Players in the NBA can be labeled as underrated or overrated depending on their skill set, popularity, and impact. Being underrated means that a player does not receive enough recognition or praise for what they bring to their teams despite being a factor in their team’s success. Oftentimes, these players are outshined by other star players on the roster.
In the NBA right now, there are some names that stand out immediately. While most of these players are getting paid nicely by their teams, they are often disregarded by fans and pundits when discussing the team’s successes in the regular season and playoffs. But there are other players around the league that are considered overrated. In fact, former All-Star players are mainly the ones considered overrated right now.
Some very renowned star players have been overrated by many fans and media because of their ability to stuff the stat sheet or produce note-worthy highlights. Not to mention, past achievements lead current players to achieve undeserved recognition and support from the media and fans. The aim of the game is to win and produce at a high level, things that not every All-Star or former All-Star does at this point.
How would a starting 5 between the top underrated stars fare against a starting 5 of overrated stars? It is time to decide this by going through a player comparison and predicting who would win a best-of-7 series.
Underrated Starting 5: Trae Young, Terry Rozier, Brandon Ingram, Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo
Overrated Starting 5: Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Draymond Green
The Underrated Team will include point guard Trae Young, a player who is often criticized for being a high-usage, high-turnover player, although he is an impact star on offense. Terry Rozier suits up alongside him, and he brings defense and shooting, although he often goes unnoticed. Brandon Ingram and Pascal Siakam make up a solid frontcourt as two players who fly under the radar. Finally, Bam Adebayo is the center, and he helped the Miami Heat reach the Finals in 2020.
For the Overrated Team, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook start alongside each other, and both players were the most criticized this past season. They have flashy playing styles, but clearly, that has not translated to winning. Ben Simmons is an elite defender, but his inability to shoot has made him a frustrating figure to follow in the modern NBA. Tobias Harris and Draymond Green are two players who are making max money but have not been able to produce max output.
Here is the player-by-player analysis according to their respective positions.
Trae Young vs. Kyrie Irving
Trae Young is an elite offensive player, and he generally finds a way to get good looks for himself or his teammates against any opposition. Against a relatively disinterested defender in Kyrie Irving, Young will be tremendous at scoring the ball and leading the offense. For the series, Trae will average 28 PPG and 12 APG while shooting 33% from the three-point line and 41% from the field. The guard will have a tremendous impact on his team, even if he shoots a low percentage.
Meanwhile, Kyrie will be the star of the show for his side as he averages 29 PPG, 6 RPG, and 6 APG. Irving will be the primary offensive option for his team, which is why his efficiency will be slightly lacking. But Irving will take Trae one-on-one on most occasions, with the Underrated Stars opting to place Terry Rozier and Brandon Ingram on the guard throughout the series.
Terry Rozier vs. Russell Westbrook
This will be a matchup of toughness and energy. Rozier does not have Westbrook’s talent, but he brings higher efficiency shooting and better defense. The point guard will hustle for loose balls, attack the rim, and drain long-distance shots effectively. Playing alongside Young will allow Rozier to focus on what he does best, and that will greatly help his efficiency from the floor.
Meanwhile, Westbrook will struggle to make perimeter shots alongside two other ball-dominant players in Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons. Westbrook will average 21 PPG, 10 RPG, and 7 APG, but he will only shoot 20% from three. His inability to make outside shots will harm his team, although his aggression at the rim and also on the boards will make up for that at times.
Brandon Ingram vs. Ben Simmons
Brandon Ingram is the polar opposite of Ben Simmons with regards to making perimeter shots because the talented forward is an elite mid-range shooter and deep-range marksman. Standing 6’8”, Ingram will be able to get shots up even over the outstretched arms of Simmons. Ingram will average 25 PPG in the series, although his efficiency won’t be there against an elite defensive opponent. Ingram will shoot 39% from the field, although he will drain 82% of his foul shots.
Ben Simmons will be mainly valuable at defending the ball because he brings tremendous size and explosiveness at 6’11”. The Australian star will also be a primary playmaker, sharing duties with Kyrie Irving for the majority of the time. Simmons, when he does not have the ball, will be rendered ineffective on offense because he will hardly space the floor. In many ways, that plays to Underrated Team’s advantage throughout the series.
Pascal Siakam vs. Tobias Harris
Pascal Siakam is a very talented power forward because he has the size to be a paint protector while also bringing efficient offense with his ability to attack the rim and nail outside shots. Siakam can also move the ball well, play defense, and crash the boards. In terms of versatility, Siakam is better than Tobias Harris due to his defense, passing, and rebounding. Siakam will also form a tremendous duo with Bam Adebayo and will have an invaluable impact on his side.
Tobias Harris is a talented scorer who can also rebound the ball, but he will be outplayed by Pascal Siakam. Harris will need to be a spot-up shooter because his teammates are not elite shooters, and that will take him out of the rhythm of the offense on some occasions. Harris will also struggle to deal with the athletic Siakam when the power forward attacks the rim.
