25. Coby White — Chicago Bulls
Coby White is the new clubhouse leader in the “Most Overrated Former Lottery Pick Guard” debate. This was a mantle previously held by Dennis Smith Jr. (it’s hard to be overrated when you’ve been on three teams in four seasons like Dennis has). With players like White, it’s often as simple as accepting the information their coaches give us. Chicago fans thought they secured their backcourt of the future when White was selected 7th overall in 2019.
After coming off the bench in Year 1, White started 54-of-69 games last year alongside franchise star Zach Lavine. The pairing clearly didn’t inspire much confidence in Chicago’s front office. Following the season, the Bulls went out and signed free agent PG Lonzo Ball to an $85 million deal. White can score the rock, but his defensive and playmaking limitations have relegated him to a reserve role.
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24. Kelly Oubre Jr. — Charlotte Hornets
Fans tend to overrate young players who show a knack for one particular skill. Especially ones who were selected with a top draft pick. A former lottery selection, Kelly Oubre Jr. was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks but was traded to the Washington Wizards shortly after. After a slow start to his Washington tenure, Oubre Jr. began collecting praise for his defensive prowess.
Oubre has always been a tremendous athlete with great size. It’s easy to envision him becoming a premiere defender at some point in his career, though he’s not there quite yet. His offensive contributions are not nearly enough to bridge the gap. His shooting dipped dramatically in his lone year with the Warriors as he became a liability from three (31.6-percent).
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23. Tyrese Maxey — Philadelphia 76ers
Tyrese Maxey’s status as overrated hinges on the validity of the James Harden-to-Philadelphia trade reports. The belief was the 76ers were the leading candidate to land the disgruntled superstar. When Brooklyn ended up executing a deal to land Harden, the NBA world was left puzzled by the result. How could the 76ers fail to land Harden when they boasted the best potential trade package?
One rumor floated around was that Philly’s unwillingness to part with Maxey stalled talks. Maxey showed promise as a rookie after the 76ers took a shot on the former Kentucky Wildcat with the 21st overall pick in 2021 NBA Draft. However, we’re talking about James Harden here. The Sixers had a chance to pair Harden with All-NBA center Joel Embiid (Ben Simmons would have also been part of the package to acquire Harden), and instead allowed a team in their own conference to create a three-man super-team. All for Maxey — an undersized off-guard who shot 30-percent from three last year.
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22. Talen Horton-Tucker — Los Angeles Lakers
The 20-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker is going to kick off a recurring theme you’ll see throughout this ranking. And that is, current (and former) Laker players tend to be a tad overrated. To no fault of their own. The Lakers have an enormous, global fanbase. Every player who dons the Purple and Gold is placed under a microscope. Their development is watched through more lenses. Every single one of their actions are magnified. If he was a member of another team, Horton-Tucker would hardly be mentioned among the league’s rising second-year players. As the Lakers 9th man you can find his name trending on Twitter just about every night — especially after one of the Lakers’ veterans has a rough game.
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21. Spencer Dinwiddie — Washington Wizards
In today’s NBA, guards are expected to both score and facilitate at a high level. Spencer Dinwiddie is certainly a capable scorer. His PPG average increased each year from his rookie season up until last year (2015-20). With Kevin Durant sidelined, Dinwiddie averaged a career-high 20.6 PPG for the Nets during the 2020 season. In addition to his scoring production, Dinwiddie ranked 15th in assists with 6.8 APG. Scoring plus passing…except those two stats don’t tell the whole story. Dinwiddie may put up some good counting stats, but a deeper dive shows that he hasn’t been a significantly effective player on both ends. Dinwiddie is a woeful three-point shooter (31.8-percent career) and gives minimal effort on the defensive end.
