The NBA is a star-driven league, that much is certain. Whether by free agency or by trade, one singular move involving one singular player can have a profound impact on the NBA landscape. This star power combined with social media buzz and the general excitement of the league makes it so easy to hype up even the most flawed of players.
Sometimes, we get a little carried away.
In this list, we are going to count down the most overrated, overhyped, and overpaid superstars of 2019. And while all of these guys are unquestioned elites, are they really as good as we think they are?
Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans): He’s young, he can score, and he has a new opportunity in New Orleans. But when the fans started comparing him to Kevin Durant, he instantly became one of the more overhyped names in the league — even if he has yet to reach his full potential. Ingram averaged 33 minutes per game last season (his third as a pro) as a second-option in L.A., compared to the 20.3 points Durant averaged as a rookie in 2008.
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets): The Joker is undoubtedly one of the best big men in the game, but to those saying he is on the same level as the NBA’s highest tier players — slow down. Despite leading the Nuggets to one of the best regular-season records, he was unable to take them past the Trail Blazers in the second round and barely snuck past the 7th seeded Spurs in the first. He is a great statistical player, but his game is able to be neutralized when it matters most.
Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors): The community has hailed Siakam as the most recent young NBA superstar, but that title is premature. The Raptors were all-too-quick to hand the franchise keys over to him despite his unreliability in the postseason and inconsistency in the regular season. He is 25-years-old and entering his 4th NBA season, but we are fooling ourselves if we believe he can fill the hole left by Kawhi Leonard.
Point Guard: Ben Simmons
The 76ers recently signed Ben Simmons to a five-year, $170 million contract extension to keep him in town through 2025. It is understandable why Philly opened up their wallets: he is an important part of their team.
But just because the Sixers had to pay Simmons, does not mean he is worth the money. Without him, they have no chance of making a long-postseason run — even in the East. With him, however, they do not necessarily become Championship contenders. Simmons’ hideous shooting stroke has shown no signs of getting better and it is seriously limiting not only the heights of his potential but of his team.
It is just one flaw, but it’s a serious one. All the best NBA players can stretch the floor in some capacity, so why should Simmons be counted among them if he cannot make a shot outside of 5 feet from the rim?
Shooting Guard: Bradley Beal
You would have trouble finding 5 teams in the league who wouldn’t trade for Bradley Beal right now. As an exciting young shooter/scorer, Beal has quickly become one of the NBA’s hottest commodities. But don’t be fooled.
Despite what the community might believe, Bradley Beal is no Batman — he is a sidekick. The 2018-19 season saw the 2x All-Star average over 25 points per game, a career-high mark that earned him a lot of attention from opposing GMs. Though, unlike some of the league’s true top stars, Beal’s game is one-dimensional. He is a high-volume shooter and scorer, and that’s it.
His defensive game is sorely lacking, his ability to make his teammates better just isn’t there, and he has yet to prove he can be relied upon in the big moments. With #3 as the first option, the Wizards finished 32-50 for the season as Beal played literally all 82 games.
Small Forward: Paul George
(Los Angeles Clippers)
Clippers fans are going to riot, but PG13’s resume speaks for itself. In 2012, 13 and 14 he lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Playoffs all three times, despite having one of the most defensively-dominant rosters of the decade. In his final two years in Indiana, he was unable to beat the Raptors or Cavaliers in the opening round of a weak East Playoff bracket.
George went to the Thunder to join Russell Westbrook where he hoped to replicate the success of the Kevin Durant era. Instead, OKC lost to Joe Ingles and the 5th seeded Jazz in 2018, followed by a 5-game series defeat at the hands of the 3rd seeded Traill Blazers just this past spring.
He is with Kawhi now in Los Angeles, and folks are calling their team “the most dangerous in the league.” While it is true that they have a deep and loaded supporting cast, Kawhi’s so-called MVP-caliber running mate seems to be allergic to playoff success. Maybe it’s because he is not quite as good as he is having us believe?
Power Forward: Draymond Green
(Golden State Warriors)
Draymond is loud, he’s explosive, and he is the glue that holds the Warriors together. People often mistake his importance for dominance when in reality being an anger-bot is probably the best component of Draymond’s game.
His defensive prowess cannot be undervalued, and he is no doubt one of the best in the league at that category. The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year is no doubt as important to the Warriors as anyone. But when you look at some of the previous DPOY winners, it becomes clear that winning the award does not necessarily translate into being a top-tier star. Rudy Gobert has won in back-to-back years, Joakim Noah won it back in 2014, and then Tyson Chandler two years before that in 2012.
These guys are all specialists, not players you want to build your team around. As for Draymond, his limited and frankly unpredictable offensive game hurts his value almost as much as his defense powers add to it.
Center: Al Horford
Big Al averaged 13 .6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season, only 1.1 points and 1.9 rebounds above the production of Brook Lopez. The bigger difference is that Al Horford is set to make roughly $109M over the next four years, while Lopez re-upped with the Bucks for 4-years, $52 million. Get the picture?
Horford is a great piece and solid team player, but his short-lived dominant run with the Hawks in 2015 gave him more publicity than he’s worth. He is hailed and valued highly for his “unprecedented” shooting, but he only made 73 shots from beyond the arc last season, coming in behind Nikola Vucevic, Joel Embiid, Myles Turner, and (you guessed it) Brook Lopez.
Horford’s lovable personality and fundamental expertise make him very valuable, even at 33-years-old. But there are plenty of big men nowadays who do practically the same exact thing — and for a lower cost.