50 Most Overrated 'Stars' in NBA History
The NBA has long been dominated by individuals who overshadow team success, evident in the consistent popularity of players who have never won an NBA title. These players are often placed on a pedestal and considered to be elite, despite the fact that they flat out do not warrant the attention.
From the high draft choices to the fan favorites, there are more than a handful of players whose stardom is unwarranted. In fact, there are 50.
Here they are.
50. Richard Jefferson
I may be alone, but I've never understood the craze over Richard Jefferson. He was the weak link on two title-contending New Jersey Nets teams, has failed to consistently display a solid effort on defense and rarely comes up big with the game on the line.
Somehow, he remains one of the bigger names in the NBA. What would you expect in a league in which solid scoring leads to consideration for stardom?
49. Jason Williams
One of my personal favorite players cannot be overlooked. He became a league-wide fan favorite for flashy passes and ball handling—and very little else.
Nevertheless, Williams remains one of the most entertaining players in NBA history. Here's to "White Chocolate" for making the NBA better.
48. Lamar Odom
Regardless of his woeful season with the Dallas Mavericks, I simply don't understand the hype.
Lamar Odom is incredibly versatile and does things that most players his size cannot, but he's also very turnover-prone and has some of the worst shot selection of any player in the NBA.
While he is an asset to any team, I believe his ability is much weaker than his star power.
47. David Lee
I've covered David Lee since he was the best player on the Florida Gators, with my attention to detail growing larger upon his arrival to the New York Knicks. The one constant to be found is that his game is solid, but his claim to greatness is an insult to the word.
Not only is David Lee one of the league's worst interior defenders, but he has never led a team to anything. Until he does, there's no reason for the recognition he receives over another power forward in California: DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings.
46. Bill Laimbeer
The original enforcer was an intimidating presence in the paint due to his dirty play and bickering.
Seriously, that's it.
45. Gilbert Arenas
I never really understood the hype surrounding Gilbert Arenas, as he had three elite seasons and not much else after or before that. While one could easily accredit that to injuries, the NBA is not made for excuses.
Arenas had the world in his hands and shot it all away.
44. Jamal Crawford
I've never understood a single coach's mentality with Jamal Crawford, as they take the really bad with the occasionally brilliant. By occasionally I'm talking about his career shooting percentage of 40.8 percent.
Nevertheless, Crawford continues to receive major money for...well...inconsistency.
43. Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer is as wrongfully-criticized as any player in the NBA. He's also one of the most frustrating players to watch, as he has one hell of a knack for committing stupid fouls and missing wide-open shots.
I'd be more angry at the Chicago Bulls front office for spending the only money they were willing to spend on a player like Booz than at the player himself.
42. Ricky Davis
In his prime, Ricky Davis was one of the hottest commodities in the NBA. He put up big points, highlight-reel finishes and, most importantly, some of the most inconsistent play you'll ever see.
His career-high 20.6 points per game in 2003 came on 41 percent shooting, while his 16.0 per game in 2005 came on 46 percent shooting. Davis simply exemplifies why players need roles: Without them, they will shoot wildly and damage their team's chances at victory.
41. Peja Stojakovic
Peja Stojakovic was an incredible shooter who played a key role in the Dallas Mavericks' 2011 NBA championship. He's worthy of consideration for the Hall of Fame due to his scoring abilities, but here's where the praise stops.
Stojakovic rose to fame with his big-time scoring in Sacramento. What was overshadowed by Doug Christie's brilliant perimeter defense, however, was the fact that Stojakovic struggled mightily as a defender.
Hall of Fame consideration would be nice, but selection would be questionable.
40. Monta Ellis
Ellis is a classic example of a great scorer being considered a great player.
Keep a close eye on Ellis, though, as it appears he has finally discovered the perfect formula for his consistent success.
He has star potential, but for the many who believe he's a star right now, please be honest with yourselves and take that opinion back. Being the best player on a team that doesn't go to the playoffs means nothing for stardom.
39. Aaron McKie
After winning the 2001 Sixth Man of the Year Award, and rightfully so after Aaron McKie posted a well-rounded stat line of 11.6 points, 5.0 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, expectations were set rather high for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philly was coming off of a season in which Allen Iverson led them to the NBA Finals, with McKie establishing himself as one of the most well-rounded bench players in the NBA, as well as an elite perimeter defender.
McKie followed that up with just one double-digit scoring season over the next five years, as well as an inability to prevent his man from scoring. A likely reason for the 76ers' inability to make another NBA Finals appearance.
38. Joseph Forte
In 2000, Joseph Forte was the ACC Freshman of the Year. In 2001, Forte won ACC Player of the Year honors. In 2002, Forte played in just eight games for the Boston Celtics, proving to be as big of a "bust" as they come.
