Determining the most overrated NBA players of all time is tricky since it’s subjective. However, we can pinpoint which players are overrated by understanding further their careers and taking a deep dive through their stats and accomplishments.
Most overrated NBA players of all time
Calling a player overrated doesn’t make them a bad player. In fact, this NBA overrated players list consists of many of the best players of all time. It just means that they are generally regarded to be better than they actually are. Reasons such as hype, popularity, reputation, and other factors outside basketball can overrate someone.
Here are the 25 most overrated NBA players ever…
25. Bob Cousy
Known for winning six championships in seven years, Bob Cousy was a great ballhandler and playmaker. However, he was inefficient as a scorer as he only connected only 37% of his field goal attempts throughout his career.
Moreover, Cousy had the luxury of playing alongside nine other Hall of Famers which inflated his stats and accomplishments as a player. He was a special player but his accomplishments are tied to his teammates and the different style of basketball that was played back then.
24. Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer was glorified during the “Bad Boy” Pistons era. He was a great role player due to his toughness and physicality, averaging 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. But outside of his role, Laimbeer didn’t excel at anything else.
His defense was non-existent, as he averaged less than a block per game throughout his career. Laimbeer also never registered a PER above 20 in any single season.
23. Jason Williams
Also known as “White Chocolate”, Jason Williams was an electrifying player to watch due to his creativity in dribbling and passing the ball. Watching him play is like watching a magician do his tricks.
However, despite his flashy style of play, Williams was atrocious in shooting the basketball. He shot 40% from the field and 33% from three throughout his career. He also turned over the ball most of the time, averaging over two turnovers a game in his first five seasons in the NBA.
22. Joe Johnson
Also known as “Iso Joe”, Joe Johnson was an elite isolation scorer who could consistently put up over 16 points a game. He was also a seven-time All-Star throughout his 18-year career. The question now is: What else does he offer besides scoring?
Johnson was a great scorer but it doesn’t translate to winning. He didn’t have a great playoff resume and didn’t get past the Eastern Conference Finals.
21. Robert Horry
A lot of fans overrate Robert Horry since he made some big shots in the playoffs and won seven championships. He was even given the nickname “Big Shot Rob” due to making clutch shots with different teams.
However, he was a role player who averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds on 42% shooting. Let’s also not forget that Horry played with a bunch of all-time greats such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan.
20. Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker was known for his versatility. He could score, rebound, and make plays. In his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Celtics, Walker averaged more than 17 points per game. However, his shot selection was questionable.
Despite his scoring ability, Walker was a professional shot-chucker. Throughout his career, Walker shot 41% from the field on 16.5 shots per game and shot 33% from behind the arc. He also went three straight seasons with 7.4 or more three-point attempts per game.
19. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan is one of the best midrange scorers in the NBA. However, despite averaging 21 points per game, he has never contributed that much to his team besides his scoring. He is a bad three-point shooter (29% career 3-point shooter) and a terrible defender.
He didn’t have that much success in the playoffs despite playing on teams with good systems and under great coaches. DeRozan also tended to disappear in the playoffs when he was needed the most. Still, a lot of fans love him due to his Kobe-esque style of play.
18. Glenn Robinson
One of the best scorers in NBA history is Glenn Robinson, averaging more than 20 points in his career. His scoring ability allowed him to punish smaller defenders and score anywhere on the court. However, he did this with poor efficiency. He was a black hole on defense and didn’t contribute much else on the floor.
Throughout his career, he only earned 20.5 offensive win shares and finished with a career PER of 17.5 This is rather poor for a former first-round pick and franchise player. Even with the poor efficiency, fans loved him due to his scoring prowess.
17. Tracy McGrady
A lot of fans love Tracy McGrady due to his athleticism and scoring ability. During his time, he established himself as one of the league’s best scorers, even better than Kobe Bryant. After he became an All-Star, McGrady averaged more than 24 points per game. Of course, we remember his heroics when he scored 13 points in 33 seconds.