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20. Andrew Wiggins — Golden State Warriors
The former No. 1 overall pick has never quite lived up to the hype. Wiggins was plagued by inconsistency during his time in Minnesota. He was given new life when the historically inept Timberwolves shipped him to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for D’Angelo Russell. The 25-year-old enjoyed arguably the best season of his career in his first year with the Warriors. Though he was a more prolific scorer during his early years in Minnesota, Wiggins had settled into a new role for Golden State. This led to fans claiming that Wiggins was beginning to turn the corner and realize his potential. In reality, he’s still not a terribly impactful defender and provides next to nothing in the playmaking department. His jumper became more reliable, but he was still an average shooter from anywhere other than the corner (the easiest three-pointer to convert) and remains mediocre from the free throw line.
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19. Kyle Kuzma — Washington Wizards
Kyle Kuzma earned a rapid ascent to becoming one of the most overrated players in all of basketball. It began prior to his rookie season, when the Utah product showed out during the NBA Summer League en route to a title. He outshined Lonzo Ball, the No. 2 pick, due to his aggressive demeanor and scoring acumen. Kuzma’s strong rookie campaign threw even more gas on the fire. He shot the ball better than anybody could have expected and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First-Team. It’s been a steep decline ever since. LeBron James and Anthony Davis came to town, and Kuzma was forced into a new role. He never found his footing, and struggled mightily over his final two years with the Lakers. Now with a Wizards team that will likely be near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Kuzma will get another chance to fill up the stat sheet — but it will all just be empty numbers.
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18. Marcus Smart — Boston Celtics
Smart gained notoriety in Boston for his excellent on-ball defense and infectious energy. Over time, Smart developed as a more well-rounded player. Former Boston coach Brad Stevens empowered Smart to be a distributor in Boston’s offense as he’s averaged 4.7 APG over the last five years. However, as Smart’s offensive role increased, his effectiveness on defense dwindled. Smart earned All-Defensive First-Team honors in both ’18 and ’19, but failed to make it in ’21 after a lackluster year on the defensive end. Smart can’t afford to take a step back defensively when he shot as poorly as he did last season (33-percent from three).
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17. Andre Drummond — Philadelphia 76ers
It’s easy to see how Drummond became overrated in the eyes of the casual NBA fan. He spent the first seven-plus years of his career playing for the Detroit Pistons — reaching the postseason once in 2016. By Year 2, the former No. 9 overall pick was a double-double machine. Playing for a non-contender in Detroit, most NBA fans weren’t watching Drummond night in and night out. They just saw his his name atop the leaderboard in rebounds every year. From 2014-20, Drummond led the NBA in rebounding four times and averaged 14.5 boards per night. He’s a productive rebounder, but Drummond fails to provide in several other imperative categories. He’s routinely caught out of position defensively, is careless with the ball, isn’t a great finisher at the rim, and is a historically bad foul shooter.
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16. Patrick Beverley — Minnesota Timberwolves
Beverley is known as one of the league’s top defensive specialists. He’s built this reputation by being an irritant. Beverley hounds opposing ball handlers and never shies from a big matchup. When he gains the upper hand, he lets his opponent hear about it. The former Clipper has earned three All-Defensive team honors over his career — most recently making All-Defensive Second-Team in 2020. At this point in his career, the 33-year-old has a lost a step (or two) as a defender.
Last postseason, the Clippers were torched by opposing guards. Beverley was forced off the court versus Dallas because of his inability to be even a slight deterrent to Luka Doncic who averaged 35.7 PPG in the series. Donovan Mitchell put up 34.8 PPG in the next series for Utah. Against Phoenix, the duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul scored just under 50 PPG combined. Of course, all of those points weren’t scored on Beverley. But the fact that he wasn’t given more minutes in those series says that the Clippers didn’t view his defensive contributions as crucial.
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15. Robert Covington — Portland Trail Blazers
Since becoming a starter in Year 2 with the 76ers, Robert Covington has been hailed as one of the league’s premier 3-and-D wings. He has great size (6-foot-7) and utilizes his length to be a ball hawk on defense (1.7 SPG and 1.3 BPG over the last three seasons). While he won’t be confused with Klay Thompson, Covington is an accomplished three-point shooter who has multiple seasons shooting over 37-percent on a high volume of attempts. Though he has the reputation of 3-and-D, Covington isn’t very elite on either side of the court. He’s a streaky shooter who has the tendency to go ice cold through lengthy stretches. Defensively, Covington excels more as a help defender than an on-ball stopper (the latter being a far more valuable and scarce role).
