The 50 Most Overrated "Stars" in NBA History

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJanuary 19, 2011

The 50 Most Overrated "Stars" in NBA History

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    There have been some great players in the history of the NBA.

    Unfortunately, with fame comes expectations, and failing to live up to these expectations is the definition of being overrated.

    Most of the players on this list I consider to be solid players, if not great players, but that doesn't mean they weren't overrated.

    Championships and performances during the playoffs were big in my eyes, and the general ability of a player beyond all their stats.

    Some great players were knocked for not winning a championship, as others were knocked for winning a championship, but not deserving the credit they ultimately received.

    It's important to keep in mind this is a list of overrated players due to the expectations and hype that surrounded them.

    I am not, repeat not, saying they were necessarily bad players.

    So, without further ado, here are my top 50 overrated NBA players of all time.

50. Darko Milicic

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    I debated whether to put Darko on here, given he isn't really rated that highly anyway, but he was a former No. 2 pick and he continues to be given chances at the NBA level despite being highly disappointing.

    He's never averaged more than 25 minutes per game with any team and the 7-footer is averaging 5.4 rebounds per game with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

49. Glenn Robinson

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    Forward Glenn Robinson was considered a top scorer when he played in the NBA, but it took a move to the San Antonio Spurs for him to capture an NBA championship in his last year in 2005.

    He was known to be a three-point threat, but he shot at a 34 percent clip from long distance for his career.

    Still a good player, but not deserving of the grandiose cascaded on him.

48. Yao Ming

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    It's hard for me to put center Yao Ming on this list, given that he has been a dominant player when he's healthy.

    But he hasn't been healthy much and we have seen the last of him after this season.

    Given his height, his rebounding numbers never really impressed me, either.

47. Erick Dampier

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    Since being picked No. 10 in the 1996 NBA Draft, there is absolutely nothing center Erick Dampier has done to merit any attention from the rest of the league.

    Yet he found himself on two top teams in the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat after the Golden State Warriors realized he was never going to live up to his potential after seven dismal seasons.

    Why this guy is looked at by top teams I have no idea, other than the fact he's a big body who can fill the middle.

46. Richard Jefferson

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    San Antonio Spurs forward Richard Jefferson hit the jackpot when he was acquired by the Spurs before the 2009-2010 season.

    He's a scorer first and foremost, and he doesn't add enough in the other aspects of the game to be considered a top player.

45. Jason Williams

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    Point guard Jason Williams exploded on the scene with the Sacramento Kings in 1998.

    His no-look passes and flashy style was fun to watch.

    Unfortunately, the Kings got tired of this flash and wanted more solid play, as his turnovers were through the roof.

    Williams has learned to limit his turnovers and has learned the game a bit more, but he's also always been a horrendous shooter who is questionable on defense.

44. David Lee

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    David Lee was supposed to be the Golden State Warriors' savior when he signed a lucrative deal to come to Oakland this season.

    He's a big-time rebounder and he can score, but his defense has never improved and he can't block shots at all.

    He's got heart, so I hate to put him on this list, but he's not a complete player.

43. Antonio McDyess

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    Sure, injuries have limited forward Antonio McDyess, but the fact is he’s only had two solid rebounding seasons in his career, yet he is still mentioned as a top big body.

    Ever since his sixth season, he hasn’t been a blocker either.

    Since he’s come to a top team in the San Antonio Spurs, he’s averaged 21 and 16 minutes in his last two seasons respectively.

42. Shane Battier

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    Sure, forward Shane Battier does all the little things, but the acclaim he receives is unprecedented by a role player.

    Despite being called a "winner," he's never won a championship.

41. Hedo Turkoglu

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    Hedo Turkoglu's a top three-point shooter, but besides that, I don't see anything in his game that warrants the attention that he gets.

    He's a career 42 percent shooter from the field and he hasn't won a championship yet, despite being on the San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic.

40. Trevor Ariza

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    Forward Trevor Ariza does a lot of little things on the floor, but his single performance in the 2009 playoffs elevated him to ridiculous levels in the public eye.

    He's a career 43 percent shooter, is a horrible free throw shooter, and takes way too many three-pointers for his own good, especially when he's shot 31 percent for his career.

39. Elton Brand

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    I like power forward Elton Brand's game a lot, but at some point you've got to dock him for not winning a championship.

    In his 11 years in the league, he's only been to the playoffs once, despite being on three different teams.

    If he doesn't watch out, he could become the next Karl Malone.

38. Andrei Kirilenko

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    Despite making his way back and forth between coach Jerry Sloan’s doghouse and regular playing time, forward Andrei Kirilenko still maintains “solid player” status.

