is clear is that we fans will debate his career decisions long after he retires. Now that we got that out of the way, is he overrated?

Coaches and basketball society would have forced Durant to play much closer to the basket twenty years ago. I imagine he would have been like a combination of Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon. I believe he is the player that Ralph Sampson always wanted to be, and he’s outstanding.

Potent offensive threat

The numbers bear this out and he passes the eye test with flying colors. He is one of the most potent offensive threats the League has ever seen and can score seemingly at will from any spot on the floor and with any variation or combination of moves. He has an incredible handle for a man his size and he has a shooting touch to match.

So how could he possibly be overrated?

The Verdict: He’s not. The only thing we have on him is the move to the Dubs. He might have fallen into the overrated category had he cost the Warriors a title. From a few accounts, he did affect chemistry on that team, but it wasn’t enough to alter their championship destinies and it’s not exactly measurable. Was he ring chasing at such a young age? It’s possible, but I relate his actions to the words of James Joyce, “I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today…”

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball (New Orleans Pelicans) – Overrated?

Lonzo Ball falls into the ”high pick that we’re still waiting on” category. His skill set isn’t easy to define and I still think it’s too early to make a definitive call on his career. He was the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. Magic Johnson and his own father, Lavar Ball, went to great lengths to gas him up incessantly, so the expectations were probably unreasonably high. I don’t count that against him at all.

I’ve seen improvements in his game, particularly shooting, and I don’t doubt his hoops IQ for a minute. I’m also a big fan of a 6’7” point guard. As I said before, it’s too early to make that call on Ball, and I fully expect him to turn the corner in the right situation that fits him.

So basically, I’m on “let Lonzo play” energy. We’ll revisit this topic in a couple of seasons, Juan. How about that?

The Verdict: Inconclusive.

Ben Simmons

Overrated players
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) – Overrated?

Ben Simmons was the first pick in the 2016 draft and sat out the entire 2017 season with a foot injury. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2018 and was an All-Star the last three seasons in a row. He led the league in steals last season and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. Simmons, along with Joel Embiid, form the core of the Philadelphia 76ers who have the best record in the Eastern Conference as of this writing. So is he overrated?

I said that I’m a fan of a 6’7” point guard before, so you would think I’d be bully over a 6’10” point guard, eh, old sport? Well, you’d be wrong. I do believe that this young man needs to be playing a position out on the wing where he can drive and draw the defense without having to handle the ball as much.

I’m pretty sure he likes the prestige that comes along with being the point guard, but he also struggles with shooting. I’m not entirely convinced that he has been working on that catapult of a shot he employs during the off season, but this is about being overrated, not a moratorium on work ethic.

Is he a point guard or a point forward?

Am I guilty of not giving him the time to develop like I’m willing to give Lonzo Ball? Why, yes, you noticed. It’s just one of those things. It’s the eye test factor. What can I say? It hampers objectivity, and at least I admit it!

The main reason why he’s allowed to play the point is his exquisite passing ability. I’m not sure it’s enough though. I’m writing just after the trade deadline and the Sixers have already swung a deal for George Hill. He is a point guard, so we shall make of that what we will.

The Verdict: Yes, but only slightly. He has a lot of room to improve and I do think he is capable of it. His three point shot is his most glaring shortcoming, but that’s all about reps. I predict that he can and will do it, though that clearly isn’t the point of my charming rambling.

Conclusion

There are actually quite a few overrated players in the League now that I consider it. I’ve actually heard some folks mention names like Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, and even (gasp!) LeBron James being overvalued players. That always seems excessive, petty, and personal to me, not to mention a bit amusing.

In closing, I do think overrated players are a lot like beauty in that they are in the eye of the beholder. We all have our subjective standards that we apply to each and every one as we see fit in the moment. And as I pointed out in regards to Ben Simmons and James Harden, those standards are entirely subject to change, sometimes even within the course of a season or even a game.

Do you have a story about your favorite team? Why do you bleed purple, or green, or blue? Let us know. thePeachBasket was created to be the Voice of the Fan! Every fan has a story. What’s yours?

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Rene Rocha
Written by Rene Rocha

Rene is the type of guy who remembers great plays but forgets the score. He really needs to take notes.
He enjoys San Antonio Spurs victories, micheladas, and roots reggae. Anything else you’ve heard is just petty slander.