Although the casual fan may not have ever heard this name, Forte's expectations were amongst the highest of any player. And he failed, playing in just 25 games before leaving the NBA.
37. Metta World Peace
Has Ron Artest long been one of the better defenders in the NBA? Of course. Has he also been one of the worst players in the NBA in terms of shot selection and decision-making? Without a doubt.
Artest doesn't just make bad decisions, but he dribbles out shot clocks, throws up unnecessary shots and destroys the chemistry and rhythm of his team in a majority of the games he plays. He's also a slightly overrated defender, due to his overzealous attempts at scores off of turnovers.
36. Bill Bradley
A brilliant scholar, eventual politician and all-time great college basketball player, Bradley just didn't translate that success to the NBA level. He was a solid player, at best, despite the fact that many herald him as one of the greats in New York history.
35. Chris Bosh
Any time you receive a $100 million contract, you better be one of the all-time greats. Considering Chris Bosh received a six-year, $110 million deal from the Miami Heat, that's exactly the category he becomes comparable to.
And he falls short—very, very short.
Fun Fact: Chris Bosh gets paid more than any other player on the Miami Heat.
34. Mike Bibby
Mike Bibby is an interesting case, as he's far too criticized for his play yet far too overrated in his prime. Finding ways to score on a stacked Sacramento Kings team will do that for you, as Bibby was yet another player who left Sac-town to find mediocrity elsewhere.
33. Shawn Kemp
In his prime, Shawn Kemp was as dominant as they come. He was also as irresponsible as they come, as he led all big men in turnovers in 1995 with 4.0 per game. He continued that trend by registering six other seasons with at least three turnovers per contest.
Kemp was also a very foul-prone defender due to his poor footwork and positioning, thus leading to five seasons in which he averaged at least four fouls. He averaged upwards of 3.5 on five other occasions.
While Kemp may have been a dominant scorer, he struggled in most other categories.
32. Tyreke Evans
As a long-time supporter of the Sacramento Kings franchise, I've seen some of the most overrated players in NBA history come and go. I don't think there are many as unnecessarily heralded as Tyreke Evans, though.
The 2010 Rookie of the Year shot just 40.9 percent from the field in his second season in the league, also shooting 29.1 percent from distance despite attempting nearly three attempts per contest. Tack on his steadily declining statistics, in which his points, rebounds and assists have all dropped in each succeeding season, and it's not hard to see why some in Sacramento are getting anxious for improvements.
31. Dana Barros
Dana Barros was a very exciting player to watch and became one of my personal favorites growing up. His 1995 campaign—in which he averaged 20.6 points, 7.5 assists and won the Most Improved Player of the Year honors—was a major reason why.
Unfortunately, Barros' name remained respected, but his play was underwhelming. Even though he continued to excite, he never averaged greater than 4.2 assists in his final eight seasons.
30. Muggsy Bogues
From 1989 to 1995, Muggsy Bogues was phenomenal. The 5'5" point guard put up big-time assist numbers and established himself as one of the most difficult players to defend at the NBA level.
As his career progressed, however, Bogues' height became a greater reason for stardom than his play itself.
29. Chuck Person
Chuck Person may have been a great scorer, but he was also a turnover-prone, progressively one-dimensional player. He also fouled far more than a player at the 3 ever should have.
After averaging 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a rookie, Person averaged only 6.8 points and 6.5 rebounds over the following two seasons. After that, Person never reached the six-rebound plateau again.
His name, however, was consistently found amongst the NBA's scoring elite.
28. Stephen Jackson
Stephen Jackson is an underrated defender, overrated scorer and all-around mess in the locker room. In other words, I'm not quite sure why teams are paying him to do what he's doing.
27. Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell was always considered to be a star at the NBA level, but much like Rasheed Wallace, the controversy always outweighed the production. The fact that Sprewell shot greater than 43 percent in just two of his 13 years in the league is evidence of such.
The mercurial star was always fun to watch, but due to the quality of his play, it's hard to say he was worthy of the attention.
26. Yao Ming
Now that he's gone, everyone will jump onto the bandwagon to nominate him for the Hall of Fame. For his contributions to the NBA as a global industry, that is more than warranted. As a player, however, it is not.
We are quick to forget how heavily criticized Yao was, as analysts and fans constantly badgered him for his soft play inside. Even if his statistics were impressive, he was never as dominant as his 7'6" height would have suggested.
Underwhelming may be a better word than overrated.
25. Shane Battier
Forgive me for not catching on, but I don't understand how we can praise Shane Battier as a player who turns a team into a winner. Nor do I understand the hype surrounding his supposed lock-down defense.
All the hype simply derives from his stature as a college basketball star at Duke.
24. Glenn Robinson
I don't believe Glenn Robinson is as overrated as most make him out to be, but the 1994 first-overall draft choice certainly wasn't as spectacular as he was hyped to be.