    He had three big years from 2003 to 2006 and has never been able to capture that magic again.

    He’s also a terrible rebounder for having his height and athleticism.

37. Rashard Lewis

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    Forward Rashard Lewis is a decent player with a nice touch from the floor, but he’s not as good a rebounder as he could be with his athleticism and height.

    Like Turkoglu, Lewis was never able to able to make it work with the Orlando Magic, or with Seattle for that matter.

36. Mark Jackson

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    Guard Mark Jackson never won a championship, despite going to the playoffs a whopping 14 times.

    He was constantly spotlighted due to being in the playoffs all the time, but wasn't ever a top player.

    He was solely a distributor on the floor and coughed up the ball way too much.

35. Christian Laettner

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    A top player in college, forward Christian Laettner never did become a star in the NBA.

    His career averages of 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds were mediocre at best, and he never won a championship.

34. Mike Bibby

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    Guard Mike Bibby, despite being a solid player, is not the superstar people have made him out to be throughout his career.

    He’s sporadic, he has turned the ball over too much through out most of his career, and he hasn’t been able to win a championship despite being on talented teams in the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks.

33. Ben Gordon

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    The reason guard Ben Gordon finds himself as an ideal sixth-man is because he's an extremely streaky shooter.

    He can win the game for you and lose it just as fast.

    He's a top three-point shooter, but his overall shooting percentage ebbs and flows as much as the Pacific Ocean.

    He also isn't the greatest ball-handler, which is why he's best fitted coming off screens for quick shots.

32. Jermaine O'Neal

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    Center Jermaine O’Neal is fairly irrelevant these days, but earlier in his career he was considered a top talent, being named an All-Star six times.

    But, he’s never won on the big stage and he was only a solid rebounder for a few years before falling off.

    Speaking of the big stage, O’Neal was worse when it mattered, with averages of 12.7 points and seven rebounds while shooting 41 percent in 81 career playoff games.

31. Stephen Jackson

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    Guard Stephen Jackson is a very sporadic and streaky player.

    When he's on, he looks like a legit starting guard in the NBA.

    When he's off, he can destroy a team.

    Not to mention he's a career 41 percent shooter and has been known to implode when things aren't going well for him.

30. Baron Davis

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    Baron Davis and teammate Stephen Jackson made national news in the 2007 playoffs when the No. 8 Golden State Warriors shocked the No. 1 Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the playoffs.

    But like Jackson, he’s a very streaky shooter and can suffer from mental lapses at times.

    He’s also a 40 percent career shooter, and 31 percent three-point shooter. Despite all of this, he has always shot at an alarming rate.

29. Chris Webber

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    Chris Webber had solid numbers across the board during his career, but ever since calling an ill-advised timeout and effectively losing the game for the Michigan Wolverines in 1993, he’s always been labeled a choke artist.

    He’s never won a championship despite some prime opportunities with the Sacramento Kings.

28. Byron Scott

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    Byron Scott was a top shooter when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers and won three NBA championships.

    But he was also lauded as if he more than a shooter, which he wasn't.

    He wasn't much of a rebounder and was thrust into the spotlight because he played for the Lakers.

    A solid player, but not deserving of the overwhelming accreditation he reaped.

27. Allan Houston

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    New York Knicks guard Allan Houston was purely a shooter and despite some lucky bounces in the playoffs, was never a top shooter in the league.

    His 44 percent shooting percentage is solid for a guard (40 percent from long distance), but he was lauded as Reggie Miller-esque at times, which was simply untrue.

26. Lamar Odom

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    Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom is an asset any team would like to have, a lanky, athletic point-forward who can still rebound at a high rate.

    But he's not one of the top players in the league.

    He's won two championships with the Lakers, but he's also been limited by coach Phil Jackson at times for good reason—he's on a extremely talented team and his talent doesn't match up.

25. Karl Malone

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    OK, it's time.

    I was wondering where I'd put Hall of Fame Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone on this list, and here he is.

    The biggest knock on "The Mailman" is he never delivered a championship despite being paired up with the great John Stockton, not to mention a wealth of solid role players.

    This, on top of the fact that he's been compared to some of the greats to ever play the game, garners him a spot on this list.

    Many people actually have him as one of the most overrated of all time, but you can't deny his level of play throughout his career.

    That keeps him from being placed within the top 25.

24. Larry Johnson

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    Longtime New York Knick Larry Johnson was an above-average rebounder for his height, and a solid scorer.

    But it was a couple performances in the playoffs that garnered him unbelievable nationwide buzz, no more than in New York.

    But he was only a two-time All-Star in his career and never won a championship.

    His recognition should have been nowhere near what it was.

