The Rock is the rock that anchors HBO’s new scripted sports series, “Ballers.” As a washed-up NFL star turned hustler for Rob Corddry’s wannabe broker to the stars, Dwayne Johnson finds the perfect niche for his limited acting skills by channeling his experiences as a pro wrestler and a defensive tackle at The U to lend his character a realism that only an ex-jock could summon. “The U,” by the way, is the nickname of his alma mater, the University of Miami, where he played on the Hurricanes’ 1991 national championship team. And because “Ballers” is set in Miami, he should feel right at home.

The problem is that show — which premieres Sunday night at 10 EDT on HBO — is never worthy of his charm and charisma. But to his credit, he approaches it with all the enthusiasm of a Dolphin rookie recording his first sack. As well he should, given that it’s the first time in memory he’s been allowed to stretch something other than his ample muscles. And while he might not always be successful, you admire his fortitude to push the limits enough to believe that The Rock might evolve into a fine actor. But to do that, he’s must find better material than “Ballers,” a cliched mash-up of “Entourage,” “Jerry Maguire” and “Any Given Sunday,” with a little “Ray Donovan” tossed in for measure.

It works in fits and starts, but you admire its focus on black, nouveau riche athletes and their blind loyalty to the wrong people, often to their own financial detriment. “Ballers” presents us with a trio of such players, each at a different stage in their careers. They are: the recently retired Charles Greene (Omar Benson Miller), a behemoth teddy bear of a lineman who now moves cars instead of defenders; quick-tempered wide receiver Ricky Jarret (John David – son of Denzel – Washington), who’s burned so many bridges that he’s down to his last span; and hot-shot rookie defensive tackle Vernon Littlefield (Donovan W. Carter), a huge talent about to price himself out of the league.

How The Rock’s Spencer Strasmore fits into their lives is confusing at first. Is he their friend? Their agent? The answer is neither. Instead, he’s a hound dog for Corddry’s highly entertaining Joe, a kinder but no less obnoxious version of Ari Gold. Spencer sniffs out potential investors using his vast NFL connections and feeds them to Joe. Not very interesting, and not really all that funny, but The Rock always makes it watchable.

Yet, as co-creator of the series, along with his “Pain and Gain” co-star, Mark Wahlberg, Johnson fails to present a valid reason for the show to exist. It’s all flash and little else. It hints at meatier fare down the line (only the first four episodes were made available for review), with Spencer facing the very real possibility he’s developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, as a result of numerous concussions sustained during his career. But that might be a bit too heavy for a show built on the template of Wahlberg’s “Entourage,” complete with hot cars, cool chicks and enough extravagance and opulence to make any viewer green with envy. What both shows lack, though, is a reason to care about their characters. They’re rich, spoiled and have egos too big to ever see the error of they’re selfish, chauvinistic ways. Although it’s fun to watch them try to justify their actions, not just to themselves, but to everybody who has the misfortune of entering their orbit, it’s not enough to sustain a series.

Especially one on a network that’s set the gold standard for comedies with “Veep,” Sex and the City,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” “Ballers,” true to its vernacular, couldn’t hold their jocks. But it does have The Rock, and for now, that will have to do until “Ballers” finds someone better to draw up its plays.

BALLERS Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Rob Corddry. Debuts at 10 p.m. EDT Sunday on HBO. Grade: B-