RANKED: The 25 Most Overrated Players in NBA History

25. Joe Johnson

At one point, Joe Johnson was the highest-paid player in the NBA. He inked a six-year/$119 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Two years later, he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Johnson’s career stats aren’t terrible. He made seven All-Star teams, and averaged at least 20.0 PPG in five-straight seasons. With that said, Johnson made those All-Star teams playing in the awful Eastern Conference. He’s also been named to only one All-NBA Team (Third Team) in 17 seasons. This is a much better barometer when comparing Johnson to the rest of the league.

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24. Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay is an empty stats guy in the classic sense of the term. He averaged about 18 points per contest throughout his career. This is surely respectable. Many were enamored with his combination of athleticism and scoring ability. There were some believing that Gay could even develop into a franchise player. While he could score, Gay never had a PER above 20. The Maryland native also hasn’t made an All-Star appearance, can’t play defense, and has had a very difficult time staying healthy. Along the same lines, Gay has only made the playoffs twice during his entire career.

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23. Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis is essentially a poor man’s version of Gilbert Arenas. At his peak, Ellis had four-straight years averaging at least 20 points per game (including a 25.5 average in 2009-10). A dynamic athlete, the Mississippi native could score from anywhere on the floor. However, Ellis was not an efficient player — nor did he involve his teammates much from the lead guard spot. He never cracked the 20.0 PER mark for any individual season. Duly, Ellis has shot 31.4 percent from three for his entire career, and has only averaged 4.6 assists per game.

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22. Jermaine O’Neal

Jermaine O’Neal certainly wasn’t a disappointment over the course of his career. He made six All-Star teams during this time, and was virtually a walking double-double. However, O’Neal shrunk when it mattered most. His career averages were shockingly low (11.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG) during postseason play. This isn’t acceptable for a guy slated to be a franchise-type player.

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21. Brian Grant

Brian Grant was a bit of an enforcer for Portland. Many were quick to depict him as a vital cog within the Portland machine during the late ’90s. This wasn’t the case when delving into Grant’s statistical outputs. Whilst playing heavy minutes during this three-year spell with the Blazers, Grant averaged 10.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.6 BPG. His career numbers (10.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.7 BPG) weren’t much better. There’s something to be said about being a glue guy. However, he was a very average player during his prime.

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20. Keith Van Horn

The image above is quite apropos when describing Keith Van Horn’s ability on the defensive end of the floor. To put it mildly, Van Horn struggled. It’s almost akin to him being on skates when trying to shuffle his feet laterally. The former No. 2 overall pick, Van Horn never quite lived up to the hype. He did put up multiple seasons with at least 19.2 PPG. However, all other aspects of his game were below-average. This can clearly be seen with a five-year PER average of 16.9, as well as a net negative in defensive box plus/minus.

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19. Detlef Schrempf

The German forward was both hard-nosed and rugged. He shot a high percentage from three, and was efficient around the rim. However, Schrempf was not exceptional when it came to overall PER (sat beneath 20 in virtually every season with Seattle). He also was useless in terms of accruing any defensive statistic. Whilst in the playoffs, Schrempf’s shooting numbers dropped across the board. He really shouldn’t be considered a big-time wing for his generation — though many are quick to drop that denotation.

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18. Tony Parker

Yes, Tony Parker was a winner. He was integral in helping San Antonio win four NBA Championships. He also was a six-time All-Star during this time period. With all of that said, was Parker ever considered one of the league’s best guards? He shot only 32.6 percent from three over the course of his career. Duly, Parker was abysmal on the defensive end. San Antonio’s dynasty was far more influenced by the likes of Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili.

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17. Emeka Okafor

Okafor has been rather underwhelming. He entered the league after previously being drafted No. 2 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft. Okafor signed a six-year/$72 million deal with Charlotte before being traded to New Orleans. It was a struggle for the big man — as he accrued diminishing stats in every major statistical category. This was particularly alarming from the standpoint he was only 27 years old upon being traded to New Orleans. Though penciled in as a starter on virtually every team he’s been on, Okafor has been very average for a former high draft choice (12.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.6 BPG).

