Biggest Misconceptions Surrounding NBA Superstars

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIMarch 1, 2013

Biggest Misconceptions Surrounding NBA Superstars

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    From Twitter to technical fouls, some of the misconceptions surrounding the NBA's best relate to how each performs on the court, while others address the personality we associate with each player off it. 

    These misconceptions highlight perceived production related to the 2012-13 season specifically, along with running dialogues that have been discussed over the last few seasons.

    While this list may not include every superstar in the NBA, it does highlight a collection of the most notable stars and provide an argument for why we shouldn't always believe what we hear.

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    He is just a volume scorer.

    The 28.6 points that Carmelo Anthony is averaging this season currently rank first overall in the NBA. 

    But with Anthony's propensity to score headlines with the individual work he's putting in this season for the New York Knicks, what's often overlooked is how respectably efficient he's been in the process.

    The 44.1 percent that Anthony is shooting from the floor has hovered around the league-average metric of 45.1 percent.

    That shooting percentage also currently ranks Anthony 12th in the NBA among all small forwards.

    In terms of player efficiency rating, Anthony is grading out as the 11th-most efficient player in the league as well.

    There's no denying Anthony is a volume scorer, but "efficient" isn't an adjective we attach to that label often.

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    He never gets angry.

    Kevin Durant is one of the nicest guys in the NBA. The misconception that exists as a result, however, is that Durant is always polite and never gets upset on the basketball court.

    That much, at least as far as NBA officials are concerned, couldn't be further from the truth this season. 

    Despite his genuinely affable persona, Durant is currently among the league leaders in technical fouls.

    Just behind Kobe Bryant, Durant has accumulated 12 technical fouls this season while also earning one ejection, placing him second in the league in this dubious category. 

    According to league rules, a player receives an automatic one-game suspension when he reaches 16 technical fouls on the season.

    Even if that player is as nice as Durant.

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    He has been a colossal bust in Los Angeles this season.

    The Los Angeles Lakers have won six of their last 10 games and currently sit just one game below .500 (29-30) heading into the weekend. 

    That wasn't supposed to be the case when Dwight Howard was acquired this summer to star alongside Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. 

    But while Howard's scoring average is the lowest it's been since 2006—and his rebounding the lowest since '05—he doesn't necessarily deserve as much blame for the Lakers' struggles as some have suggested. 

    The 11.9 rebounds Howard is collecting on a nightly basis still lead the NBA. The 2.3 blocks he's averaging are good for fifth in the league as well, and his field-goal percentage of 58.3 ranks fourth.

    All of which would certainly be highlighted more often if the Lakers were winning the way they were expected to.

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    His game is currently on the decline.

    Dating back to the 2008-09 campaign, Dwyane Wade had finished each season ranked second, second, third and third, respectively, in terms of player efficiency rating heading into this year.

    At a PER of 24.42, Wade currently ranks fifth.

    While I suppose this does represent a slight dip in efficiency, it is certainly not indicative of a player with diminishing skills.

    Additionally, despite a scoring average of 21.5 points (the lowest output since his rookie season), Wade is also shooting a career-high 51.7 percent from the field in 2012-13 as well.

    So while he might not be the high-flying finisher he was a few seasons ago, Wade is more than meeting the superstar expectations he's earned on a nightly basis.

    Even if he did just celebrate his 31st birthday.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    He lacks a sense of humor and personality.

    Ever since he entered the NBA, I've always appreciated Kobe Bryant the basketball player.

    I never realized until this season, however, just how engaging and funny Bryant can be off the court at the same time.

    That misconception changed—for me, at least—soon after Bryant logged onto Twitter.

    At least lil @cp3 and baby Mamba can play together NBA can't veto this one Ha!…

    — Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) February 17, 2013

    He's posted a number of gems already—far too many to highlight here—but this update from All-Star weekend referencing the trade that almost sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers made me laugh especially hard.

    I've come to count on Kobe for comic relief now as a result, presumably like many of the 1.5 million other people who are following along do too.

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    He's not a Hall of Fame-caliber point guard.

    Tony Parker is the most underrated point guard of his era.

    While sharing the limelight in San Antonio alongside Spurs teammates Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, he's never truly received the credit he deserves on a national level for all the winning he's done since he first broke into the league.

    In his 12th NBA season this year, Parker's resume includes the following: NBA Finals MVP, three-time NBA champion and five-time All-Star.

    At 30 years old, Parker has established himself among the top five candidates most likely to win this year's MVP trophy as well.

    The 21 points and 7.6 assists that Parker's averaging in 2012-13 are improvements over the 16.8 points and 5.9 assists he's averaged over the previous 11 seasons.

    When he does eventually retire, Parker will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer—though I'm not sure he's always been appreciated as such throughout his prolific career.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    He's a selfish teammate with whom the Oklahoma City Thunder can't win big.

    The overwhelmingly competitive fire with which Russell Westbrook takes the NBA floor has led some to proclaim that he's a selfish player.

    To watch him work on a nightly basis, however, that couldn't be further from the truth.

    Despite helping his Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals last season, this misconception about Westbrook seemed to be popularized along the way.

    While he's not without his share of overaggressive nights shooting the basketball—and he has seen his field-goal percentage dip this season to 43.4 percent—Westbrook is the fifth-leading facilitator in the league with 7.8 assists.

    After trading James Harden to begin the year, Westbrook is also currently helping Kevin Durant and the Thunder win games at a higher rate (.724) this season than they did during the 2011-12 campaign (.712).

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Chris Paul can't lead his team to an NBA title because he's a point guard.

    Isiah Thomas was the last point guard to lead his team in scoring en route to an NBA championship.

    While Chris Paul's 16.2 points per night do not technically lead the Los Angeles Clippers in that category this season, he is—like Thomas was before him—unquestionably his team's preeminent superstar. 

    But while the recent NBA championships have been dominated by centers, forwards and shooting guards, Chris Paul is a superstar point guard with the best chance to lead his team to a title since Zeke.

    As the league's leader in steals at 2.43 per night, as well as the active leader in assists at 9.6 per game, Paul inspires his team on both ends of the floor.

    Whether his Clippers have enough to shock the world this summer remains to be seen, but CP3 is certainly capable of destroying the misconception that point guards can't win big.

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

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    There is something wrong with KG not wanting to be friends with the other team.

    Kevin Garnett is the last of a dying breed of NBA players who considers the opposing team to be his enemy each time he steps onto the floor.

    There seems to be a growing sentiment that—in the case of Garnett specifically—suggests there's something wrong with this mentality.

    Despite the mean mugs, angry faces and occasional dirty play that's certainly uncalled for, I find Garnett's overall win-at-all-costs approach to be refreshing these days.

    I'm for friendship and camaraderie as much as the next guy, and I don't necessarily fault the players who do hug it up postgame. At the same time, though, I don't have a problem with Garnett's competitive fire.

LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    His teammates were holding him back in the past.

    Starting lineups that include Sasha Pavlovic and Drew Gooden shouldn't necessarily win an NBA championship.

    So, I'm not suggesting that LeBron James should've actually won the NBA Finals in 2007 while playing alongside those two guys while with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    What I am saying, though, is that James is having one of the best seasons in NBA history right now because he is no longer holding himself back from everything he's capable of doing on the basketball court. 

    Now that he's won his first NBA championship, James is playing without the burden and fear of never having won that elusive title.

    As a result, he is playing better than he ever has before in his life.

    The reason he's accomplishing all this has more to do with the new mentality he has and less to do with the fact that Pavlovic and Gooden have since been replaced by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.