All of the players below were among the best in the NBA over the last 10 years. Signing multiple contracts and generally being in teams’ rotations is evidence of their excellence.
But compared to the media and fans’ perception of these players, there are strong cases that each was overrated.
This is an entirely subjective endeavor. There’s no advanced metric that measures whether a player is underrated, overrated or properly rated. There isn’t even a real surefire way to measure the perception of players.
The five players featured here had major statistical warts from the last 10 years (2012-13 to 2021-22), but teams just kept paying and playing them.
In a few cases—you’ll know them when you see them—there isn’t any argument that they shouldn’t have logged heavy minutes. They’re All-Star or borderline All-Star talents. But they just didn’t quite live up to the hype that’s surrounded them over the last decade.
But Bradley’s last All-Defensive selection came in 2016, and he’s seemingly been riding that reputation ever since. Throughout his career, his teams have generally surrendered more points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor.
Low block and rebound rates have contributed to Bradley’s below-average defensive box plus/minus. However, that number should be taken with a grain of salt.
“Box Plus/Minus is good at measuring offense and solid overall, but the defensive numbers in particular should not be considered definitive,” Daniel Myers wrote for Basketball Reference. “Look at the defensive values as a guide, but don’t hesitate to discount them when a player is well known as a good or bad defender.”
In combination with the aforementioned play-by-play data, it’s fair to at least use Bradley’s mark as that guide. And a slightly inflated value on defense isn’t the only point here.
Bradley has had an above-average true shooting percentage exactly once
Jamal Crawford was a fan favorite for two decades. He won three Sixth Man of the Year Awards, and he remains an ambassador of the game to this day. He also made more than $100 million
By any definition of the word, Crawford had a wildly successful NBA career. But over the last 10 years, plenty of numbers undercut the argument that he was a helpful player.
Since 2012-13—a period in which he secured two of his Sixth Man of the Year awards—Crawford’s teams were plus-0.3 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor and plus-7.5 when he was off. In his award-winning seasons, the swings were minus-3.1 and minus-7.0, respectively.
In 2013-14, reserves James Johnson, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and Draymond Green all had higher box plus/minuses than Crawford. In 2015-16, he was much further down that leaderboard.
While Crawford was known for taking tough shots and getting highlight-worthy buckets, he did so with efficiency that was nowhere near average. Over the last 10 seasons, he scored roughly 90 fewer points on his shot attempts (including free throws) than an average player would’ve scored during that span.
The preamble here is should sound a lot like the one for Jamal Crawford.
DeMar DeRozan is a great basketball player, even by NBA standards. You don’t make five All-Star teams and average more than 20 points for a decade-plus without having a ton of skill.
DeRozan’s more well-rounded play since he joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2018 better reflects the reputation he’s built over the years. But for much of the last 10 years, inefficiency, lack of defense and an unwillingness to adapt to the ongoing three-point revolution adversely affected his impact.
Since the start of the 2012-13 season, DeRozan’s teams have been plus-1.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and plus-3.8 with him off. His most recent campaign with the Chicago Bulls is the only one from that sample in which he had a positive swing.
Due in part to the fact that he’s so reliant on the mid-range—one of the tougher spots on the floor for efficiency—DeRozan has posted a below-average effective field-goal percentage in nine of the past 10 years.
During the mid-2010s, DeAndre Jordan was one of the league’s more positively impactful centers. From 2012-13 through 2016-17, the Los Angeles Clippers were plus-9.5 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor and minus-1.3 when he was off.
A look under the hood on those numbers is revealing, though.
In the same stretch, L.A. was minus-1.9 points per 100 possessions when Jordan played without Chris Paul. That number is more in line with what we’ve seen from Jordan over the last five years.
Since 2017-18, Jordan’s teams are minus-3.4 points per 100 possessions when he plays and plus-1.8 when he doesn’t. Among the 1,002 players who’ve logged any time in an NBA game in those five seasons, Jordan’s raw plus-minus of minus-576 ranks 966th.
Inattention on defense (especially off the ball), a lack of any offensive game beyond finishing spoon-fed dunks or the occasional putback and a comically bad free-throw percentage (48.2 during the last 10 years) all contribute to those marks. And yet, he continues to be signed year after year.
The Brooklyn Nets traded Jarrett Allen in January 2021 at least in part to make more time for him, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. This summer, his deal with the Denver Nuggets was one of the first announced when free agency began.
The trust in him is increasingly difficult to understand. As he enters his age-34 season, it’s hard to imagine the aforementioned trends reversing.
In 2020-21, Julius Randle became one of only six players in NBA history to average at least 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a single season. Oscar Robertson (who did it three times), Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Larry Bird and Wilt Chamberlain (all of whom did it twice) are the others.
Being on a six-player list with five surefire Hall of Famers is a heck of a distinction, but Randle’s numbers plummeted back down to career norms in 2021-22. That might lead to the belief that his breakout was actually an outlier.
Randle posted a 3.8 box plus/minus in 2020-21. His career high prior to that was 1.5, and he’d been below-average in three of the seven seasons in which he played at least 1,000 minutes.
Even with his All-NBA campaign factored in, Randle’s career net rating is minus-4.6. His teams are a more respectable minus-1.3 when he’s off the floor.
During the eight years since Randle was drafted, he’s proved his ability to pile up raw numbers, but they often come with an inefficient shot profile and lackluster defense.
Unless noted otherwise, all stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference, Stathead, PBP Stats or Cleaning the Glass.
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