Consistently the NBA fans are talking about who is overrated or underrated. The obvious choices being draft picks not living up to the hype or a superstar not delivering for a few games. Sometimes, these players make a big impact for their team–look at Derrick Rose. He is playing above expectations, but no one would consider him underrated. Rose won an MVP in 2011 and has since battled injuries in less than stellar years. This is a resurgence, not above par for him. The other players in the league that have realistic expectations to fill can earn the tags of underrated or overrated, here’s a look at five of each.
The 5 Most Underrated and Overrated Players in the NBA
The 5 Most Overrated Players
When articles start coming up about how a player could be better suited coming off the bench, it’s time to revisit how good they are. Wiggins has always had the shadow over him when he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers 1st overall and then traded to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. This of course due to LeBron James return to the Cavaliers. Since the departure of Jimmy Butler, Wiggins has had the opportunity to shine. His play isn’t necessarily bad, but costing the Timberwolves $25 million this season and up to $33 million in year five, is just not a great contract.
Before this becomes a bashing segment, it’s well known that the Celtics have some roster issues this season. They have too many players and all are talented. With that being said, when Hayward is on the court, he’s just not pulling his weight. Hayward, of course, suffered a serious injury last season and is slowly coming back but he is averaging the lowest in nearly every category since his rookie year. Until he gets back on track, he has to stay on this list.
Here’s a player that was thought to be on a resurgence path. Well, not quite. After a disappointing first two seasons in San Antonio, Aldridge had an outstanding season in 2017-18. Now, there seems to be a slight dropoff in his play, along with an all-star selection. It seems unwarranted. He is averaging just under a double-double and those are high numbers, but with Kawhi Leonard departing from the Spurs, he should have taken control of the team in a leadership role.
After a tenuous situation for the Phoenix Suns, Bledsoe has found his place on a contending team. However, he’s just not performing at a level that is consistent when you’re teammates with a possible MVP candidate, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s posting his lowest averages in points in his career as a starter and underwhelms on the court. This team is likely heading for the Eastern Conference Finals.
This is bound to make fans unhappy, but there just isn’t any compelling statistic that shows Green is the 4th, and maybe the 5th best player on this team. Understandably, that is still a successful position to be in. However, Green is posting some of the lowest averages of his career and still manages to play more than 30 minutes a game. The premise of this ranking is a bit biased because the Warriors are just so good and to be outshined by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson is not a bad place. It’s just that Green is usually so highly touted as this defensive force and still produces slightly average numbers.
The 5 Most Underrated Players
There’s nothing like seeing an ex succeed after you dumped them. The Los Angeles Lakers may be feeling a bit unhappy seeing Randle perform for the Pelicans. Given the freedom to play to his strengths, Randle is a great addition for nearly any team. The Pelicans have let him play his style and with the impending departure of Anthony Davis, there is going to be a large void to fill with usage. Randle has put up career highs in shooting percentages and points per game. Alongside Jrue Holiday and a young core, Randle could easily take a leading role in years to come.
Since a trade sent him to the Kings, Hield has seemingly found the perfect fit for his style. Playing alongside De’Aaron Fox and fellow young pros, Hield has emerged as the primary scoring threat. According to BetEasy’s NBA odds, he is also on the list for Most Improved Player for the 18/19 season. Yet, Fox seems to get most of the attention when talking about the Kings. This is mostly due to Fox only being in his second year, but Hield has only played one more year. The overshadowing maybe due to the fact that he wasn’t drafted by the Kings.
The Pacers were in the race for the Eastern Conference Championship before an unfortunate injury to Victor Oladipo. Now with Oladipo down for the year, the Pacers may still earn a playoff spot but it may be short-lived. Sabonis was packaged with Oladipo from the Oklahoma City Thunder a few years back and this season has nearly averaged a double-double playing under 25 minutes per game. He is nearly at the top of the Pacers roster in some key statistical categories despite coming off the bench for the most part.
The retirement tour of Dwyane Wade has overshadowed anything in Miami. Richardson is leading this team. He is currently posting the highest averages of his career and has the team behind him. Yet, the 37-year-old Wade still pulls headlines. In the next seasons, Richardson is going to become a household name. With his rise, Miami just may become a hot spot for free agents to come to as well. A young roster and a talent like Richardson is easily turned into a Finals contender.
Usually, the third best player on a team isn’t considered underrated at all. Yet, when those two teammates are Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, that is easy to fall out of the public eye. Nurkic is quietly becoming one of the best passing centers in recent memory. As with these other four players, Nurkic is posting his highest averages in his young career. Additionally, with his help, the Blazers could find their way in the 2nd round of the playoffs after an early exit last season. Perhaps a strong showing from Nurkic will get him off this list and into an all-star game in the future.
When using labels like overrated or underrated, there’s an obvious sense of “hot-take” in the decision. Most opinions about sports are layered in biases about who is watching which team and how often certain players are seen on television. The NBA is so heavily covered that it’s difficult for players to go under the radar, but media coverage is fickle for teams not in Los Angeles or New York.
Embed from Getty Images