The 5 Most Overrated L.A. Lakers of All Time

Howard Ruben@howardrubenContributor ISeptember 7, 2012

The 5 Most Overrated L.A. Lakers of All Time

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    The Lakers may be one of the most successful sports franchises in history but it doesn't mean they haven't had their fair share of mediocrity. 

    For every Earvin "Magic" Johnson or Kobe "Bean" Bryant, there are a dozen players who we'll never remember or will remember for all the wrong reasons.

    We may even reminisce about a particular player who, in reality, was as overrated as a Black Sabbath concert.  The Lakers have taken a chance on a number of highly-touted athletes who ended up being nothing more than an enormous paycheck and an even bigger headache.

    Hey, you know who you are.

    To be truly overrated takes some doing.  A bench splinter who only sees a few minutes of action per game does not qualify.  The expectations for such a player are too low. 

    Honorable mention might go to some, such as Javaris Crittenton.  The former first-round pick (2007) never panned out in Los Angeles and was traded midway through his first year in the famous deal that brought Pau Gasol to the Lakers.

    According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to "overrate" is "to rate, value, or estimate too highly" as in  "overrates his importance to the team" .

    The Lakers may not like to admit they made a huge mistake on drafting someone in the first round or trading assets and high picks for another who turned out to be big bust.  So we will do it for them.

    We are bound to miss some notable who didn't pan out.  And I am sure you will let us know who that was. 

    For those of you who think the Black Mamba should be on that list, I look forward to hearing from you—but you won't find him on mine.

5. Elden Campbell 1990-99

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    Elden Campbell had the misfortune to play for the Lakers when the team was struggling and in between dynasties.

    He followed Kareem Abdul Jabbar, only the NBA's all-time leading scorer and one of the greatest the game has ever seen.

    Still, when the Lakers made the Los Angeles native and former Clemson star their No. 1 pick in 1990, there were many fans who felt the 7'0", 280-pound center would eventually lead them back to the promised land.  It never happened.

    To his credit, Campbell was the Lakers' leading scorer of the 1990s and was known for his shot-blocking ability.  Yet, he never seemed to improve enough to become the superstar the Lakers hoped he would become.

    Campbell's best year was 1996-97 when he averaged 14.9 points and played alongside newly acquired Shaquille O'Neal.  The Lakers finished second in the Pacific Division (56-26) but lost in the Western Conference Semifinals, 4-1, to the Utah Jazz.

    Despite his defensive prowess, Elden Campbell never averaged more than eight rebounds per game as a member of the Lakers.  He was a good player, not a great one.  Put simply, he was overrated.

4. Vladamir Radmanovic:

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    There are always two sides to a story.  In the case of Vlad Rad, the story was one of frustration and disappointment for being relegated to role player on a Lakers team that featured the likes of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.

    The sharp shooting Radmanovic came to L.A. in 2006 and was expected to give the team big minutes and big-time scoring off the bench.  He did neither in three years.

    Phil Jackson played Radmanovic just under 20 minutes per game during those three years and Vlad responded by averaging just 7.1 points.  The 6'9" small forward did not bring much to the table for L.A. other than his shooting, and with Gasol and Bryant getting most of the touches, Vlad was often the forgotten man on the court.

    In an story that ran just after Vlad was traded by L.A. to Charlotte in February 2009, Radmanovic expressed his displeasure with having to spend so much time on the bench.

    "Being a Laker was a great experience," Radmanovic told The Charlotte Observer.  "But it was also frustrating not knowing when and how I'd play.  Phil's system, great as it is, doesn't give a role player much opportunity.  For Kobe Bryant, it's great. For Pau Gasol, it's great. But role players don't do much."

    We can certainly attest to that. 

3. Samaki Walker

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    Samaki Walker was busted by Arizona police in 2011 for possession of marijuana and liquid steroids.  The fact that he apparently tried to eat some 10 grams of pot as the cops approached tells you all you need to know.

    The 6'9", 255-pound power forward came out of college (Louisville) in 1996 and was drafted No. 9 by the Dallas Mavericks.  Walker never averaged more than 8.9 points per game with the Mavs before being traded to L.A. in 2001.

    The Lakers turned Walker into a starter and he averaged 24 minutes per game that first season, but only scored 6.7 points a contest.  The following year was worse: 18.6 minutes, 4.4 points per game.

    Walker was one of those players whose reputation preceded them and had better press clippings than actual talent.  In retrospect, he was a major bust for the Lakers.

    Walker was gone after two years.

2. Slava Medvedenko

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    Medvedenko was known for his shoot-first mentality and did average 8.3 points per game (career high) during the 2003-04 season with the Lakers after Karl Malone went down with an injury.

    Slava was a fan favorite for a little while that year, but injuries hampered his play at the beginning of the 2004 and again in 2006 (herniated disc). 

    He was waved by the Lakers in March of 2006, signed with Atlanta and was out of basketball just 14 games into the 2006-07 season.

1. Hands Down, Kwame Brown

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    Kwame Brown tends to show up on a lot of lists and they usually are not good ones.

    Was he just a terrible player to begin with or was he one of the most overrated to ever play the game?

    I would have to argue that he was both but mainly he was about unrealized expectations.  Brown was one of the most ballyhooed players to come out of high school when the Washington Wizards drafted him No. 1 overall in 2001.

    At 6'11", 270 pounds, Brown seemed to have all the tools to succeed at a high level.  He was a USA Today first team All American, along with LeBron James, Eddy Curry, Dajuan Wagner and Kelvin Torbert.  His numbers: 20.1 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.8 blocks, three assists, and 2.2 steals per game for Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Georgia.

    Instead, it was all down hill from there.  Brown has managed to stay in the NBA for 11 seasons, despite the fact he has averaged 10 points per game just once (Washington, 10.9 in 2003-04).  He was an absolute bust with the Lakers, in three years never averaging more than 8.4 points an 6.5 rebounds.

    Kobe Bryant told a story about Brown to an audience of students at UC Santa Barbara about a game against the Pistons that sums up the sort of player Kwame was.  He basically told Kobe not to pass him the ball, even if he was wide open under the basket.  "I'm nervous," Brown told Bryant.

    The story, told to Michael Lee of the Washingtron Post (October 7, 2011) illustrates just how overrated Kwame Brown was.  No. 1 draft pick, No. 1 bust.