Bam Adebayo vs. Draymond Green
Bam Adebayo, at this moment in time, is a better player than Draymond Green, and it isn’t close. Bam will be explosive rolling to the rim and will also defend the paint very well alongside Siakam. Bam is a talented passer who has an extremely soft touch around the rim, so his presence as a versatile big will change the series. In many ways, Siakam and Adebayo will alter the way the Overrated Team approaches the opponent on both ends of the floor. Bam will unlock Pascal on offense because they will form a fantastic duo on the court.
Draymond Green will be an important vocal leader, but he is another player who will not space the floor well enough. He will try to lead the offense with playmaking, but the ball is better suited in the hands of Kyrie or Ben Simmons. Draymond will set picks and try to get easy buckets in the paint, but he understands Kyrie Irving will need to run the show. But as a whole, Bam Adebayo will outplay Draymond on both ends of the floor.
Underrated Starting 5 Advantages
The Underrated Team has the advantage of much better outside shooting, as four players can make three-point shots and be versatile on offense. Rozier and Ingram are far better shooters than Westbrook and Simmons and cannot be left open by any means. With a superstar playmaker like Trae Young setting other players up, the shooters will have plenty of opportunities to express themselves from three-point range.
Not to mention, the underrated stars have excellent personalities and bring solid defensive acumen along with other important attributes. Rozier is a stout defender who will hustle most for loose balls, and Ingram can also provide rebounding and playmaking alongside his scoring. Siakam and Adebayo can run the floor, pass the ball, and also compete in the paint with relative ease. Overall, the underrated stars bring a ton of shooting and versatility.
Overrated Starting 5 Advantages
The Overrated Team has recognized star power and arguably the best player on the floor in Kyrie Irving. Kyrie is a terrific offensive player and will lead his team in scoring at 29 PPG. He won’t be as efficient as usual, mainly because he will be forced to be the primary perimeter threat and will shoot 44% for the series. But Kyrie will be a massive load to handle for the opposing guards.
Otherwise, the underrated stars have a dedicated winner in Draymond Green, who can still defend at a high level and set the tone for his teammates with vocal leadership. Green will be the best leader on the floor, an attribute that will help unlock Ben Simmons’ versatile defensive abilities. The overrated stars also have a solid competitor in Russell Westbrook, who will play his heart out.
Who Wins A Best-Of-7 Series?
Game 1 goes to the Underrated Team, who find their rhythm thanks to Trae Young and Brandon Ingram. The duo combine for 62 points, with the point guard scoring 20 points in the second half alone. Trae makes a living on the pick-n-roll, using picks from Siakam and Adebayo to free himself for good looks. In this game, Trae only has 4 assists as he focused on scoring the ball. Similarly, Ingram has a solid game by posting a 10-point third quarter. The game ends in a convincing 99-90 victory.
Game 2 goes to the Overrated Team, who find a way to win thanks to a Kyrie Irving game-winner. With the game tied 100-100, Kyrie takes Trae one-on-one and steps back for a jumper with 5 seconds left on the shot clock and 15 seconds left in the game. It rims out, only to fall to Draymond Green. The power forward dribbles back out, hands the ball to Kyrie, and sets a pick. Kyrie comes off the pick and drains a contested jumper with 6 seconds left over the outstretched Ingram. The Underrated stars try to answer through Young, but he misses with the game ending 102-100.
Game 3 is another convincing victory by the Underrated Team. Pascal Siakam is the star of the show, posting 30 points on 52% shooting. He makes a living catching lob passes from Trae Young, who finishes with a game-high 15 assists. Ingram chips in 24, and Bam has a third-straight double-double. The Overrated Team struggles to cope with the Siakam and Young duo and has to accept a 112-91 loss. Only Russell Westbrook plays well with his 21-point triple-double.
But the Overrated Team respond in Game 4, posting an impressive 100-85 victory. Ben Simmons plays at his best, holding Ingram to only 10 points while contributing 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists of his own. Simmons takes control of the offense, feeding Kyrie, who acts as a shooting guard for most of the game. Kyrie leads all scorers with 28 points, but it was Simmons who has the biggest impact. The Australian suffocates key scorers as the Underrated Team only fails to make 39% of their shots in an ugly loss.
Game 5 is a tight one to start, but it goes the way of the Underrated Stars. The big man duo of Siakam and Adebayo prove to be the difference, as they control the rebounding and also combine for 10 points in the final 4 minutes of the fourth quarter. A Bam jumper and Siakam three kickstart a late 8-0 run that is capped off with an And-1 by the center. The Overrated Team tied the game before that but had to climb out of a hole. They fail to score in the final 3 minutes and endure a frustrating 102-94 loss.
Game 6 is not very close, as the Underrated Team closes out the opponent before Game 7. Trae Young is extremely solid, posting 30 points and 13 assists, while Siakam has another good game with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Terry Rozier and Brandon Ingram’s three-point shooting ultimately proves to be the difference because they combine for 10 threes made between them, while the Overrated Team only manages 9 as a team. The game ends 111-89 in another blowout game in the series. The Underrated Team simply has too much shooting and versatility, and it shows at the end of 6 games. For his scoring efforts and impressive stat lines, Trae Young is named Finals MVP.
Final Result: Underrated Starting 5 Defeats Overrated Starting 5 4-2
Finals MVP: Trae Young