The 2019 NBA free agency class is one of the strongest in recent memory.
Although the NBA Finals is still in full swing, free agency rumors are swirling as the June 30th start date rapidly approaches.
With teams preparing to hand out large deals in hopes of landing a marquee free agent, here’s a look at four of the most overrated players in the 2019 class.
Look, there’s no doubt about it that Kyrie Irving is a top-end talent in the NBA. The player with arguably the best handles in the league is a six-time NBA All-Star and will largely be remembered for his Game 7 sealing three-pointer over Steph Curry to give the Cavs their first NBA Championship in franchise history.
With all that in mind, Irving is not a franchise player.
Prior to earning his 2016 NBA title, Irving was a stat sheet stuffer on a helpless Cavs team year after year. It wasn’t until LeBron James joined the picture in 2014 that he got his first sniff of playoff basketball. Irving excelled statistically during his time with James, yet he was criticized by James for not being a “true point guard.” Although he put up big scoring numbers, Irving never averaged more than five assists per game during his time in Cleveland with LeBron.
After losing the NBA Finals in 2017, Irving demanded a trade and wanted to be the star of a team. He was then shipped off to the Boston Celtics, where he struggled to be the lead option on the team. As a matter of fact, the Celtics played better without Irving during the 2018 NBA playoffs, where they lost in Game 7 against the LeBron-led Cavaliers. Just two years removed from being traded to Boston, Irving is already likely on the move again.
At 27 years old, Irving is still in the prime of his career. He’s going to attract a massive multi-year contract with money worthy for a superstar. As good and as offensively explosive Irving is, he has constantly proven that he doesn’t have the ability to be a franchise player. Instead, Irving is a top-tier talent who works best as a complementary player to another star. However, this free agency, Irving will demand and receive a max contract that he doesn’t deserve, making him one of the most overrated free agents in this year’s class.
Prior to his Achilles injury, Cousins was on a tear during the 2017-2018 NBA season. He averaged a double-double with 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game while also adding a career-high 5.4 assists per game for the New Orleans Pelicans. Since tearing his Achilles, Cousins has joined the Warriors and seen his statistics drop in nearly every category. Although this can be credited towards him returning from his injury and playing on a stacked team, it appears that Cousins may never be the player he once was.
Well-known for his temper tantrums and impressive ability to draw technical fouls, Cousins is often regarded as a controversial figure. In this year’s finals, Cousins struggled after he recovered from a torn left quadriceps. In seven games over the course of this year’s playoffs, Cousins shot 39.6% from the field and averaged 7.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
With this offseason likely marking the last chance for Cousins to garner a long-term deal, expect someone to be willing enough to throw him the kitchen sink. However, at the age of 28 with a recently torn Achilles, Cousins should be paid as a solid NBA center, rather than the money of a superstar. With all expectations being that Cousins makes substantial money this offseason, he is one of the most overrated players in free agency from a value standpoint.
There’s no doubt that Tobias Harris is one of the top-end forwards in the league. Although he excelled as the top option for the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Harris is better suited in the role he played with the Philadelphia 76ers, that of a complementary player. Harris averaged 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game during his time with the 76ers. At the moment, It will be quite difficult for the Sixers to clear enough cap space to resign both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Although they have tried to make some moves recently to clear cap space, Butler and Harris are expected to test the free agency market in search of long-term deals.
With that in mind, Harris is one of the most overrated players in the 2019 free agency class based alone upon the fact that he will likely receive a max contract. With teams desperate to add a player like Harris, there’s no doubt his market value will surpass his true worth. Although he’s proven to be a solid NBA player, Harris is no more than the third best player on a championship contending team. Whether or not a contender ends up signing Harris to a long-term deal, Harris’ skill set does not warrant a max contract under any circumstance, making him one of the most overrated free agents of the 2019 class.
The 2015 2nd overall pick lived up to his potential last year, averaging a career-high 21.1 points and 7 assists per game for the Brooklyn Nets. Russell’s stats were good enough to give him his first All-Star appearance and help the Nets lock up the sixth seed, warranting a playoff berth.
As good as Russell was last season, early speculation has the Nets focusing in on Kyrie Irving rather than retaining Russell. With that being the case, it looks like Russell could be on the move just a year removed from having a career-best season. At the age of 23, Russell’s ceiling is among the highest of all guards in the league. He’s currently an RFA with the Nets, but if the team is successful in signing Irving, it’s highly unlikely Russell will be retained for both contractual and fit reasons.
It appears that Russell is demanding a max contract and due to his age and potential, he will probably get one. Given his limited display of consistent success, this makes Russell one of the most overrated top-end free agents this offseason.