Voice Up: Who is the most overrated athlete in sports today?

Matthew Arena, Michael Gregory

James Harden only puts up big numbers when it’s easy

Matthew Arena

On some level, Houston Rockets James Harden is an undeniable superstar, if only because there are only a handful of players in the NBA who can do what he can with the ball in his hands. Yet how can a guy whose laughable defense constantly undermines his team’s ability to win games be called a superstar?

It is impossible to watch a basketball game and not be amazed by some of the step back three pointers Harden makes, or the new running one footed three pointer, that defenses can never figure out. It is also unbelievable to look at ESPN and see how many field goal and free throw attempts this guy puts up a night.

But here is why he is overrated. According to basketball reference, James Harden leads the league in these categories: points per game, total points, free throw attempts, free throws made, field goals missed, three pointers attempted, three pointers made, and field goal attempts.

It is one thing to lead the league in free throws, but it is another to also lead the league in field goal attempts. Remember, when a player drives to the basket and gets fouled, that does not count as a shot attempt. Every single statistic supports one claim: he shoots the ball more than anyone else at an average rate, so he scores more. It is how the game works. This is also the offensive side of the ball, where he is called the best offensive player in the world.

Now let us compare some of these stats to other “elite” players. Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo has made 20 more field goals, but has taken over 200 less attempts. Harden has taken 769 three point field goal attempts, and the next leading attempt is at 618. That’s a difference of 151 attempts, in half of a season, almost 3 more attempts per game. The third place is at 585. So of course he is going to lead the league in makes, that’s a direct testament to the amount he shoots. Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson has taken over 200 less three point attempts than Harden and is 18 off the lead for total made. That is an elite shooter.

Harden ranks 111 in three -point field goal percentage, behind names like New Orleans Pelicans Lonzo Ball who just recently learned how to shoot, and many others he should not be behind to be considered the offensive weapon that he is perceived to be. He is second in the league in turnovers.

There is no point in ripping apart a players defense when we already see it enough on House of Highlights for letting players get around him, and never giving effort on that side of the ball, so instead we can rip apart the method that truly tells if a player is elite. How do they do in the playoffs? Unfortunately, this is not going to go Harden’s way. A career .363 three point percentage drops to .330 in the playoffs; his 36.1 points per game last year that was so amazing dropped to 28.6 in the playoffs; and the only title he was close to winning was when he was on the same team as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka.

He simply does not raise his game to a different level in the playoffs like some players do. If you want to be considered the best of the best, that can’t mean throwing up the most shots in the regular season and then when the game gets tough and physical, back down into an even less effective player.

Harden has some cool tricks up his sleeve, but just does not have what it takes to be a superstar and is a very overrated player. He has time to win a championship in the remainder of his career but up-to-date, does not exactly have success written over his resume.

 

Aaron Rodgers is a good quarterback, but not a great one

Michael Gregory

Without a doubt, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of the most talented quarterbacks to play in the National Football League (NFL) in the past few decades. Rodgers is a strong candidate to have his jersey hung up in the pro-football hall of fame when he decides to retire, and has certainly had a great career. Sure, Rodgers has put up some fantastic stats, and he has fully broken out of the shadow of Brett Favre in Green Bay, but if you take a closer look, you’ll realize that Rodgers is simply a good quarterback, not a great one like so many think he is.

Rewind all the way back to 2016, the Green Bay Packers got off to a hot start, going a perfect 6-0 prior to their week seven bye. Things were looking good for the packers, until they finished the season 4-6 and exited the playoffs in the divisional round. At the time, Rodgers was 31 and in the prime of his career. The Packers posted two straight losing records in the following seasons (2017 and 2018) and in the time from the 2016 season to the beginning of the 2019 season, Rodgers posted a 24-24-1 record as a starter. Rodgers and the Packers faced a troublesome two and a half year stretch of mediocre results and low production. That stretch culminated in some drastic changes within the organization, and a 2019 season that revealed a lot about Rodgers.

In the offseason heading into the 2019 season, the Packers made the decision to fire their longtime head coach Mike McCarthy. They decided to hire a 39-year-old up-and coming coach Matt LeFleur. LeFleur brought a completely different demeanor to the Packers, as he is an offensive minded coach, and has a great reputation with quarterbacks, making him a perfect fit to work with Aaron Rodgers. In addition to hiring LeFleur, the Packers loaded their defense, adding multiple pro-bowl players to the roster via free agency. The stars were aligning perfectly for Rodgers to have one of the best seasons of his career, and expectations were sky-high in Green Bay.

The Packers 2019 season ended in a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, a game in which the Packers were losing 27-0 at halftime. By halftime, Rodgers had thrown for just 64 yards along with one interception and two fumbles, a horrific half for a quarterback in any level of football. The Packers season was over before the second half even started, and the manner in which the Packers season ended made me realize how glaringly overrated Rodgers is.

Although the 2019 Packers finished with a 13-3 regular season record (while playing a top 5 easiest schedule in the NFL), Aaron Rodgers struggled to produce consistently. Rodgers threw for less than 250 yards 11 times during the season, and finished outside the top-20 for quarterback rating (QBR) in the entire NFL. Quarterbacks such as Jameis Winston, Baker, Mayfield, and Derek Carr had a higher QBR than Rodgers. This was Rodgers’ third straight season finishing outside of the top 10 in the statistic; yet, somehow he still is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the entire NFL. Both ESPN and NFL Network released their rankings of quarterbacks going into the 2020 season, and both lists included Rodgers in the top five.

Defenders of Rodgers’ love to blame the Packers recent struggles and mediocrity on coaching, or a poor supporting cast for Rodgers. This season that argument was destroyed, as the Packers hired a new coach for Rodgers as well as providing him with a top-10 defensive unit. I’m not sure what excuses are left for Rodgers’ struggles and inability to produce at an elite level, but I can’t wait to hear them from Packers fans.