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14. Tyler Herro — Miami Heat
The legend of Tyler Herro took on a life of its own during the 2020 NBA Playoffs. In the Bubble, Herro transformed into an offensive dynamo. His run was highlighted by a virtuoso 37-point performance versus the Boston Celtics in a crucial Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The uber-confident scoring savant appeared to be one of the league’s brightest stars. A portion of Heat fandom even believed that the 20-year-old Herro was too valuable to include in a potential trade for a superstar.
Herro came back down to Earth in Year 2. He was outplayed by fellow sophomore Kendrick Nunn — who couldn’t even break Miami’s playoff rotation a year ago until injuries occurred. Herro did not put on an encore performance in the postseason, having a dismal showing in Miami’s short playoff run (9.3 PPG on 31.3-percent shooting).
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13. Collin Sexton — Cleveland Cavaliers
In Year 3, Sexton set career-highs in points (24.3), assists (4.4), and field-goal percentage (47.5). Sexton has began gaining praise for his scoring ability, but let’s pump the brakes here. Sexton’s numbers are inflated due to the Cavs’ bottom-dwelling standing. He’s given the green light to shoot at will, and the light shined even brighter after Cleveland dumped Andre Drummond midseason. Sexton hasn’t shown that he can contribute to winning basketball. The team failed to win 20 games in each of Sexton’s first two seasons. In ’21, the Cavs went 22-50 — Cleveland’s most wins in a year since drafting Sexton.
When you compare him to the other young guards, it’s puzzling that Sexton hasn’t been able to produce more wins for his team. Especially when you consider he’s playing in a weak Eastern Conference. The Grizzlies aren’t significantly more talented than the Cavs, but Ja Morant led Memphis to a playoff spot in just his second year. Even De’Aaron Fox, playing for the lowly Kings, had Sacramento in playoff contention by his sophomore season. We need to see Sexton on a more competitive stage before crowning him as one of the league’s top young guards.
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12. Kemba Walker — New York Knicks
The New York native will make his debut with the Knicks this season. Back when Kemba Walker was on the Hornets, the three-time All-Star was potentially underrated. There weren’t many eyes on Charlotte games throughout the years, but the diminutive Walker carried the troubled franchise to multiple playoff berths. As soon as he joined the Celtics following the 2019 season, Walker approached “overrated” status. This had to do with the idea that exchanging Kyrie Irving for Walker wasn’t going to make for a noticeable drop-off.
That was proven to be incorrect, as Walker is nowhere near as impactful or efficient as Kyrie. At this point in his career, Walker is no longer an All-NBA caliber player. The Knicks should temper their expectations for the 31-year-old who has struggled to find his footing over the last two seasons. Maybe a homecoming will revitalize the second-half of his career?
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11. C.J. McCollum — Portland Trail Blazers
If you need a bucket, CJ McCollum can deliver. The longtime Trail Blazer has proven he can score against virtually any defense. If you need a player to do anything other than get a bucket, McCollum might not be your guy. Though McCollum is a gifted one-on-one player, he doesn’t provide much utility outside of his lethal jumper. Don’t get us wrong, having designated bucket-getters is integral to any team that wants to go deep in the playoffs. McCollum has shined in the biggest games, and has strung together clutch performances for Portland in the postseason over the years. Still, McCollum isn’t above average in any other skill besides scoring. He’s a liability on the defensive end, an average rebounder, and doesn’t create for others consistently.
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10. D’Angelo Russell — Minnesota Timberwolves
After a rocky couple of years in LA, former No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell began to find his footing in Brooklyn. The Nets weren’t expected to be a playoff team when Russell joined the squad. They exceeded all expectations in 2019 when they won 42 games and earned a spot in the postseason. Russell was named an All-Star for the first time at just 22 years old. Fans believed the top pick had finally developed into the star they believed he could be, but really it was just a bill of good health and an increased role that contributed to the career-year.