23. Kenny Smith

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    Point guard Kenny Smith never had an elite season, and his play in the playoffs was average.

    But his two championships alongside the great Hakeem Olajuwon made him a household name.

    A good player during his career, but nowhere near as buzzworthy as he was made out to be.

22. Ron Harper

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    Guard Ron Harper was a bit player on some outstanding teams, including the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.

    For his benchwork, he was granted five championships rings.

    He was worthy of these championships as a role player, but the considerable honorable mention of him was completely unwarranted.

    He was also a bad three-point shooter, shooting at under 29 percent for his career, but was recognized as a top shooter off the bench.

21. Chris Bosh

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    Forward Chris Bosh is a solid player, but when he, LeBron James, and Dwayne Wade teamed up before the season on the Miami Heat, the pairing was called "The Big Three."

    To even mention Bosh in the same stratosphere as James and Wade is ludicrous, and some began to take notice, instead calling it "The Big Two."

    Bosh has also never been much of a blocker for having the size and athleticism he has, and has been to the playoffs only twice in his seven years in the league.

20. John Starks

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    John Starks, the enigmatic New York Knicks shooting guard, made plenty of appearances in the playoffs on a good overall team.

    But the recognition he garnered ballooned in a way that only New York could create.

    His shooting percentage, in the regular season and the playoffs, was consistently in the low 40s and he never won a championship.

19. Dan Majerle

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    Guard-forward Dan Majerle found himself on a slew of talented teams in his career, going to the playoffs 13 times.

    But he shot 43 percent in the regular season and 41 percent in the playoffs.

    And yet he was considered a top shooter.

    He wasn't much of a rebounder either for his size.

    In all of his playoff appearances, he never won a championship.

18. Peja Stojakovic

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    When forward Peja Stojakovic was with the Sacramento Kings early in his career, there was a time when he was being called one of the best pure shooters ever.

    But after a few years of playing out of his mind, something happened.

    Stojakovic dropped off dramatically.

    Teams still are trying to find that magic in a bottle since.

    To call him one of the best pure shooters ever, or even today, would be ludicrous now.

17. Ron Artest

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    Forward Ron Artest has been lauded for his gritty defense, and to some degree he deserves to be.

    But to call him one of the top defenders ever is not accurate and I find it highly overblown.

    He's shot 42 percent for his career, less than 41 percent with the Los Angeles Lakers, and with his frame should be a much better rebounder.

    He was no doubt a solid contributor for the Lakers when they won their championship last year, but Artest gets way too much credit for it.

16. Kenyon Martin

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    Forward Kenyon Martin was instantly labeled an All-Star (and granted an All-Star appearance) when he played for the New Jersey Nets alongside point guard Jason Kidd.

    But he was never the same player when he left Kidd and the Nets, as it became apparent most of his points came from the passing prowess of Kidd.

    He contributes in multiple aspects of the game, which makes him a valuable player, but he's never been as good a rebounder as he should be and has never been able to establish himself as a top player without the help of Kidd.

15. Charles Barkley

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    Forward Charles Barkley was a great player, there's no doubt about that with 11 All-Star selections.

    But to be compared to some of the greats is not accurate.

    He never was able to win a championship with three different teams, and that has to fall on him.

    If he truly was one of the greats, he would have found a way to win an NBA title once during his 13 trips to the playoffs.

14. Tracy McGrady

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    Guard Tracy McGrady has had some truly memorable performances, but, like Barkley and Malone, has never won a championship.

    Without at least one championship you can laud his stats all you want, but he's still not a winner.

13. Vince Carter

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    There was a time that Vince Carter was being compared to Michael Jordan given his leaping ability.

    But he's not the leader Jordan was (or the player), and he simply can't even be called one of the greats, especially because when he's been given a chance to shine in the playoffs, he's shot a dismal 41 percent from the field.

    Nearing the end of his career, Carter will probably never win a championship.

12. Steve Nash

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    Considered one of the best pure point guards in the history of the game, Steve Nash deserves every bit of it on the offensive side of the ball.

    But he can't be called one of the greats all-around because he's a terrible defender.

    Teammates have to constantly help him, and if it wasn't for his offensive prowess, the Phoenix Suns would lose constantly.

    He has yet to win a championship in his 14-year career.

11. Kevin McHale

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    Kevin McHale was an important player for the Boston Celtics when he won three championships with the team.

    But for his career he averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds.

    He shouldn't be called one of the legends and he was fortunate to have a teammate named Larry Bird.

    Still a solid player, but nowhere near the legendary tab people place on him.

10. Bill Laimbeer

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    Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer benefited from the era he played in probably more than anybody.

