12 Most Overrated Players in the NBA

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2012

12 Most Overrated Players in the NBA

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    The terms overrated and underrated get thrown around too much when describing NBA players, but that doesn't mean they aren't accurate descriptors in some cases. 

    Take these next 12 players, for example. 

    All 12 of them are perceived in various ways with one major similarity. They all can't live up to those perceptions, thus making them overrated. 

    Some of the players are established superstars. There's even a rookie on the list. And for those of you that are curious, LeBron James wasn't even close to making it. 

    Read on to discover who made one of the few cuts you don't want to make. 

Michael Beasley

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    Back when Michael Beasley was throwing up double-doubles on a nightly basis as a member of the Kansas State Wildcats, it seemed like a sure thing that he would blossom into a star in the NBA. That hasn't exactly been the case. 

    Beleaguered by off-court drama, Beasley has yet to live up to his full potential and has been nothing more than a scorer. He doesn't play much defense and tends to make bone-headed decisions which manifest themselves in the form of both missed shots and turnovers. 

    Beasley supposedly broke out last year when his scoring output increased to nearly 20 points per game, but his PER was actually the lowest of his career, dropping from 16.16 during his sophomore campaign to 15.54 during his third year in the NBA. 

    This season, all of Beasley's numbers have plummeted thanks to a combination of small sample size (note that this applies to all 12 of these players), injuries and ineffectiveness. Through Wednesday, Beasley's PER has dropped to 7.81, and his scoring average is the lowest it's ever been. 

Carlos Boozer

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    As long as Carlos Boozer continues to get minutes in front of Taj Gibson, he'll be overrated. 

    Boozer is currently thriving off his old reputation thanks to his glory days with the Utah Jazz.

    That reputation is allowing many basketball fans to gloss over the fact that he's just a shell of his old self at this point, and that's when he's on the court and not on the bench wearing street clothes. 

    His numbers are as low as they've been since he entered the league, although they remain a more than adequate 13.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest. 

    Thanks to his large role in the free-agency bonanza of the summer of 2010, Boozer still remains an All-Star in many minds. That simply shouldn't be the case any more. 

Kobe Bryant

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    Before the Kobe Bryant supporters flock to the comment section, let me explain that I am in no way calling the career of No. 24 overrated in any way. He's undoubtedly an all-time great, even if I am giving him a spot on this ignominious collection of players. 

    Despite the wrist injections he's getting to keep him on the court, Kobe isn't producing at the level we're all used to, even if he is maintaining his reputation as one of the league's premier players. 

    Bryant's scoring, rebounding and assist numbers may all be up from last year, but his efficiency is down significantly.

    Through Wednesday, Bryant was shooting just 41.7 percent from the field, a mark that he's exceeded every year since his rookie campaign. Yet despite this decreased accuracy, Bryant is hoisting up a ridiculous 22.3 shots per game. 

    That's a few too many, if you ask me. 

    Mike Brown is allowing Kobe to do what he wants in the Los Angeles Lakers offense, and it's a significant detriment to an incredible front court.

    A few nights ago, Kobe actually attempted more shots than Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined, yet both Bynum and Gasol made more field goals than Kobe. 

    As hard as it may be for this superstar to put aside his ego, he's going to be overrated until he does so. 

Norris Cole

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    If you'd told me that I would be calling Norris Cole overrated just a few weeks into the NBA season, I would have thought you were crazy. Then again, sometimes I forget just how hard it is to stop the uninformed bandwagon from rolling along once it starts. 

    After Cole's late-game heroics for the Miami Heat at the beginning of the season, everyone was ready to declare this Cleveland State alumnus the greatest thing since sliced bread. This was despite the fact that almost no one had even heard of the guy before the Heat drafted him.

    As someone who closely follows NBA prospects from the beginning of their collegiate careers (if not earlier) until they shake David Stern's hand after hearing their name called, I can tell you that I loved Cole while he was still a Viking.

    I called him one of the more underrated players over and over again as he slowly crept up draft boards into his eventual position. 

    I love the guy, but I also recognize his limitations. Cole is not going to immediately become a player good enough to make it a Big Four in South Beach. He's not going to be an All-Star during his rookie season. He's not even going to be the Rookie of the Year. 

    Yet more people than I would have believed possible were ready to claim all these things after a ridiculously small sample size. 

    The amazing part was that Cole wasn't even that impressive. A week into the season, after Cole had "broken out," his PER was actually in the single digits, making him a player who was below average if anything. It's amazing what a few SportsCenter highlights can do. 

    He's currently shooting an unsustainable 47.8 percent from the field after posting field-goal percentages of 38.0, 45.3, 43.2 and 43.9 percent (in that order) during his collegiate days.

    Plus, he's turning the ball over way too often, with 2.4 turnovers per game in just 22.7 minutes of action per contest. 

    Everything adds up to a PER of 15.89 so far this season, a number that leaves him slightly above average. 

    Cole is going to be a good player in the NBA, maybe even a great one. But please, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. 

