Blake Griffin and 7 Other Superstars Who Really Aren't Overrated
The bigger a player's name is and the more money he is paid, the more susceptible he is to harsh criticism if he doesn't perform at a high level every night.
It's only natural to think that someone who is making millions of dollars to play a sport should be able to live up to the high expectations we have as fans, and when they don't, we love to let them hear about it. Therefore, it's easy to see how just a few bad games or even a bad season can really hurt a player's reputation as a superstar.
So let's take a look at some players who may be frequently referred to as "overrated" and give them a closer look and a chance at redemption.
8. Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
Say what you want about his gunning tendencies, but Jennings definitely has a natural scoring ability. Though the box score often shows that he may have a little too much confidence in himself at times, there is still reason to believe that he is plenty worthy of being the No. 1 guy for the Bucks.
Jennings was solid for Milwaukee last year (19.1 PPG, 5.5 APG, 18.46 PER), but he didn't have the greatest supporting cast to help him on offense.
This could be different this year with the addition of Monta Ellis to join Jennings in the back court, and it could turn into a situation that really helps Jennings refine his game.
His high volume of shots and poor shooting percentage could be attributed to the pressure he felt to carry his team, meaning that he probably didn't have much of a choice other than to try and force his own shots up.
Now with someone to take that pressure off of him, maybe we can see Jennings continue to excel and maintain his star status.
7. Tyreke Evans, SG, Sacramento Kings
After a sensational rookie season where he joined elite company by averaging 20 points, five assists, and five rebounds per contest, Evans has since disappointed in his last few campaigns.
Part of this could be due to his nagging injuries or maybe the lack of motivation for playing for a continuously bad Sacramento team.
However, I think one of the main reasons we haven't seen Evans continue to perform is due to his lack of versatility.
His shooting touch has never been there and his predictable Euro step slashing tactics have since been planned for by his opponents.
This means that Tyreke will have to keep developing his game now that he has been figured out, after relying on his limited skill set his entire rookie season.
Though many think Evans has been a letdown as of late, he is still just 23 years old, and continuing to grow, so to pass judgment on just how good he can be at this point in his career would be premature.
6. Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
There have been plenty of well-documented complaints about Dwyane Wade, mostly involving his flopping tendencies. However, just because he tries to fake his way into calls doesn't mean that he can't play at a high level.
Wade, even before the Big Three was formed in Miami, was still putting up great numbers and doing so with his flashy moves and exciting circus plays.
Even through the criticism he's been facing about losing his own team to LeBron and not being the same player he once was, at the end of the day, Dwyane Wade is still one of the better guards in the NBA.
5. Pau Gasol, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
Gasol is often labeled as a soft defender in the post and is seemingly losing his reputation as a valid NBA star, especially after getting dunked on in the worst way by Blake Griffin last year.
However, these knocks on Gasol may be unwarranted, since he continues to be one of the better and most consistent bigs in the NBA.
He has averaged at least 17 points and nine rebounds since he's been in LA, and his ability to spread the floor is valuable for an LA team loaded with so many weapons.
Sure, he's maybe not the most likable guy playing on one of the easier teams to hate on in the league, but he is still a very quality star for the Lakers and should continue to contribute among the other stars on the roster.
4. John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
After a lot of struggles individually and team-wise last year, fans and critics are beginning to wonder what happened to the John Wall from a year ago.
In terms of stats, Wall didn't regress, but his progression was pretty small, especially considering he was by far the Wizards' first scoring option.
It's only been two seasons for Wall, but his uninspired play last year have some wondering if he really is a first-overall caliber talent, or if his rookie season was just a flash in the pan.
I caught myself thinking something similar to that during the season, but I have since come to the conclusion that this is nothing but a sophomore slump for Wall.
He isn't exactly the most versatile player and still has plenty of work to do, so calling him overrated at this point would be unfair for such a young career.
However, the NBA is not always kind to slow development, especially with the high expectations that come with being drafted first overall.
So if Wall wants to shake off some of the critics, he will have to improve on his pretty lackluster sophomore campaign.
3. Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks
The spotlight could not be much brighter for a superstar in a huge market like New York City. So far, Melo and the Knicks have not done much to live up to the expectations that come with the territory.
Even before his time in New York, Melo was often cited as being a ball-hogging offensive player, without much ability to do anything else but shoot. That reputation still follows him around, and he is often scrutinized for his selfish play.
There's nothing wrong with thinking that his one-man-army mindset is detrimental to a team's winning percentage, but it doesn't mean that Carmelo Anthony isn't a great basketball player.
Similarly to Brandon Jennings, Melo is criticized for his high volume of shots, but his scoring numbers don't lie. This means that he is more than capable of making all of the shots he takes, whether they should be taken or not.
As one of the best scorers in the NBA today, it's easy to overlook his ability since it hasn't resulted in a lot of team success, but Anthony remains among the top superstars in the league.
2. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook is one of the most criticized players in the league, due to his high-risk, high-reward playing style.
Though usually he comes through most plays with the high-reward, when he does fail, it looks especially bad on his part. A lot of his failures are spotlighted and the question that arises the most is, "Why didn't he pass it to Kevin Durant?"
This is a good question if say, Thabo Sefolosha was throwing up some bad shots, but with Russell Westbrook, some of his crazy shots can be validated.
Durant is unquestionably the star of the team and the best player in OKC, but Westbrook is also without question right behind him.
That means that when Durant is being harassed on offense with double teams, Westbrook becomes the No. 1 option and that means he should be aggressive on offense.
This can look really bad at times, when he tries to force a layup and misses, but what people often don't see is how smothered Durant is off the ball.
Westbrook's numbers have proven that he can perform well and do so consistently, but his biggest downfall for critics is what is seen as being a selfish, bitter sidekick who wants to be the star.
This is not the case for Westbrook, however, and he is not the villain he is played out to be by the media.
Instead, he is one of the best up-and-coming young stars of the NBA, who is paired with one of the best players in the league and playing for one of the best teams in the league.
Sure, his shot selection and decision-making needs work, but that can be taught and the natural talent that makes him a superstar cannot be taught.
1. Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers
As a player who is known more for his thunderous dunks and freakish athleticism than his rebounding or post defense, it's easy to find ways that he is an incomplete player.
Don't get me wrong, I agree. Blake Griffin is not a complete package as a power forward. However, I don't believe that it earns him the title of an overrated superstar.
Most people knock on his one-dimensionality and lack of ability to score from anywhere outside of five feet from the basket, but maybe he doesn't have to.
Griffin has seemed to do perfectly well number-wise by doing what he's been doing now. He is an aggressive cutter on offense who thoroughly enjoys using the pick and roll to set up his poster dunks down low.
Through simple plays like this, Griffin has managed to post All-Star level numbers, doing so with style.
Just because he is a different mold of player, doesn't mean he isn't as good as his numbers make them out to be.
Griffin's overrated title is usually a result of his inability to hit jumpers or free throws, and his limited contributions on defense. But the way I see it, what he is doing works for him and his team, so that makes him rated just right.