In one of the best games of the NBA season so far, the third highest-paid guy on the court was invisible. Luol Deng was a total non-factor in last night’s Bulls/Jazz thriller, playing 13 minutes off the bench and collecting more turnovers (three) than points (two). Granted, Deng was coming off a hamstring injury, but even before he got hurt, he was hardly living up to the $72 million deal Chicago signed him to over the summer.
During the game, the Dime crew was back-and-forth e-mailing about Deng’s place amongst the League’s most overrated players. It’s a list that changes constantly, but as of today, here’s who we’ve got as the 10 most overrated players in the NBA:
(Note: We’re fully aware that the whole overrated/underrated thing is never a player’s fault, but that of the fans and media. We’re the ones who put a player on a pedestal or under a rock, and when he exceeds — or falls short of — the expectations we said, he falls into the overrated/underrated pool. That said…)
1. Mike Bibby — Still living off his reputation from the ’02 playoffs. Think about it: every Hawks game you’ll hear about how clutch Bibby is, but how many big-time shots have you seen him hit in the last five years?
2. Luol Deng — Again, one great playoff series (in ’07), and Deng hasn’t been nearly as good since.
3. Andrew Bynum — Does he have a chance to be a great center in this League? Absolutely. The skills are there, the physical tools are there, but everyone needs to chill out for a minute. Bynum’s mere presence alone does not guarantee the Lakers would have won it all last year. But one good half-season, and the die-hard L.A. fans wanna retire his number 17.
4. Ray Felton — When D.J. Augustin is about to take your job, it’s time to acknowledge you’re a full two notches below CP and Deron, maybe more.
5. Rodney Stuckey — Classic case where it’s not his fault, but so much was put on Stuckey’s shoulders after his ’08 postseason breakout that his early-season struggles have really stood out.
6. Richard Jefferson — They don’t seem to miss him much in New Jersey, do they? Another guy who owes Jason Kidd a lot of money.
7. David Lee — With our offices in New York, over the last two years we haven’t gone two days without hearing the ridiculous statement that Lee is the Knicks’ best player. And this dates back to when Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph were on the roster, when Eddy Curry was in reasonably good shape, and Stephon Marbury was actually playing. Maybe it’s true now after the LeBron fire sale.
8. Rashard Lewis — The reason why Hedo Turkoglu won’t be in Orlando next year. If Rashard is getting $100 million-plus to be the third banana, why would Hedo accept anything less?
9. Andre Iguodala — Exciting? Yes. Has potential? Yes. A legit star? Not yet.
10. Daniel Gibson — That jump shot is textbook, but when it’s not falling, he’s pretty much useless.