Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The 10 Most Overrated Players in the NBA

by John Huffstetler

The average fan overvalues the number of points a player scores dramatically. Newsflash, a player who shoots at a poor rate and scores over 20 points per game isn't a good player. The NBA All-Star Game is littered with overrated players who get voted in by clueless fans who vote for the flashy high-volume scorer (see the careers of Vince Carter and Allen Iverson). Essential elements of the game, such as passing, defense, and rebounding go largely undervalued. Below is my list of the 10 most overrated players in the league using advanced statistics that measure a player's ability to shoot efficiently, defend, rebound, and pass the ball.

10) Derrick Rose
- Chicago Bulls- I know this will be the most controversial addition to this list. After all, he is the reigning MVP of the league, but it is because he’s the MVP that Rose must be held to a higher standard. An MVP should be a top 5 player in the league…minimum. Rose, although still improving as a player, is not at that level and the statistics don’t lie. Rose ranks 37th among qualifying PG’s last year in Assist rate at 29.4. Assist rate basically measures how selfish a player is with the basketball with lower the rate indicating more selfish play. To give a comparison, Chris Paul had a rate of 61.34 and Rajon Rondo had a 79.00. He was also average shooting the basketball with an effective fg% of 48.5 (league average 48.2) and a true shooting 55 (league average 54.2). Other elite, high volume shooters still manage to shoot at higher percentages (True Shooting %- Dirk 61.2, Lebron 59.1, Steph Curry 59.2, DWade 58.1, and Durant 58.9 to name a few). Rose is a very good player that is still improving, but he is far from great at this point. Most of his teammates (Deng, Brewer, and Noah) are dramatically underrated adding to the misconception that Rose somehow carries his team. His shooting will continue to improve, he will learn to pass the ball better, and in a few years, he will reach the elite level handed to him undeservedly by so many at this point in his career.

9) Andray Blatche
- Washington Wizards- This one is almost too obvious, but he is the captain of the Washington Wizards after signing a 5 year, $35 million deal, and he has averaged around 18 points and 8.5 rebounds the last two seasons. In every aspect of the game of basketball, however, Blatche ranks below average for his position. Last year, his effective fg% was 44.7 and his true shooting % was just 49.7, both well below average for his position of PF. Although he grabs over 8 rebounds/game, his rebounding % is just 13.8, which ranked 103rd in the league last year. By comparison, teammate JaVale McGee finished 51st at 16.5%. Blatche's defense is disgraceful, with a defensive efficiency of 108 (league average is in the low 100's and lower is better). His wins produced for the Wizards so far this year is -0.2, which means the Wizards would be better this season statistically if Blatche took a nap on the sideline every game, and HE IS THEIR CAPTAIN!! Their entire mission this season should be to trade him to whatever team is clueless enough to accept him.

8) Joe Johnson- Atlanta Hawks- After other teams showed interest in the veteran swingman before the 10-11 season, the Hawks panicked and resigned their 3rd best player to a 6 yr, 119 Million dollar deal. Johnson is a pure volume scorer who doesn't shoot at an efficient rate, ranking slightly below league average in both true shooting % (51.7) and effective fg% (48.1). Taken alone, these stats are forgivable, even for a player with his lofty salary (5th in the NBA), but his defensive acumen is also questionable. His defensive efficiency consistently hovers around 1.10 point per possession, while, by comparison, teammates Josh Smith rates at 1.02 and Horford at 0.97. This statistic indicates that the Hawks play better defense when Joe Johnson is on the bench. Sometimes the right move is just to let a player leave; unfortunately for the Hawks (and myself as a Hawks fan), they are stuck with an overrated, aging swingman who will be 35 by the end of his absurd contract.

7) Chris Bosh- Miami Heat- Post players who tend to hang around the perimeter usually struggle for their position in two ways: 1) Their shooting suffers (Bosh's TS% is 56.9 and Eff FG% is 49.9), and 2) they fail to help their team gain extra possessions by hitting the boards (Bosh grabs just 13.6% of available rebounds). Inexplicably, Bosh, who is a career 28.8% 3-pt. shooter, is shooting 4 times as many 3's this season compared to last year and he continues to shoot a low rate. Prior to joining Wade and Lebron in Miami (two of the better on-ball defenders in the league), Bosh allowed 1.11 points per possession defensively while on the floor. Bosh clearly benefits right now from being surrounded by the top two players in the league.

6) Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest)- Los Angeles Lakers- World Peace (hilarious to call him that) continues to earn significant playing time on a Western Conference contender based on his reputation as a defensive stopper; however, he's been at best an average defensive player for 5 of the last 6 years. His rebounding rate has tailed off dramatically as well, reaching a pathetic 6.3% last season. His true shooting % of 48.5 and effective fg % of 46 are significantly below league average as well. To summarize, he isn't rebounding, he's shooting terribly, and he's defending at an average level. It's time to retire, World Peace.