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16. Glenn Robinson

‘Big Dog’ Glenn Robinson was an elite scorer for the Bucks. He used his big frame to bully smaller defenders, and also had the skill level to score from anywhere on the court. Though he averaged over 20 PPG during his career, Robinson did so with shockingly poor efficiency. The small forward earned only 20.5 offensive win shares over the course of his career. This is rather poor for an ‘elite’ player expected to carry a franchise. Robinson also finished with a career PER of 17.5 and only two All-Star appearances.

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15. Josh Howard

Josh Howard was — at one time — one of the league’s better wing defenders. The Wake Forest product made one All-Star team, and had a three-year stretch in which he averaged close to 20 PPG. However, there were varying issues relating to why his stint with Dallas was cut short. For one, he often strayed away from the free-flowing offensive scheme — instead settling for long jumpers. There were multiple playoff series in which Howard was ice-cold from three-point range (career 31.1 percent from three during postseason play). A once-promising career ultimately was cut short in Howard’s early 30s.

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14. Baron Davis

Baron Davis had some spectacular moments with the Golden State Warriors. He was the main cog in engineering the upset over the heavily-favored No. 1-seeded Dallas Mavericks during the 2007 NBA Playoffs. However prior to that time, Davis was very mediocre with the Charlotte Hornets. The former UCLA star made only two all-star teams during his tenure with the Hornets. He was a high volume scorer with pedestrian field-goal numbers (40.9 percent for his career). Only once did Davis’ PER exceed 20.0 during his time with the franchise.

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13. Grant Hill

Grant Hill is overrated based upon what he could have been, as well as the contract he inked with the Orlando Magic. Hill was one of the league’s best young talents upon signing a seven-year/$93 million deal with the Magic. However, things quickly unraveled. Hill only played in a combined 47 games during the first four years of the contract. His tenure in Orlando is one of the biggest free agent blunders in recent memory. Though very gifted, Hill simply couldn’t stay healthy.

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12. Pete Maravich

This one might be a bit controversial. People loved the way Pete Maravich played. He offered a swashbuckling style on the court. This included launching shots far from the basket in the pre-three-point line era as well as cleverly dishing out flashy passes. In a sense, Maravich was a transcendent player. However, his teams were rather bad. Maravich didn’t do much to lift them over the opening round playoff hump. Duly, he turned the ball over at a high rate, and wasn’t much on the defensive end of the floor. There’s something to be said about having supreme confidence as a shooter, though coaches probably didn’t like Maravich frequently launching 25 footers without a three-point line present.

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11. Jason Williams

Jason ‘White Chocolate’ Williams was immensely fun to watch. Williams resembled an artist on the court, as his precision with perfectly-timed passes was phenomenal. Along the same lines, he’d do things that only a handful of players would even attempt — let alone do. For as creative as Williams was in terms of passing the basketball, he had his flaws. Williams shot shockingly low from the field (39.8 percent) and from three (32.7 percent) for his career. His most notable three-year tenure with the Sacramento Kings featured a collective PER of 12.3. Though Williams was above-average in terms of getting steals, Williams was a liability in terms of on-ball defense.

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10. Robert Horry

Robert Horry — aka ‘Big Shot Bob’ — is forever known for the game-winning shot versus the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 NBA Playoffs. Over the course of his career, Horry came up big in clutch moments. He was the perfect glue guy. In essence, Horry was a player with floor-spreading capabilities, physicality in the painted area, and a strong basketball I.Q.  However, he wasn’t exactly a big-time player. During his career, Horry averaged only 7.0 PPG and 4.8 RPG on 42.5 percent from the floor and 34.1 percent from three. His penchant for being on winning teams is impressive. With that said, he wasn’t exactly a dynamic player by any stretch of the imagination.

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9. DeMar DeRozan

We don’t want to throw even more salt in an open wound. For as great as DeMar DeRozan was for the Toronto Raptors franchise, he remains as an overrated player. Stylistically, DeRozan resembled a ’90s guard rather than a player in the current era. He settled far too often for mid-range jumpers rather than shooting the three ball. When launching threes, he connected on only 28.8 percent of them throughout his career. DeRozan is below-average as both a rebounder and facilitator for others. In the playoffs, DeRozan’s long been known as a choker. As a leader for Toronto, his teams repeatedly underachieved in postseason play. This could be attributed to DeRozan accruing bad shooting splits of 41 percent from the field, and 23.5 percent from three. He’s not good enough to be a top-15 player — though he’s inexplicably in the discussion for that billing.