Russell was basically the same player. One with athletic limitations, a tendency to take the same (difficult) shots, but with a bit more freedom. He’s played over 65 games just twice in his career, and has dealt with injuries in each of the last two seasons. Even if he’s healthy in ’22, Russell is nowhere close to being an All-Star caliber guard in the Western Conference.
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9. DeMar DeRozan — Chicago Bulls
A multi-time All-Star and All-NBA selection is considered overrated? Well, it’s complicated. DeRozan has made four All-Star teams in his career, though that number is a bit inflated. All of his selections were within a weaker Eastern Conference. DeRozan failed to make the Western Conference All-Star team in any of his three seasons with the Spurs. He went from a reluctant three-point shooter, to a below average three-point shooter, back to a reluctant shooter. He’s never been a great (or even good) defender despite being a big-time athlete with good size. DeRozan has also seen his numbers consistently drop in the postseason when teams tend to pack the paint and dare non-shooters to hoist deep jumpers. Though he developed immensely as a playmaker in San Antonio, DeRozan is no longer a top-30 player.
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8. Kristaps Porzingis — Dallas Mavericks
When Dallas acquired Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks, it was believed that the Mavericks had gotten their second star to pair alongside Luka Doncic. On the contrary, Porzingis has been anything but a star in his time in Dallas. He’s struggled to stay on the floor — a common theme throughout his injury-plagued career. There are times when the 7-foot-3 Latvian operates as an oversized shooting guard who floats around the three-point line. Of course, he’s a good shooter, but Porzingis is taller than everybody guarding him and rarely uses that to his advantage inside. He’s also taken a significant step back on the defensive end since leaving New York.
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7. Draymond Green — Golden State Warriors
Green’s contributions on the floor reach far beyond the box score. He’s a leader who does all of the little things on the floor. Playing next to all-time shooters like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, Green is the ideal type of player who excels as both a facilitator and an enforcer. Green shines on the defensive end where he showcases his brilliant understanding of opposing offenses. That being said, Green’s accolades don’t line up with overall production. A three-time NBA champion, multi-time All-Star, and two-time All-NBA Selection, Green benefitted immensely from playing alongside some of the game’s biggest stars.
When the Warriors were shorthanded in each of the last two seasons, Green failed to step into a starring role. In fact, Green was even less aggressive on the offensive end in games that Curry and Thompson have sat. He’s a player who can succeed in the perfect role on a good team, but he wouldn’t have made nearly as big of an impact for a lesser squad.
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6. Rudy Gobert — Utah Jazz
In terms of on-court value, Gobert might be underrated by several NBA pundits. He is the anchor of one of the league’s best defenses — a Jazz rotation that plays several average-to-bad defenders. Though Gobert has received a majority of the blame for Utah’s recent playoff flame out, all of the blame shouldn’t be placed on him. The Clippers were blowing by every Utah defender, and asking a 7-footer to defend a five-out offense is a recipe for disaster. For the most part, Gobert held his own defensively and did as well as most NBA centers would.
However, Gobert’s lack of development on the other end is severely handcuffing Utah’s offense. The Clippers were able to use a small-ball lineup against Utah because they had no fear of Gobert punishing a smaller defender on the block. This is a four-time All-NBA player we’re talking about, and he couldn’t consistently score against a team that was starting Marcus Morris at center. If Gobert were to ever develop a post game or a reliable jumper, he would certainly start garnering a bit more praise.
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5. Ben Simmons — Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons is arguably the most polarizing player in the league today. The 25-year-old has checked all the boxes of an ascending star. He was named Rookie of the Year in ’18, is a two-time All-Star, an All-NBA Third-Team selection, and an All-Defensive First-Team member. Simmons does a lot of things on a basketball court very well. He’s a supreme athlete who is virtually unstoppable in transition. He’s always had a great feel as a playmaker, and has developed into one of the league’s premier defensive stoppers.
However, until Simmons can become a more confident scorer he will forever be doomed to playoff mediocrity. We saw that manifest during last year’s playoff run — Simmons completely shut down on the offensive end down the stretch. His woeful free throw shooting and clunky spacing are detrimental. Once considered an untouchable commodity, the 76ers would be lucky to get an All-Star in a potential trade return for Simmons.
