There are a lot of really good players around the NBA, and in a league that has really changed over the last several years, players who may not have been all that useful 10 years ago are suddenly really important today.
But even with the NBA landscape changing and with the infusion of new talent into the game, there are some players whose value people tend to exaggerate or embellish.
The more popular term for that type of player is “overrated.”
Yes, overrated players still exist, just as much today as they did two decades ago.
So, here is a list of five overrated NBA players.
5. Kyle Kuzma
If Kyle Kuzma played in almost any other market, he probably wouldn’t be hyped as much as he currently is, so he wouldn’t make this list.
But, nevertheless, here he is.
Kuzma is a really nice young scorer, and he was certainly a steal at the 27th overall pick two years ago, but the hype surrounding him is getting a bit out of control.
What he is at the moment is a one-dimensional player who is not even all that efficient at the one thing he does best, and that’s scoring.
Kuzma shot just 30.3 percent from 3-point range and 75.2 percent from the free-throw line this past season, leading to a rather modest true shooting percentage of 54.6 percent. That isn’t terrible by any means, but it’s not exactly good, either.
For a guy who isn’t a good facilitator or defender, Kuzma really needs to hone his offensive game and become much more efficient as a scorer. That may very well come with time, but right now, people (mainly Los Angeles Lakers fans) are acting like Kuzma is better than he really is.
4. Khris Middleton
A few years ago, Khris Middleton was on pretty much everyone’s underrated list, and deservedly so. After all, Middleton is a good player. He is a good shooter, a solid facilitator and a fine defender.
But Middleton should not have been an All-Star this past year, and he is absolutely not worth the $178 million the Milwaukee Bucks just gave him.
The Bucks had to pay Middleton to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo happy; that’s not the issue. The issue is that Middleton is being treated as a No. 2 when he is really a No. 3, at best, on a title contender.
Middleton posted a true shooting percentage of 55.8 percent this past year, which was actually his lowest since his second season back in 2013-14, so the fact that he made the All-Star team was based solely on the fact that the Bucks had the best record in the NBA.
He is really more of a terrific role player rather than a star, and Milwaukee may end up learning that the hard way over the next few years.
3. D’Angelo Russell
I actually like D’Angelo Russell in Golden State, because he should fit well there and should help them make the playoffs next season with Klay Thompson sidelined for much of the year.
But since when did Russell become a legitimate star?
This is a guy who posted a true shooting percentage of 53.3 percent this past year and who owns a lifetime true shooting percentage of 51.9 percent. For a player who is a defensive liability, that is not nearly good enough.
Yes, Russell can get scorching hot for stretches, but overall, he is merely a high-volume scorer who doesn’t get to the free-throw line (just 2.5 free throws per game in 2018-19).
He is just 23 years old, so he can absolutely get better, but those who are acting like Russell is suddenly an elite point guard probably need to pump the brakes, because he simply isn’t there yet.
2. Tobias Harris
I get the appeal with Tobias Harris. He put up 20 points per game this past season, his offensive game looks really smooth and he’s a good guy. But $180 million for Tobias Harris?
Again, like Milwaukee with Middleton, it’s understandable why the Philadelphia 76ers did this. They gave up a lot of assets to acquire both Harris and Jimmy Butler, so they had to keep at least one of them to save face. But that doesn’t mean Harris isn’t overpaid and overrated.
Harris is a terrible defensive player (let’s stop sugarcoating it) who really is only a decent scorer, laying claim to a career true shooting percentage of 56.2 percent. Now, on the bright side, he posted a true shooting percentage of 59.2 percent this past year between the Los Angeles Clippers and 76ers, but he never came close to that any other point in his career. In 27 games in Philly, his true shooting percentage was … 56.2 percent.
Harris will probably be the Sixers’ No. 2 option behind Joel Embiid, and that’s not exactly what you want.
1. Zion Williamson
How can someone who has never even played an NBA game be overrated? I can just as easily ask how someone who has never even played an NBA game can make a bad team a playoff contender in the Western Conference, because that is where we are finding ourselves at the moment.
Zion Williamson is unquestionably an incredible talent, but the idea that the New Orleans Pelicans are suddenly playoff contenders because they drafted Williamson is nonsense.
People also like the other moves the Pelicans made, like acquiring Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart for Anthony Davis and going out and landing JJ Redick and Derrick Favors, but let’s face it: the primary reason for Pels hype is Williamson.
Williamson may very well become an outstanding NBA player, but as of right now, he is raw and relies more on his freakish athleticism than anything else. When you’re going up against grown men rather than college kids, relying on size and athleticism alone becomes more difficult.
So, at the moment: Zion Williamson is overrated. That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be fantastic. But right now, during the summer of 2019, he is overrated.