Every season player salaries seem to rise to new heights. Unfortunately, not all the players receiving the riches play to a level their contract dictates. Notable underperformers who have received rich paydays and then failed to live up to them are Allan Houston in New York, Joe Smith, and Josh Smith formerly of Atlanta and Detroit.
In Houston’s case, he signed a 6-year $100 million contract in 1999 after a great playoff. However, by 2001, knee problems derailed his usefulness to the Knicks and they were stuck with that awful contract until the CBA allowed them to waive an unwanted contract under the “Allan Houston Clause” without it counting against the salary cap.
Sports and the NBA, in particular, is a "what have you done for me lately" industry. However, the players are always getting rewarded greatly on past honors and merits. Here is a quick look at 5 overrated players in the NBA right now.
#5 Draymond Green
Draymond Green is a three-time NBA Champion. He is also a 3-time NBA All-Star and the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year winner. Draymond Green is also a very braggadocious player which either means he is super self-confident or he is making up for deficiencies in his game. Green does a lot of trash-talking during games to opponents but let that slip over to teammates and had a now-infamous spat with teammate KD on court, during a game in November 2018.
However, it's not just Draymond Green doing the talking. The Athletic published a poll in this past season in which 47 anonymous NBA players ranked Green and Russell Westbrook as the two most overrated players in the NBA.
It's not just his peers and colleagues who make the case for Green being overrated it's also the stats. Green has shot less than 31% from 3-point range each of the last three seasons dipping to a career-worst, since his rookie season, in 2018/19 at 28.5%.
There has also been no demonstrable improvement in his offensive output as he averages 9.1 ppg for his career. Once again in 2018/19, he saw that number decline to just 7.4 ppg. His lack of production cannot be attributed to a decline in minutes played as he played over 31 minutes a game this past season.
#4 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is another ball-dominant point guard who is in the conversation most seasons as an MVP candidate. The problem with Westbrook, though, is his style of play is outdated and does not fit the current style employed in the NBA. So, while he is successful and highly productive, it's not a style of play that has led to championships for the OKC Thunder.
Three straight seasons of averaging a triple-double is simply outstanding. However, in a league that values shooters, and long-range shooting, Westbrook is a career 30% shooter from the 3-point arc and has shot below 30% from that range each of the last two years. If he is getting worse at this ultra-important skill at age thirty, his usefulness to the Rockets will wane quickly.
In a poll put out by the Athletic, earlier this season, Westbrook's colleagues, at least 47 of them listed him anonymously as the most overrated player in the league. Westbrook is owed an unbelievably high amount over the next 4 years at a total of $170 million.
Now that he has been traded to Houston, he will play alongside a former OKC Thunder teammate and fellow ball-dominant guard in Houston. Something has to give between how much Harden and Westbrook handle the ball. Its likely Westbrook's production will have to be sacrificed for the good of the team.
#3 Andrew Wiggins
The Minnesota Timberwolves had the fortune of being the team that received Andrew Wiggins so that LeBron James and the Cavaliers could go chase NBA Championships from 2014 to 2018. The first overall pick of 2014 has played his entire 5-year career in Minnesota. However, the October 11th, 2017 contract extension for 5 years $148 million he signed may be somewhat overpriced given his efforts on the court have declined the last couple of seasons.
Wiggins hit the 20 ppg average in the 2015/16 season and followed that up with a 23 ppg average in 2016/17. However, in the two seasons following that he has regressed to scoring averages of 17.7 ppg and 18.1 ppg this past season. He is an average 3-point shooter at 33.2% and is talented enough to give you games of greatness but not consistently.
In five years, he and the Minnesota franchise have appeared in just 5 playoff games even though he is second on the T-Wolves all-time scoring list at the moment. A change of scenery via trade night do Wiggins some good.
#2 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler was drafted 30th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. Jimmy “Buckets” as he is known has carved out a solid NBA career as a good scorer and defender. However, he is somewhat of a franchise killer as he has been a member of 4 teams now since he was initially traded away from Chicago in the summer of 2017 to Minnesota.
He was subsequently traded to Philadelphia earlier this past season and then this off-season was involved in a sign and trade which saw him moving to Miami. There is no word yet who he will play for in 2020, but be sure, if Butler is not happy, his new 4 year $142 million contract will not stop him moving again. He had problems with teammates and management in stops in Chicago, Minnesota, and head coach Brett Brown in Philadelphia. His style of play also affected Joel Embiid for a short while this season in Philadelphia.
From 2014/15 to the close of the 2017/18 season, Butler had 4 years with him averaging over 20 ppg. However, in Minnesota and Philadelphia in 2018/19, Butler’s scoring average fell to 18.7 ppg. In the last 2 seasons, his teams have played a total of 17 playoff games, winning 8 and losing 9.
There is a lot of hype around a player who leaves teams high and dry and hasn’t contributed to winning important games enough to justify that hype.
#1 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving tops this list and it’s a tough choice but deserving for all the wrong or right reasons. He is a splendid ball-handler, an elite finisher, and a mega-talent in the NBA but he is not a team player. He left Cleveland after having made the NBA Finals with the side for three consecutive seasons, stating, “I think it was the best move for my career.”
So, in the summer of 2017, he was traded to the Celtics and had to watch the 2018 playoffs from courtside due to a knee injury. What had to hurt even worse, is that the Celtics, where he got traded, were Eastern Conference Finalists in 2018 losing a 6-game series to Cleveland but not before taking a 2-0 series lead.
It meant young talent such as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and others were a good nucleus of young talent for Boston to build a franchise around. It had to also hurt that the same team he abandoned a year earlier, by demanding a trade, Cleveland, was back in an NBA Finals for a 4th straight year.
Irving had a chance to lift Boston to new heights in 2018/19. He failed miserably with the Celtics managing to finish 4th in the East. They played a horrible 2nd round series against the Bucks in which Kyrie Irving was a significant underperformer with lackluster defense and poor shot selection.
In what was a rather bold statement, Kyrie claimed that “The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team.”
Since Irving was an NBA Champion with Cleveland in 2016 it should have fallen to Irving to direct and guide his younger Celtics teammates. Instead, Irving’s commitment to winning had him opt out of his player option with the Celtics and sign a 4-year $141 million deal to play in Brooklyn.