However, McGrady didn’t have success in the playoffs. His scoring didn’t translate to winning any championships and was riddled with injuries down the line. He almost won the championship with the Spurs in the 2012-13 season as the last man on the roster but failed.
16. Allen Iverson
It’s no secret that Allen Iverson had a huge impact on the basketball community with his personality and style. He was also one of the best scorers of all time.
However, he did it on an absurd amount of volume. He was ranked fourth in shots per game in NBA history but shot under 43% from the field and 31% from behind the arc. Despite his scoring ability, his game never translated into winning. This makes him one of the most overrated NBA players of all time.
15. Yao Ming
Yao Ming becoming a cultural icon of China made him one of the most overrated NBA players ever. The hype and attention he received when he came to the league were through the roof, even comparing him to Shaquille O’Neal.
Throughout his career, Yao averaged just 19.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game despite being a 7’6″ center. Moreover, his career was plagued by a lot of injuries, playing in just 9 seasons in the NBA.
14. Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson was the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double, averaging 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game in the 1961-62 season. While these are great numbers, the game was different back then. Statistics were somewhat inflated due to the number of teams and players. Fewer players meant more shots which leads to increased scoring and rebounding.
This is the main reason why Robertson is one of the most overrated NBA players ever. Fans overrate him since he put up whopping numbers in the 60s when the game was entirely different.
13. John Stockton
There’s no doubt that John Stockton had a great 19-year career. His stats and accomplishments look good on paper. He averaged 13.1 points, 10.5 assists, and 2.2 steals per game and is the assists and steals leader. However, people are overrating him and even putting him in the conversation as the best point guard in NBA history, even before the likes of Stephen Curry and Magic Johnson.
Stockton helped the Jazz reach the playoffs for 19 seasons. However, they didn’t win any championships. Fans tend to overrate players who are good for long periods since their longevity allows them to rack up big numbers.
12. Pete Maravich
Pete Maravich was one of the best players out of college due to his ball handling, playmaking, and creativity. His game was so ahead of his time that fans started calling him “Pistol Pete”. In college, he averaged a ridiculous 44 points per game.
In the NBA, Maravich’s flashy game translated well in the regular season. He averaged 24 points per game in his 11 seasons in the NBA. However, he coughed the ball up at a high rate and was a defensive liability. He had a reputation for playing just for show since he was always playing on bad teams. His flashiness didn’t translate into winning games, especially in the playoffs.
11. Karl Malone
Karl Malone is one of the best power forwards of all time, ranking third in the NBA All-Time scoring list. However, his numbers may be inflated since he played with one of the best point guards in John Stockton and played under a good system.
Most of his numbers can be credited to John Stockton since he fed him the ball many times. The two of them excelled at the pick and roll and abused it endlessly. Moreover, Malone’s longevity allowed him to rack up points and rebounds consistently until the end. He is second all-time in minutes played.
10. Derrick Rose
A lot of fans love Derrick Rose due to him being the youngest MVP ever and having a plethora of posterizing dunks and athletic highlight plays. However, after winning the MVP in the 2010-11 season, Rose’s career went downhill due to his knee injuries.
In his MVP season, Rose averaged 25 points and 8 assists per game while shooting 45% on the field. These were good numbers and he was the best player on the best team in that season. Outside that season, however, he didn’t have any notable seasons and he was never the same player again.
9. Bill Walton
When we’re talking about college basketball, there’s no denying that Bill Walton is one of the best big men of all time. However, his college success didn’t translate well in the NBA, mostly due to his injuries. Apart from two good seasons, Walton’s career is nothing spectacular. Throughout his career, Walton averaged 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Walton missed 468 out of 1,146 games, that’s almost half of his career wasted due to injuries. He also had a huge contract that handicapped two franchises financially. Despite this, he’s still glorified in the league even up to this date, making him one of the most overrated NBA players ever.
8. Vince Carter
Vince Carter is arguably the best dunker ever. He was even compared to Michael Jordan due to his scoring and dunking ability. However, being great at dunking doesn’t make you a great overall player. He wasn’t the leader nor had that killer mentality that Jordan had.