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8. Stephon Marbury

Stephon Marbury was eerily similar to Steve Francis. An elite one-on-one player, Marbury could score virtually every time he touched the ball. However, this style of basketball didn’t equate to winning at the highest level. With the Timberwolves, the precocious guard out of Georgia Tech shot right around 41 percent from the field. In the playoffs, these shooting numbers dipped to 35 percent. In both of his playoff series with Minnesota, Marbury registered negative numbers in offensive win shares, defensive win shares, and total wins share. His career then continued to take a tumble. Marbury ultimately became a star in China — though he didn’t garner the same type of adoration nor success here in the States.

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7. Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas was a highly gifted scorer. A three-year stretch with the Wizards saw the California native put up scoring averages of 25.5, 29.3, and 28.4 PPG, respectively. He shot threes with relative success, and was great at getting to the line. However, there were also a lot of inconsistencies within Arenas’ career. After those monster years, Arenas played a total of 47 games the following three years combined. His defense was non-existent, he wasn’t much of a leader, and really didn’t make any of his teammates better.

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6. Alonzo Mourning

While Alonzo Mourning was a very accomplished competitor, there were some aspects of his game which cater to the ‘overrated’ category. For one, Mourning never played a full NBA season. He struggled to stay on the floor for a myriad of reasons. Despite being an aggressive post player, Mourning only averaged 8.5 RPG over the course of his career. He wasn’t much of a playmaker, either — especially when realizing Mourning averaged a paltry 1.1 APG during his time in the NBA.

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5. Bill Laimbeer

Bill Laimbeer is affectionately known for his role as a ‘Bad Boy’ during the height of the Pistons’ run. He was quite good as an enforcer, and also lived on the boards. However, Laimbeer wasn’t a highly efficient player. He never registered a PER above 20 in any single season. Laimbeer also didn’t protect the rim — as he averaged less than a block per contest over the course of his entire career. Laimbeer was a good player, though certainly not one of the better big men during his time.

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4. Steve Francis

‘Stevie Franchise’ was a tremendous talent. No one speaks ill of Francis’ ability to finish at the rim. He was creative with the ball in his hands, and highly explosive when driving to the cup. With all of that said, Francis was an overrated player. His work ethic was always called into question. Additionally, Francis had some issues with his attitude. Francis only led Houston to the playoffs once, and the Rockets ultimately were knocked out in the first round. He’s the classic case of a guy who was uber-gifted, though didn’t really make anyone else better. Sadly, Francis’ career flamed out rather quickly.

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3. Carmelo Anthony

You had to be expecting this, right? There’s a strong contingent of Carmelo Anthony apologists out there. One can respect the ease with which Melo scores the basketball. When in his prime, he was one of the more skilled forwards in the NBA. However, he did not foster a playing style geared towards winning. Iso-centric, ball-stopping basketball was the name of the game for Anthony. While he put up points in bunches, virtually none of his teams benefited from this method of production. Anthony cared more about personal accolades rather than sharing the basketball for the betterment of the team. Whilst with the Knicks, Anthony made the playoffs three times in seven years. Only once did the team advance beyond the first round.

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2. Paul Pierce

Sorry Boston fans, but Paul Pierce is wildly overrated. He’s not nearly in the same class as Bird, Cousy, McHale, Russell, or even Kyrie Irving. Prior to the original ‘Big 3’ being formed, Pierce had little in the way of success in Boston. After a run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001-02, the Pierce-led Celtics teams bowed out in the first round of back-to-back seasons. Boston then failed to even make the playoffs in two-straight years. This led to the acquisitions of Garnett and Ray Allen. Pierce never made an All-NBA First Team, and was only an All-NBA selection four times throughout his entire 19-year career. While a good player, Celtics fans may have a bloated view of just how good Pierce really was.

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1. Dominique Wilkins

If we held a global dunk contest spanning over all generations, Wilkins would be a front-runner. But as a basketball player? He was a tad over-hyped. No one could ever question Wilkins’ scoring ability. He averaged nearly 25 a game for his career on only 31.9 percent from three. Wilkins could manufacture points in a myriad of ways. With that said, he never got teammates involved (2.5 APG for his career) nor did he really rebound well for his position (6.7 RPG for his career). Defensively, a parking cone might be an apt comparison when describing his prowess on that end of the floor. Considering his lofty reputation, these are reasons as to why he’s the most overrated player in NBA history.

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