5) Amare Stoudemire- New York Knicks- Although Stoudemire is a great high volume scorer in the league, he doesn’t rebound well and his defense is atrocious. Last year, Amare’s team scored an amazing 109 points per possession when he was on the floor; however, they allowed a pathetic 108 points per possession. His rebounding rate is abysmal at 12.7, which ranks 32nd among PF’s last year with at least 20 minutes played/game. This statistic is baffling given his size and the fact that before 2008, his rebounding rate was well above average, meaning he’s become significantly worse at rebounding the ball. He also used to be a much more efficient shooter, with an effective fg% consistently above league average and peaking at 59.2 in 07-08. Last year, his eff fg% dipped to 50.5 and he’s down to 42.5 so far this season. The only explanation for these two statistical declines is that Amare is spending more time outside the paint taking low percentage shots and is then unable to gather rebounds. If he can rediscover his strong post game again he will be off this list.

4) Brook Lopez- New Jersey Nets- Any big man who doesn’t rebound well or shoot at a high percentage is a major liability for his team. His total rebounding % of 10 is dismal for a center and ranks 2nd to last in the league for the position. His true shooting % is 54.9 and his effective fg% is 49.2, both below the league average, despite having the 19th highest usage rate (% of offensive possessions used) in the NBA. He also struggles defensively, allowing 110 points per possession when he is on the floor (compare to teammate Kris Humphries at 105). Lopez is merely an average big, yet there is talk of him being the major piece in the trade for Dwight Howard, should Howard go to New Jersey. Orlando should think twice about that move.

3) Carmelo Anthony- New York Knicks- Anthony sits on this list mainly because, like his teammate Amare, he plays deplorable defense with a 108 defensive rating. For a player considered top 10 in the league by many, this simply isn’t good enough. He also doesn’t shoot that efficiently with a 47.4 Eff Fg % and at 54.7 TS%. To compare with other players considered stars at SF spot in the league, Lebron has a 54.2 and 59.4 respectively, while Durant is 50.9 and 58.9 in these categories. To consider Melo elite is simply incorrect and that is why he is overrated.

2) Tyreke Evans-Sacramento Kings- Evans, like Rose, is still developing as an NBA point guard, which takes time. Unlike those Rose, however, I don’t think Evans will ever be a great point guard in this league. He shows no desire or willingness to pass the ball to his teammates as he has the 6th lowest assist rate among PG’s getting consistent minutes at 24.9%. His shooting from the field is borderline atrocious with a 43.2 eff fg% and a 49.9 true shooting %. His offensive wins produced last year was actually negative, which means Sacramento would have been better offensively had he never touched the floor. Instead, he led the team in usage rate (how many possessions out of 100 a player takes the shot) at 25.3. His defensive numbers weren’t much better as he had defensive rating of 109. Evans is a shooting guard playing out of position who lacks the ability to score efficiently and he will never succeed in the NBA.

1) Andrea Bargnani- Toronto Raptors- Statistically, Bargnani is the worst rebounder in the NBA for his position, securing just 8.6% of boards when he’s on the floor. Despite improving his ppg to 21.6, Bargnani dropped in both True Shooting % and Eff FG% to 53.3 and 48 (both below league average), respectively. His defensive rating of 115 last year ranks second to last among all qualifying players in the league. He rarely passes to set up his teammates, averaging only 1.8 assists per game. His complete lack of any intangible abilities on the basketball court make him my choice for the most overrated player in the NBA.

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Explanation of all Statistics Used- True Shooting %- A more accurate depiction of a players shooting value than fg% that weighs 3-pt fg's more and incorporates points earned on free throws as well.
Effective FG %- Similar to True Shooting %, except it measures only 3-pt fg's. It measures a player's ability to score from the field only.
Rebounding Rate- The % of available rebounds a player grabs while on the floor. Measures rebounding acumen more accurately than rebounds per game because it accounts for players on the floor missing a high volume of shifts.
Win Score- A measure of a player's value to a team using advanced statistics that quantifies the amount of wins a player produces for his team.
Offensive/Defensive rating- The # of points per 100 possessions a player's team scores/allows while he is on the floor. Accurate measure of how a player contributes to his team defensively or offensively while he is on the floor.
Assist Rate- # of scoring plays out of 100 that a player assists the score. Good measure of how well a point guard involves his teammates in the offensive flow.


  1. Great article, although I don't agree with Rose being overrated although I agree with some of the points...His supporting cast with the exception of Boozer are way better than people think.

  2. Thanks. Appreciate it. Most people are telling me I'm crazy about Rose, but I just don't think he's there quite yet.