His numbers were nice, scoring more than 20 points per game in 11 seasons throughout his first 13 years in the NBA. But that also didn’t help Carter win in the playoffs as he shot an abysmal 41% from the field. Despite being an electrifying dunker and scorer, Carter didn’t win a championship. Fans overrate him due to the countless highlights he had throughout his career.
7. Steve Nash
It’s no secret that Steve Nash is one of the best pure point guards in NBA history due to his efficient scoring and playmaking ability. He was an efficient scorer, scoring at over 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc, and 90% from the charity stripe. He was also a great playmaker, averaging 8.5 assists per game throughout his career. However, are those numbers enough to make him a two-time MVP?
First, Nash was one of the worst defenders during his time. Second, he was a turnover machine, averaging around four turnovers a game. And lastly, he didn’t win any championships. The fact that fans love him even with his glaring weaknesses makes him one of the most overrated NBA players of all time.
6. Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas had a monstrous three-year stretch with the Wizards, averaging over 25 points per game. It seemed that he was the franchise player that Washington desired and they signed him to a 6-year, $111 million deal. However, everything went downhill after signing this contract.
Due to injuries and other off-court issues, Arenas played in just a total of 47 games in the next three years. Even when playing, his game didn’t make any of his teammates better and he wasn’t much of a leader. This is the big reason why his 6-year $111-million deal is one of the worst NBA contracts of all time.
5. Dominique Wilkins
Also called “The Human Highlight Reel”, Dominique Wilkins is one of the best scorers and dunkers of all time. He averaged 26.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game throughout his 9-year career with the Hawks. But what he will always be remembered for is that he won two Slam Dunk Contests, even going head-to-head with Michael Jordan back then.
However, Wilkins didn’t have a great playoff resume. He only made the second round of the playoffs three times in his career and never got to the Eastern Conference Finals. Moreover, he was a liability on defense. All he did was score and dunk and that didn’t translate to winning when it mattered the most.
4. Stephon Marbury
We all hear Stephon Marbury as one of the talented point guards in the 2000s. His overall numbers were solid, scoring more than 15 points and dishing more than 7 assists per game in the first 11 seasons of his career. However, his scoring efficiency was atrocious, shooting around 43% throughout his career. Not to mention that his defense was equally poor.
In the playoffs, he was even worse, shooting under 40% from the field. Apart from his inefficiency on the court, he had some off-court issues with his teammates and coaches. As a result, Marbury didn’t win any championships, making him one of the most overrated basketball players in NBA history.
3. Steve Francis
Also known as “The Franchise”, Steve Francis averaged more than 20 points per game in his first four seasons and was a three-time All-Star with the Rockets. We also remember him for winning the Rookie of the Year award and being a runner-up in the Slam Dunk contest.
What makes him overrated is that Francis only made the playoffs once and only won one playoff game throughout his 9-year career. His explosiveness and ability to finish at the rim were indeed great. But that didn’t translate to winning. Despite being called “Stevie Franchise”, Francis never gave success to any teams that he played for.
2. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is one of the most prolific scorers of all time, ranking ninth in the NBA All-Time scoring list. However, his iso-centric style of play didn’t equate to winning games. Sure, he can put up a lot of points, but does it translate to winning? Moreover, he was a liability on the defensive side which became more evident later in his career.
Throughout his career, Anthony made the playoffs thirteen times and only advanced beyond the first round twice. Despite not having a great playoff resume and not winning a championship, fans tend to overrate him due to his scoring ability.
1. Kobe Bryant
There’s no denying that Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest shooting guards of all time, ranking fourth in the NBA All-Time scoring list. However, he was inefficient as a scorer, ranking first in total shots missed in NBA history. He shot under 45% and 33% behind the arc throughout his career.
Among the top 25 all-time scorers, Kobe ranks 15th in true shooting, 15th in win shares per 48, and 21st in field goal percentage.
Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality” also contributes to overstating his overall skills and accomplishments. Fans love this since it’s a mindset that they can apply to their everyday lives. This made Kobe an iconic player in the NBA. But not enough to include him in the GOAT conversation alongside Michael Jordan and LeBron James.