    He was constantly called a dirty player, which was fine by league rules. It was his physical defense that was part of the Pistons' "bad boy" image.

    He was lauded for his toughness and rebounding ability, but he wasn't a legend as some people suggest.

    With the rules today, he wouldn't have been able to get away with that.

    Laimbeer had a few big years for the Pistons, but for his career he averaged 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds in over 31 minutes per game.

9. Patrick Ewing

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    Despite 11 All-Star appearances, New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing was never able to get past Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls, or win a championship at any point of his career for that matter.

    Despite numerous "guarantees" during the playoffs, Ewing was never able to get the Knicks over the hump.

    The New York media blew him up (for good reason), but he was never able to live up to the hype and deliver a championship to the city, which sadly, is the only thing that would have allowed him to shed the overrated tag.

8. Robert Horry

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    "Big Shot Rob" made a living on his nickname.

    There's no denying he made some huge shots during the playoffs in his career.

    But he averaged under 25 minutes per game and was a role player by definition.

    People also forget that despite some big shots in the playoffs, Horry shot 42 percent in the playoffs and averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds.

    His big-time shots catapulted him to a galactic level.

    Horry had the privilege of playing with Hakeem Olajuwon's Houston Rockets, Shaq and Kobe's Los Angeles Lakers, and the San Antonio Spurs.

7. Derek Fisher

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    Point guard Derek Fisher is a true professional and his knowledge of the game has placed him on Phil Jackson's Los Angeles Lakers and Jerry Sloan's Utah Jazz.

    He is one of the ultimate complements on the floor.

    But that's what he is—a complement to bigger stars.

    When you play on the Lakers, you will undoubtedly win a championship at some point, it's been demonstrated time and time again.

    But the five championships Fisher won pushed him into the stratosphere and the limelight, and his career averages of 8.9 points and 3.1 assists would have never brought him this attention.

    He's also a career 40 percent shooter.

6. Stephon Marbury

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    I hate to heap more criticism on Stephon Starbury, but he does need to be mentioned as one of the most overrated players in the history of the game.

    You look at his overall numbers and they look pretty nice.

    But Marbury could never be a leader in the NBA, and that's what a point guard has to be.

    He was a shooting guard in a point guard's body, more inclined to shoot the rock than pass it up.

    This was either selfishness or the fact that he never learned how to see the floor like a point should.

    He not only never won a championship with the Knicks, he shot 35 percent in the playoffs and was never able to step up on the big stage.

    Not to mention he was constantly bickering with coaches at a Stephen Jackson-esque level.

    He was surely talented, but never learned how to be the point guard everyone wanted him to be, or couldn't keep his head long enough to learn it.

5. Steve Francis

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    When you're nicknamed "The Franchise," you'd better deliver.

    Guard Steve Francis never did.

    He was a worse player than Marbury, but was hyped just as much.

    He made the playoffs once in his nine-year career, and was just cut by a team in Asia after he tried to continue playing basketball when the NBA didn't want him anymore.

4. Penny Hardaway

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    Penny Hardaway in his prime was an electric player, which instantly had people comparing him to Michael Jordan.

    Rating him based on these comparisons would be unfair, but he only surpassed 20 points per game three times in his career.

    He was able to elevate his level of play in the playoffs, but Hardaway never became more than a simple All-Star in what was projected to possibly be a legendary career.

    It's not fair, but Hardaway certainly never lived up to expectations.

3. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    As of now, Amar'e Stoudemire does not deserve the comparisons he has gotten.

    He is one of the top big men in the game today, but he hasn't won a championship, despite being given the chance alongside Steve Nash.

    He's not the post defender that he could be.

    When he moved to New York, he was instantly looked at as a savior despite not being one in Phoenix.

    When and if Stoudemire wins a championship, then we can start praising him. Not before.

2. Carmelo Anthony

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    Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony is one of the great players today, there's no doubt about that.

    If I had to nitpick, it's that he needs to limit his turnovers.

    But, he's a great player.

    Yet in eight seasons he hasn't been able to be the guy to lead the Nuggets to a championship, and he's shot 42 percent in the playoffs.

    Until Anthony shows he can win a championship, he will never be considered one of the greats of all time.

1. LeBron James

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    In my mind, LeBron James is the second-best player in the league today, behind only Kobe Bryant.

    But, to even be compared to some of the greats like he so freely is, he needs to win that elusive championship.

    He certainly didn't help his cause by joining the Miami Heat and not winning a championship on his own in Cleveland.

    If James wins a championship this year with the Heat, he's instantly thrust into the discussion.

    But until then, this is all hype.

    He needs to prove the hype is justified.

    You're not "The King" until you're on top of the world.