Ranking the NBA's 10 Most Overrated Superstars Heading into 2012-13

Bryant Knox@@BryantKnoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2012

Ranking the NBA's 10 Most Overrated Superstars Heading into 2012-13

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    The NBA is practically the definition of a star-driven league, but the question is, how many of these so-called superstars have been vastly overrated?

    Heading into the 2012-13 season, we all have a decent idea as to which players are considered stars and which ones aren’t. Some of them have earned such high praise, while others simply don’t deserve it at this point in their careers.

    While there are no set guidelines that define stardom, some players have utilized their polarizing natures to grab headlines game in and game out.

    Attention is fine for the league’s best players, but it’s important to remember that not every superstar is as great as advertised.

Russell Westbrook

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    Russell Westbrook has quickly become one of the game’s best young point guards. He can score, he can attack the rim and he is slowly becoming a bit of a stat-sheet stuffer in today’s NBA.

    The problem is, he often forgets that he’s a point guard and that he has arguably the league’s best sorer in Kevin Durant by his side.

    In the past two seasons, we’ve seen Westbrook’s point-per-game average increase to 23.6—a solid mark. However, when his points began to climb, his assists and his decision-making took a significant hit.

    His pure point rating is 63rd out of 70 point guards, and he is often too aggressive on both ends of the floor to be efficient.

    In Westbrook’s case—like many of the stars on this list—being overrated doesn’t mean he’s not a star player; it simply means that the praise at this point is too high, and that he has a lot to work on if he’s going to reach his true potential. 

Monta Ellis

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    Opinions may vary on Monta Ellis' star credentials, but tell that to the Golden State Warriors fans who openly protested his trade in the middle of Chris Mullin’s jersey ceremony.

    The undersized shooting guard has averaged an impressive 19.5 points per game over his seven-year career, but his numbers have seen a decline since the days of him averaging 25.5 points in the 2009-10 season.

    His physical attributes and his skill set are both in his favor, but poor decision-making and inconsistent effort creates one of the more perplexing star reputations in the entire NBA.

    Ellis has shown he can be a dominant scorer, but someone might want to remind fans in the Bay Area just how far they got with a player who was a great scorer; not a great player.

Luol Deng

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    Luol Deng officially became an All-Star in 2012, but the hype surrounding his selection may have done him a disservice when it came to his NBA reputation.

    At 27 years old, the 6’9” forward is ideally just entering his prime. He averaged 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 2012, as his athleticism makes him an impact player on the defensive side of the floor.

    Deng’s All-Star selection will lead some to believe that his ceiling has grown as of late, but that will only set him up for an "off season" as his PER was a career-low 14.3 and he had just as much difficulty creating his own shot as he has in the past.

    When Deng is called upon this season to be a No. 1 option, it should become clear that he is a solid player who simply can’t take over at will.

Amar’e Stoudemire

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    Amar’e Stoudemire dropped off significantly in 2012, and it all climaxed when he was held out of a postseason game with a self-inflicted hand injury.

    The big man shot a career-low percentage from the field in 2012, and he ranked 67th out of 70 players at his position in the pure point rating.

    Stoudemire isn’t too far removed from nearly averaging a career high in points in 2011, but it’s important to note that his efficiency declined as a result of taking 19 shots per game for the first time in his career.

    Defensively, Stoudemire is still a liability, and at 29 years old, it’s difficult to imagine him improving at this point.

    Last season was a particularly bad showing for Stoudemire following the lockout, with the loss of his brother and ongoing media scrutiny, so it will be interesting to see if he can return to his old form in 2013.

Danny Granger

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    Between 2008 and 2010, Danny Granger averaged nearly 25 points per game to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 38.3 percent three-point shooting.

    Unfortunately for the 29-year-old forward, he’s never stuffed a stat sheet well enough to make up for the other seasons where his point production dipped under 20 per contest.

    It's safe to say at this point that Granger's game is isolation-based, and that’s unfortunate for his teammates who watch him run down the clock without looking their way.

