The term "overrated" is thrown around by sports media and fans on a regular basis. However, what does being "overrated" actually mean, and how do you quantify it?
We have some great statistical tools we can use to answer this question. First, there is nothing more glamorous in basketball than scoring points. People always tend to look at big scorers as "studs". One has to wonder though: how truly effective are some of these guys? Since we have the ability to look at on court/off court numbers (+/-), we can determine precisely how effective these players are at helping their teams win games.
The plus/minus metric can be calculated by looking at team scoring when a player is on the court, team scoring when the same player is not on the court, and finding the difference. Around 2003, Roland Beech of 82games.com brought this concept to NBA basketball...and a few years after that, the league made +/- a part of it's official boxscore statistics.
We restricted our candidates to players who score at least 17.0 points per game...and you may be surprised to learn that each and every one of the point producers on our list have a negative +/- rating! So, despite pretty impressive individual scoring averages, all of the teams these guys play for perform better when they are not on the court!
We've decided to rank these players by how poor their +/- is...all of them score well, but some of them are not even close to helping their clubs in terms of team scoring differential.
This is a list you don't want to be on as a player, and if you are, you sure don't want anybody to know about it! Let's see which NBA players will likely be trying to keep their bosses from reading this article:
5. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
Alright, let's take a look inside Rudy Gay, he made more than $15 million in salary this season, he scores 19 points per game - and the team is slightly better off when he's not in the game. Gay is a 6-9 forward who was chosen 8th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. He's a talented player who can score in bunches, but this season, he was unable to turn his personal production into team victories. Points are nice, but that scoring average rings hollow when you look at the other side of the coin!
Knicks fans were delighted when the team pulled off a trade to get scoring machine Carmelo Anthony from Denver in February, 2011. Maybe those fans should have kept the cork in that champagne. Anthony definitely puts up numbers, scoring 22.6 ppg in 2011-12. However, he also made a salary of $18.5 million, and for that cash, New York got a player who made the team one point worse per game when he was on the floor. I guess it's true: be careful what you wish for!
Interestingly, your author did some similar research a few years back, and Kevin Martin had a negative +/- that year too, despite scoring 23.7 points per game for Sacramento. Martin now plays for a different team, but the results are the same. In the eyes of most, Martin has turned into a draft steal after being selected 26th overall in 2004. He's a terrific shooter/scorer, but his game just doesn't seem to lend itself to helping his team win. You have to wonder how many NBA executives are aware of this trend?
2. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
The Knicks thought they hit the lottery when they signed Stoudemire as a free agent, then brought in Carmelo Anthony via trade. Perhaps the New York front office would like to take a Mulligan? Like Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire is pulling in over $18 million in salary, and like Anthony, the team is statistically better off without him. In fact, -8.8 is a putrid number. The Knicks are not only better without Stoudemire on the court, they are a lot better!
For those of you who see Jennings' game as me-first and feel he is overrated, here's your statistical proof. Brandon Jennings is a quick point guard, who can get anywhere he wants on the court, and get any shot he wants...but in this case, that isn't necessarily a good thing. Jennings is a dynamic scorer, but doesn't pass as well or as willingly as you might want from your starting '1'. There are other flaws in his game as well, but producing points is certainly not one of them - Jennings scored 55 points in a game as a rookie back in 2010.
There are players in sports who seem to have that "certain something" that allows them to will their team to victory, whether they have great individual statistics or not. There are others, who despite being productive statistically, just can't seem to take their teams to a higher level. It's possible that some or all of the players on this list could contribute to winning under different circumstances. However, they simply didn't get it done on a team level in 2011-12.
Let us know what you think! We miss anyone or any of the above deserve to be excluded from the list? Comment Below!