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

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


In the pantheon of superstars in the NBA how do we know who truly belongs? What exactly makes a player a superstar? Is it the attention that he attracts on the floor or is it the value he brings to a locker room?

People have different definitions of what a star is; however, there are certain stipulations that a player must be able to meet in order to be considered a “star.” They have to be good and consistent on the basketball court night in and night out. If there is ever a night when this player doesn’t show up, how can he be considered a star? A star is supposed to vault a team into playoff contention year in and year out. To do that, one must be consistent.

This star also must be efficient. When it comes down to it if you aren’t making your possessions useful for your team, you’re wasting them. You’re being putting up shot after shot after shot and taking those same shots from your teammates. Sharing the ball — not necessarily assisting — and sharing possessions is key. Those around the star always get better; his rising tide floats all boats.

From those ground rules, I’ve determined that Carmelo Anthony is the most overrated player in the NBA. Coming in the same draft as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James doesn’t help. People have always compared Carmelo’s success to both of Miami’s studs and he doesn’t even compare. In a nine-year career, Carmelo has only been out of the first round of the playoffs once. That’s unacceptable.

He’s supposed to be an elite scorer who can score from anywhere on the floor but his production doesn’t say that to me at all. Sure, he can make difficult shots. He’s got a mean one-dribble pull up jumper as well. That doesn’t mean that the production is as pretty as the form.

For such an elite scorer, Carmelo has never averaged more than 30 points a game. He’s only come close with two seasons of 28.2 and 28.9 but has never been able to break the barrier. He’s shooting 32 percent from beyond the arch for his career, as well, an unacceptable figure for someone who attempts nearly four threes per game last season (4.6 the season before).

Carmelo had what was possibly the worst year of his career last season as well. He posted the second worst shooting percentage, 43 percent, of his career and only scored 22.6 points per game. He had an eFG percentage of 46 percent, which is two notches below the league average of 48 percent. Maybe worst is that he did it all while having a usage rate of 31.8 percent, fourth highest in the NBA. His lack of efficiency and inability to assimilate with Mike D’Antoni‘s offensive system was an indictment of Carmelo’s career to me. It showed the world that he isn’t the quality of star that some might think he is.

— Michael Sykes


On Feb. 6th, 2012, an undrafted point guard from Harvard started for the New York Knicks and changed the course of world history forever. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Yet after witnessing Linsanity sweep the planet, a lot of people were ready to crown Jeremy Lin as the next superstar point guard. Regardless of how you feel about Lin as a player, his meteoric rise from castaway to global sensation is a fascinating story and, as such, is still a polarizing topic among NBA fans eight months after his first NBA start. But how good is he? Is he a future All-Star that just needed an opportunity? Is he worth the three-year, $25 million contract he signed this offseason with the Rockets? Is he even a legit starting point guard? Or is he completely overrated?

Like all NBA players, Lin has strengths and weaknesses. He excels at using his sturdy frame to get past the perimeter defender and into the lane, but once he gets to the rim he’s a terrible finisher. His makes and attempts at the rim (2.1 and 3.9, respectively) are above the league average for point guards, but his 52.9 percent conversion rate at the rim is the seventh worst among point guards who averaged 25 or more minutes a game last season. His ability to get into the lane and draw contact does equal foul shots (sixth best for point guards), but he is a below average free throw shooter when he gets there. In fact, he is also a below average three-point shooter and his true shooting percentage (55.2) is less than two percent above the league average for point guards. Are these really superstar statistics?

Well, what about distributing? Rajon Rondo has shown that you don’t have to shoot like Steve Nash to be an All-Star caliber point guard in the league. Lin averaged a respectable 6.2 assists per game, but his 1.71 assist to turnover ratio was the fifth worst among qualified point guards (and nearly half of Rondo’s 3.21). What if playing with a high usage player like Carmelo limited Lin’s ability to affect the offense? Rondo has every opportunity to control the ball on his Celtics team, right? Lin actually posted the fifth highest usage rate among qualified point guards last season — a higher total than Tony Parker, Chris Paul and even Brandon Jennings.

This absolutely does not mean Lin isn’t a good point guard: It just means he is much closer to average than to superstar. Comparing Lin to Raptors point guard (and former Rocket) Kyle Lowry reveals that Houston may be paying more for a lesser product. While Lin slightly edged Lowry in scoring average, Lowry posted better numbers in rebounds, assists, free throw percentage, three point percentage and committed fewer turnovers per game. The Rockets will be paying Lin nearly $15 million during the final year of his deal, making him the third highest paid point guard in 2014. That’s superstar money for a non-superstar player.

— Sean Cochran

Who is the most overrated star in the NBA?

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