Averaging more turnovers than assists in seven different seasons is a major reason why—as is Robinson's average three-point shooting that's often heralded as great.
23. Rasheed Wallace
In 15 years in the league, Rasheed Wallace never once averaged double-digit rebounds or two-plus blocks per game. He was also a very overrated three-point shooter who finished his career at 33.7 percent from distance.
Oh, and he may have been ejected a few times.
While his value to a team cannot be denied, specifically the 2004 Detroit Pistons team that he led to a title, he was always overrated in his prime. His antics drew more attention than his play did.
22. Jamal Mashburn
For those who remember Jamal Mashburn, you'll remember the craze over his ability to put the ball in the hoop. What you'll also remember is that he was constantly plagued by injuries, causing us to wonder what could have been.
Nevertheless, he was considered a great player. Rightfully so, as he scored as well as any and crashed the boards better than most at his position. What he also did, however, was shoot 41.8 percent from the floor and fail to top 45 percent shooting in any full season of play.
21. Reggie Miller
A great shooter? Yes. A clutch performer? Yes. One of the all-time greats in terms of all-around play? Absolutely not.
Although Miller was a steal master in his day, he was far from the greatest perimeter defender. He was often bullied due to his small frame and relied heavily on his flopping to draw fouls on both ends.
Sorry, Pacers fans, but anyone who is the face of a flopping revolution deserves the criticism.
20. Derrick Rose
Don't get me wrong, folks, Derrick Rose is a phenomenal player and a wise-beyond-his-age leader. Due to the fact that popular opinion contests Rose is one of the top-three point guards in the NBA, however, the praise must be cut short.
Rose is an unbelievable athlete with a very high basketball IQ, but he just isn't what people make him out to be. Most of his assists come on drive-and-dish situations, rather than involving the other four players on the court like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash or Tony Parker.
In other words, Derrick Rose is a work in progress with the potential to be the best. Anyone who believes a media-decided award and says otherwise is just too caught up in the hype.
As for those who go with the argument that Rose could dominate in any generation, he couldn't. He relies heavily on attacking the basket, which any player from the pre-Stern days will tell you just couldn't happen back in the 90s and before. The supposedly flagrant fouls that Rose complains about were regular personals.
19. Vin Baker
If you're looking for a player with top-tier talent, Vin Baker has just that. If you're looking for a player who blew it all on alcohol and still received star recognition as his quality of play hit a severe decline, Vin Baker once again fits the bill.
After four consecutive All-Star Game appearances from 1995 to 1998 and two All-NBA Second and Third Team honors, Baker instantly became an average player. By average, of course, I mean a player who has no business being on a basketball court.
So much for the big-money contracts and Hall of Fame capabilities.
18. Grant Hill
This one might not be too popular, but it's the truth. Although Hill did post five consecutive seasons of at least 20 points per game, he has also failed to reach that mark over the past 11 seasons of his career.
While no one will question Hill's impeccable fundamentals nor will they knock his unbelievable run to 39-years-old as an active player, it's hard to call him a star. If anything, he's a star who began to dim well before we acknowledged it.
Even great players can be overrated.
17. Tracy McGrady
One of everyone's favorite players, T-Mac established himself as one of the league's best scorers by winning the title that says he's just that: the league's best scorer. Unfortunately, he's also one of the most inconsistent postseason performers and has failed to find a true strength in his game beyond scoring the basketball.
Painful but true for one of the best scorers of the past generation.
16. Joe Johnson
Ever since Joe Johnson entered the league in 2001, I've always wondered why people place him in the category of "elite." He's a very talented player who has a respectable game, but it appears more attention is given to what he's capable of than what he produces.
By attention, of course, I'm talking about a six-year, $119 million contract.
Until Johnson can lead his team past the Eastern Conference Semifinals, there is no rhyme or reason behind claims of his elite play. Ability means nothing unless you utilize it properly.
15. Alonzo Mourning
Alonzo Mourning never played a full 82 games in any of his 15 years in the league. He also spent his final six seasons in the league as an over-glorified role player, likely the result of the fact that he was one of the NBA's premier centers before that.
The fact is, Mourning's interior defense is quite overrated. He was an excellent shot blocker but was too often beaten off of the dribble. An all-time great for sure, but not one of the NBA's Top 100 players—as he's often recognized.
14. Penny Hardaway
Penny Hardaway was an outstanding talent who, as an individual, does not deserve to be on this list.
What places him here, however, is how naive people were in believing he could come back from injury after injury after injury—keeping him at start-status despite a severe decline in his quality of play after every crumble of a bone or muscle.
13. Vince Carter
This one rests firmly on the shoulders of fans and analysts league-wide, as it was they who began comparisons between Vince Carter and Michael Jordan. As a result, one of the better players of our generation, who has defied odds by posting double-digit scoring in his 13th season, will go down as an overrated star.