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4. Kyrie Irving — Brooklyn Nets
When Kyrie Irving is on the floor, he’s one of the most dynamic offensive players in NBA history. Period. His skill level is immense. Irving is arguably the greatest ball handler ever and is an elite under-the-rim finisher. He’s also a knockdown shooter who made the iconic Game 7 shot to topple the Golden State Warriors in 2016. That being said, it’s been a struggle for Irving to stay on the floor over his career — and that could once again be the case in 2021.
Two of his injury-plagued postseasons may have shifted NBA championships. The ’15 Cavs and ’21 Nets were considerable favorites before Irving went down. In total, Kyrie has been hurt for four-of-seven postseasons that his teams have reached. In addition to his lack of availability, Irving hasn’t enjoyed much success in the postseason since that memorable Game 7 shot. He joined the Celtics in 2018, and the team was routinely better when he was off the floor. Boston made it further in the postseason the year that Irving was sidelined with an injury than the year he suited up. The year after he left for Brooklyn, the Celtics once again made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without Irving.
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3. Russell Westbrook — Los Angeles Lakers
The all-time triple-double leader has always been a tad overrated. Westbrook is an athletic marvel who plays with an unlimited gas tank. He plays unlike any other star in the NBA. Westbrook battles like he’s the 12th man fighting for a guaranteed contract, not like a former league MVP who has achieved virtually everything as a player. Though, sometimes Westbrook’s gaudy numbers and infectious energy cloud some of his glaring weaknesses. There’s a reason why Westbrook-led teams have struggled immensely in the postseason.
Even while playing next to some of the league’s best — Kevin Durant, James Harden (twice), and Paul George — Westbrook has just one NBA Finals appearance to show for it (and that was nine years ago). He doesn’t make winning plays as consistently as the league’s superstars — and that’s who he should be compared to as a two-time All-NBA First-Team and five-time Second-Team selection. Westbrook settles for long jumpers too often for a player who shoots 30.5-percent from three over his career. He’s developed into a terrible foul shooter (65.6-percent last year), is a lazy defender, and is regularly among the league leaders in turnovers per game.
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2. Bradley Beal — Washington Wizards
When discussions about the best shooting guards across the NBA come up, it doesn’t take too long for somebody to mention Bradley Beal — and for good reason. Beal is a talented player who has come into his own in recent years. The former Florida Gator is a skilled offensive player with a smooth shooting stroke and great handle. Though he’s a bit undersized as a 2-guard, Beal has no trouble scoring over bigger defenders at an efficient rate. So, why is it that Beal-led teams struggle to win games?
Well, for one, Beal is slowly becoming one of the most detrimental defenders in the league. He’s a liability on that end, and it’s only become more apparent as he’s taken on more offensive responsibility. Washington hasn’t won 40-plus games since 2018 — the last time John Wall was an All-Star. Beal is also not as reliable of a three-point shooter as his reputation suggests. Over the last three years, Beal has connected on just 35-percent of his attempts from beyond the arc — the same mark as LeBron James.
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1. Damian Lillard — Portland Trail Blazers
There is no question of Damian Lillard’s standing among the league’s top players. He’s a top-10 player and has proven it time and time again. The Blazers function solely because of Lillard. He is one of the league’s most dominant offensive players, and can carry Portland to wins by launching three-point bombs one after another. Lillard has already solidified his spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t exempt him from being considered overrated.
Lillard’s overrated status stems from one particular reason — his standing next to his most similar peer, Stephen Curry. Some NBA fans have hinted that Lillard and Curry aren’t all that different. Even going as far as suggesting the Warriors would see no drop-off if Curry was swapped for Lillard. This is underselling the two-time league MVP and overrating Lillard at the same time. Lillard is an exceptional offensive player, but nowhere near Curry in terms of efficiency. Not to mention, Curry is a far more impactful defender, rebounder, and off-ball threat. The league’s top two point guards are further apart than some would like to believe.
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