    He hits a fair share of his shots from long distance, but nobody will ever claim him to be the kind of presence who makes his teammates much better.

    Granger has just one All-Star appearance under his belt, and those who claim him to be one of the league’s true superstars are living in the past.

Kevin Love

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    Kevin Love may put up some of the best numbers that the NBA has seen in recent memory, but you have to really break down his impact before you decide just how great he is.

    The 24-year-old has become somewhat of a statistical anomaly at this point in his career. In 2012, he averaged 26 points, 13.3 rebounds and shot 37.2 percent from behind the three-point line, all while racking up an impressive PER of 25.41—he also led the league in double-doubles.

    So what’s not to love? It appears that the biggest gripe about the big man is his lack of winning experience, but another issue is the inflated system in which he plays.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves play in the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA, and with the team attempting the sixth most three-pointers in the league, they create for hurried situations with long rebounds and shooting opportunities.

    Not everyone is capable of putting up Love-like numbers, but for a player who can’t defend and can’t get his teammates involved, it would be a true test to see how he performed in a slow-it-down style.

Joe Johnson

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    Joe Johnson has been a No. 1 option since his arrival with the Atlanta Hawks, but a new roster in a new city could expose the 2-guard as more of a complementary player to Deron Williams—and maybe even a healthy Brook Lopez—in 2013.

    The truth is, Johnson is the kind of player who can score without trying. The problem? Often it appears he’s doing just that—not trying.

    The 6’7” guard doesn’t always appear to have his head in the game, and his motor has been questioned in the past. He can score in bunches, but with a third of his attempts coming from the three-point line in 2012, his aggressiveness isn’t what you’d like to see out of an isolation player.

    Being overpaid and overrated are two different things, but with the ball no longer always in his hands, we just might find that both apply in Johnson’s case.

Blake Griffin

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    The NBA has transitioned to a day and age where jaw-dropping highlights are what fans covet; not the fundamentally sound precision of the game’s most efficient players.

    Aside from his electrifying throwdowns, the 23-year-old is somewhat limited on offense. His shot is improving, and his ball handling is good for a player of his size, but how many sets can the Clippers truly run for him at this point?

    Defensively, Griffin is still a liability. His motor is solid and his willingness to fly around the floor is unmatched, but his lack of production—and willingness to flop—is bizarre for a player of his athletic abilities.

    The potential for stardom is there, but to deem him the best at his position isn’t fair to the game’s most elite power forwards.

Andrew Bynum

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    Andrew Bynum had his best season to date in 2012, but the question is, does he really deserve to be considered a threat to Dwight Howard’s title of Best Center in the NBA?

    Having averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, it’s easy to claim that he is the second-best center in the league. Howard, however, has one thing down that Bynum has yet to establish—consistency.

    Until last season, Bynum had been a bit of a project, and while his post moves are arguably better than Howard’s, he needs another great season to prove we can trust him.

    If Bynum can come out in 2013 and play the same brand of healthy, inspired basketball, he’ll deserve the praise that’s been thrown his way.

    Until then, though, nobody deserves to be in the Best Center conversation unless his name is Dwight Howard. 

Carmelo Anthony

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    It’s almost cliché to pick on Carmelo Anthony at this point in his career, but it’s important to remember that if so many people are doing it, there’s probably a solid reason as to why.

    The reason here is that Anthony has been a chemistry nightmare for a good part of his career. The New York Knicks never looked better in 2012 than when Anthony was sidelined, as his career assists average screams isolation player.

    It’s true that Anthony deserves recognition for being a great scorer—especially in the post—but at what point do we simply throw defense and team involvement out the window?

    The question following the Denver Nuggets’ trade of Anthony was whether they’d be able to recover following the departure of their star?

    Team basketball and a deep roster have gotten the Nuggets back in prime position out West, while the Knicks are still struggling to stay afloat despite having one of the best pure scorers in the game.