Quite a shame, as most don't enjoy the privilege of longevity like Vince Carter has.
12. Christian Laettner
One of the greatest college basketball players of all time rode that reputation through 13 NBA seasons. Meanwhile, his inability to find consistency from one solid season to the next underachieving year never seemed to haunt him.
The curious case of Christian Laettner...
11. Darius Miles
Darius Miles was a good player and a likable guy. Unfortunately, we analysts brought his hype to a simply unjustifiable level.
Miles posted solid numbers throughout his career and never really struggled in the way that most other draft busts have. Nevertheless, his placement on this list is as a direct result of his inability to live up to the expectations as the "next Michael Jordan."
Or to finish an entire season without an injury...
10. Steve Francis
An outstanding talent who just couldn't handle the mental grind as an NBA player. Nevertheless, he continued to get paid big money and have the life of a franchise placed into his lap.
Hence the nickname Stevie Franchise.
Maybe if the fans and owners didn't think a point guard could be their number one player, Francis would have garnered more respect for what was a very good career. Instead, he was overvalued and overrated.
9. Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury is a key player on this list, as he symbolizes what many other players have fallen victim to. As a talent, Marbury was something truly special that could have had a positive influence on any team.
Unfortunately, a few teams judged his success alongside an elite power forward as a sign of his ability to win a title on his own.
Fun Fact: No point guard has been the best player on a title team since Isiah Thomas in 1990.
8. Kwame Brown
Do you remember how everyone jumped onto the LeBron James bandwagon before he even arrived in the NBA, his metaphorical coronation as King James and the rumors of his being the "second coming" of Michael Jordan?
Don't forget that Kwame Brown received that same treatment from each and every one of those "experts" and analysts. As a result, Brown was the first-overall draft choice in the 2001 NBA Draft, going before the likes of Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph and Tony Parker.
How can you blame someone for where he's drafted? You can't. You can just state the facts, thus telling the world that they were wrong about Kwame Brown. We build them up to break them down.
7. Rashard Lewis
When you can call yourself the highest paid player not named Kobe Bryant, you better be a legitimate star. Otherwise, you're Rashard Lewis.
6. Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker may have been a great scorer, but he shot worse than 40 percent from the field in two of his most heralded seasons—and another two after that.
In fact, Walker never shot greater than 43 percent in a single season throughout the entirety of his career. In other words, he kept on shooting, kept on missing and kept on trying.
And trying. And trying. With career averages of 16.5 shots per game on 41.4 percent shooting.
5. Carmelo Anthony
I've never understood the craze over Carmelo Anthony, as his reputation as the NBA's best closer is derived from nine years in which he's never made the NBA Finals. In other words, what important games has he actually closed?
More importantly, what victories make him a star? We often mistake a great scorer for a star player, and in this instance, that has never been more true.
4. LeBron James
This is not to fault James as a player but instead the millions who have called him an all-time great. The reason for this would be the fact that one generation ago, there was a player who did every single thing LeBron James did but better.
His name was Magic Johnson.
Before Magic, there was Oscar Robertson, who remains the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double over the span of a full season.
In other words, LeBron James is not one-of-a-kind. Instead, he's the latest of a great breed, but the only one who hasn't proven himself as a championship-caliber player. Until he does that, his name shouldn't even be included in debates of who the "Greatest of All-Time" is.
3. Pete Maravich
"Pistol" Pete Maravich was an outstanding college basketball player. He led the NCAA in scoring in each of his four seasons, posting greater than 40 points per game each year. Just don't attempt to convince yourself that he made the Hall of Fame due to his professional career.
While Maravich made three All-Star teams, he fits the bill of what many great—but not elite—players share in common: He just didn't do enough in the postseason. Pistol Pete may be a great player, but he's not one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of All-Time.
2. Chris Webber
I've never understood Chris Webber, who had the talent to be the NBA's best but the motor to make a coach want to bench him. He was also visibly afraid of banging down low, likely the reason he averaged double-digit rebounds in only six seasons.
"Only" is derived from the fact that three of those double-digit averages came in years that he played in just 42, 54 or 67 games.
C-Webb is an all-time talent, but far from the player you want starting on your all-time team.
1. Derrick Coleman
The 1990 first-overall draft choice was selected ahead of one of the greatest point guards of all-time: Gary Payton. As we look back and compare careers, it's pretty clear who won that battle.
As ESPN's Page 2 brings to light, it wasn't just because of Coleman's inconsistent play:
His nickname should stand for "Disruptive Crybaby." Everywhere he has gone has gotten worse with him in the lineup. When the Nets chose him as the No. 1 pick, everyone thought he would be the next great power forward and make New Jersey a playoff contender. All he did was give them extended summer vacations and more time on the golf course.
Couldn't have said it better myself.