Why the Term ‘Superstar’ Is Used Too Loosely in the NBA

October 5th, 2012 by Ethan Sherwood Strauss Leave a reply »
What is the difference between a "star" and a "superstar?" Is there a definition? Do we apply the Supreme Court, "know it when I see it" rule to such a standard? 

Part of the issue—aside from how difficult basketball is to statistically quantify—is the conflation of celebrity and productivity. A hyper-efficient basketball player will often get celebrity, assuring him of "superstar" status. But there are other means to getting noticed in this manner. 

Often, an incredibly fun to watch player gets bestowed with superstar status. Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony come to mind as good players who benefit from market status and entertainment value. 

Rajon Rondo might be a perfect example of superstar form over function. In the regular season, Rajon's only 21st among point guards in John Hollinger's PER and his team struggles to make shots (27th in offensive rank, according to Basketball Reference). 

There is a legitimate reason for regarding Rondo as a superstar, though. He has skills that few other players possess, and if he can improve that jump shot (shooting has tended to improve over the course of his caree ...

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