Monta Ellis

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    Monta Ellis is a confusing player. 

    He's as quick as they come in the NBA and a talented scorer who sometimes leaves you scratching your head as you wonder about his shot selection. With great hands, he could be special on defense. But that would involve, you know, trying. 

    When I think about Ellis, the first thing I think about is the glamour of scoring. Points are the easiest things for casual fans to both follow and understand, so it makes sense that they're thought very highly of almost universally. But a player is not necessarily a great player if he's a great scorer. 

    Ellis is an atrocious defender. Last season, the defensively inept Golden State Warriors actually allowed 6.88 points per 100 possessions more with the shooting guard on the court than when he was off it.

    This was due to his tendency to go into matador mode and usher offensive players towards the basket as he gambles on an ill-advised steal attempt. 

    I'm perfectly comfortable saying that Ellis is a very good, very valuable basketball player. I'm not comfortable saying that he's an All-Star caliber guard, as some people like to do. 

Tyreke Evans

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    Averaging 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game as a rookie is an astounding achievement. Only Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tyreke Evans have done so. 

    But unlike the other three players listed above, Evans may actually end up hurt by his prowess as a first-year player in The Association. An injury-plagued second season was a huge disappointment and his third is starting to make his first campaign look even more like an outlier.

    Those three numbers--twenty, five and five--may start to become an albatross hanging around the neck of the point guard as he speeds up and down the court. 

    Evans is a bit of a basketball black hole, much like quite a few other members of the Sacramento Kings. When he decides he wants to shoot, well, he's going to shoot. 

    This season, Evans' PER is down from 14.46 last season to 13.4 this year. Although the sample size is clearly very small, there haven't been too many indications that it's going to change for the better. 

Landry Fields

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    Landry Fields is a terrific rebounding guard, but that's really about it. And now that Tyson Chandler has joined Fields, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire for the New York Knicks, those precious boards are going to be even harder to come by. 

    Fields shot effectively in very low volume last season, but his accuracy is likely going to regress to his collegiate level. 

    Because of his fast start out of the gates as a rookie, New York fell in love with this young player from Stanford. They weren't even willing to part with him in the Melo sweepstakes and quickly regretted it as Fields ran into the rookie wall and just collapsed.

    Some rookies hit the wall and power through at a slower rate. Fields hit it and just shattered. 

    For all the hype that he received last year, Fields was actually a below-average player, according to his 13.51 PER. His 11.12 mark so far this season isn't doing much to dispel that train of thought. 

Joe Johnson

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    When your contract is worth $119 million and you're not named LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose, you're overrated. 

    That is all. 

DeAndre Jordan

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    In all the excitement that accompanied Chris Paul's arrival in the newly-minted Lob City, the fact that DeAndre Jordan is a very limited basketball player got lost in the shuffle. 

    Jordan has wowed crowds, ESPN viewers and YouTube aficionados with his penchant for the rim-rattling alley-oop, but that's one of the few things that he does particularly well on the basketball court. Blocking shots is his only other above-average skill. 

    The big man can't shoot from outside the paint. He's a historically putrid shooter from the charity stripe. He doesn't even stay focused throughout the game and sometimes wastes the physical tools he was blessed with. 

    But he can throw down. 

Lamar Odom

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    Lamar Odom has been arguably the worst consistent member of a rotation in the entire NBA so far this season. His 5.1 PER is a testament to that. 

    Odom isn't this bad. There's no way that he declined that much following the unexpected trade to the Dallas Mavericks. 

    But even so, he's no longer the do-everything Sixth Man of the Year candidate that he was during his prime. At 32 years of age and with 12 years of NBA experience under his belt, it's only natural that Odom is starting to wear down a little bit. 

    Perhaps if people lowered their expectations, he might be able to live up to them. 

Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Amar'e Stoudemire is a magnificent scorer, arguably the best at his position in that regard throughout the entire NBA. 

    But he has two major limitations. 

    The first is his health. Injuries, specifically ones that deal with his rapidly degenerating knees, keep him off the court too often for him to live up to his perception. 

    The second is his lack of defensive ability. Amar'e, if you're reading this, defensive ability means your skill when it comes to stopping the other team from scoring.

    I just wanted to make sure you knew what that term meant. 

Russell Westbrook

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    I've always been a fan of Russell Westbrook, thanks to his otherworldly athletic abilities at the point guard position. He has all the talent in the world and is a deserving All-Star candidate.

    But as a basketball player (not an athlete), he'll be overrated until he gets the right mentality. 

    Westbrook thinks of himself as a second Batman to Kevin Durant's Batman. He needs to realize that he's a vastly improved version of Robin, one who may play as well as Durant on any given night but won't receive the just amount of credit. 

    When you have the best scorer in the NBA on your team and your job, first and foremost, is to distribute the basketball in efficient fashion, don't pull up for an ill-advised jump shot just four seconds into the shot clock. 

    Once Westbrook takes those messages to heart, he could be a top 10 player in the league. Until then, he's the 12th of the overrated players on this list.