What NBA Star Is Most Overrated? Jeremy Lin vs. Carmelo Anthony vs. Blake Griffin

09.26.12 6 years ago
You’ll never find agreement on any one NBA player’s status as a superstar. For everyone piling in to see the legend up close, there will always be a non-believer in the back. John Stockton seems about as well-thought of as any legend, but somewhere in Houston, there’s a fan who can’t believe he had the audacity to hit that game-winning shot against the Rockets to send the Jazz to the ’97 NBA Finals, let alone make it. He couldn’t hit that in 99 other chances. Or, he needed Malone. Count these next three in on the side that believes Jeremy Lin, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony aren’t always cracked up as they’re made out to seem.

Some may think we’re hating by calling these three the most overrated stars in today’s NBA, but we have to call them like we seem them. It isn’t that the trio hasn’t delivered the big shots, out-of-nowhere performances and the double-doubles that make us believe. It’s that, for these three, the depth of belief falls short of how high they’ve been hyped. So, do you believe in us when we argue that these three are overrated?

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That’s the one word that instantly disses any player. From the superstar down to the 12th man, being called or labeled as overrated is the worst adjective in the NBA — it doesn’t matter how many zeroes their paycheck reads.

Yet, the term overrated is misinterpreted too often. Personally, it’s supposed to be when a player doesn’t perform to expectations based on their own talent and relative to appropriate comparisons. These expectations include both personal and external declarations. And social media has now only amplified the current state of who’s overrated in sports.

The most recent hooper that should face the overrated outcry as strong as his earthquake dunks: Blake Griffin.

His preseason breakaway jam against the New Orleans Hornets delayed the inevitable. His rookie season was over before it even began. The public gave him a year-long pass. The 2009 first overall pick was left alone and distanced from any criticism. All he had to worry about was getting his knee right.

His dunk-a-thon on the New York Knicks initiated the inevitable. His “rookie” season up to this point started with a 20-point and 14-rebound opener and six double-doubles in 13 games. Then he erupted on a former phenom-turned-superstar, S.T.A.T., for a Clipper rookie scoring mark of 44 points to go along with 15 boards. The public began to take notice. The Blake Griffin Show would be followed like Vinsanity back in 1998. All this in spite of … a won-loss record of one win and 13 losses.

His dunk contest during All-Star Saturday Night in Los Angeles cemented the inevitable. His “rookie” season by now featured the longest rookie double-doubles streak in over 40 plus years (26 in a row), 45 double-doubles in 56 games, and topping his rookie Clipper buckets record with 47 points and 14 boards. The public embraced him. Griffin did the unthinkable when he jumped over a whip to win the Sprite Slam Dunk contest and was the “rookie” selected by the coaches to All-Star game since The Big Fundamental. All this in spite of … the Clippers sporting 17 Ws and 35 Ls by the break.

Nevertheless, Griffin continued his roll and finished the season with 62 doubles-doubles in 82 games. He went on to unanimously win the Rookie of the Year award since The Admiral did it. And was the first “rookie” to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since Elton Brand. All this in spite of … Clips finishing third to last in the Western Conference with a 32 and 46 overall record.

But what turned the tide from lovable, up-and-coming superstar to overrated stud was viewed through Twitter.

Last summer ESPN launched their #NBArank Twitter hashtag campaign. The goal of this initiative is to drive the basketball conversation among fans during the stale NBA news period. According to ESPN, these player rankings are based on 91 “experts” rating each cat on a 0-to-10 scale, “in terms of current quality of each player.” What the f@#& does “current quality of each player” mean? Griffin was deemed the 10th best player after just one season. The negative reaction on Twitter then was almost as bad as the recent upheaval fans are having versus the NFL after the Monday Night Football game. There’s no reasonable explanation for how or why these people thought he was that nice. His highlights that filled “SportsCenter” definitely helped their ratings, but no number of dunks should’ve made him received such a lofty standing. The game’s best have always been more than aerial assassins. Griffin’s posters glossed over the rest of his weaknesses. By this time, he officially exceeded rationale debate.

Fast-forward to today and Griffin is ranked 14th in this year’s #NBArank installment. He only dropped four spots — and that’s still way too high for him. While his potential should classify him as among the league’s best, he is nowhere near close to reaching his ceiling. His development has barely begun. And although his field goal percentage jumped from 51 to 55 percent, he regressed in scoring (22.5 to 20.7 PPG), boards (12.1 to 10.9), and from the stripe (64 to 52 percent).

Social media has served as a vehicle to promote and christen ballers well before their game has been given the chance to develop. Blake Griffin’s meteoric rise in popularity is a clear byproduct of this urge for immediacy in society. This misperception isn’t at all his fault. Maybe overrated shouldn’t be associated to him as much as overhyped.

Either way, there’s no way Griffin’s bounce can reach the heights of everybody else’s fabricated standards.

— Freddy Lopez

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