It doesn't matter if you play 20 seconds or 20 years, to play in the NBA is an accomplishment and it deserves to be congratulated. It's a reward to many years of hard work and dedication. Millions and millions of kids from all around the world hope and dream to one day wear the jersey of a professional basketball team, and if you become part of the thousands that have done it, hats off to you.
Now that doesn't take away from the fact that we're all human. When we get a inch, we're going for that mile, as we always want more. The players on the list below aren't the exception. They wanted to be all-time greats, they wanted to shoot for the stars, but for one reason or another couldn't make it there. Although making it to the NBA was a dream, leaving it must be disappointing, not just leaving the league but the game you played for most of your life. But leaving the NBA doesn't mean basketball is over. China is taking plenty of the players that can't really cut it here anymore, and these guys might be next.
A lot of players who failed to find a team or a role in the NBA have packed their bags to play in China. They made a lot of money and had great careers over there, some of these names include Jason Maxiell, Michael Beasley, and of course a walking legend in China, Stephon Marbury. China does not always mean your NBA career is over, Michael Beasley made his way back and now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Some of the listed players could also do the same.
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15 Malcolm Delaney
Malcolm Delaney is a 6-foot-3 guard who has reached his peak as a role player. He has what most players that end up in China have, plenty of athleticism with limited fundamentals. One of Malcolm's biggest weaknesses is his jump shot, and most importantly, his three-point shot has been relatively inconsistent. The NBA in the last 3 to 5 years has turned into a shooters league.
Malcolm Delaney can probably buy a few more years in the league, especially on a team like the Atlanta Hawks that still maintains a somewhat old school kind of style, that focuses on inside big men like Dwight Howard, and occasionally Paul Millsap. Delaney had spent the last 4 seasons playing in Europe and there is a good chance that if the NBA doesn't work, China is the next destination.
14 Mike Scott
Mike Scott was recently traded to the Phoenix Suns and then waived shortly after. He is a player who throughout his career has been in and out of team rotation. When the Hawks reached the Eastern Conference Finals versus the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mike Scott had his best opportunity to prove his stature in the NBA by guarding one of the best players in history.
Plenty of analysts, insiders, and NBA commentators thought that Mike Scott would be one of the players the Hawks could try on LeBron, but his use was very limited in that series. He has not found a stable role in the league and his next destination is likely to be China.
13 Gerald Green
Gerald Green who already had a stint in China is a very good candidate to be there again. Throughout his career, Gerald Green has shown that he has little bit of everything; good handles, good shooting, while being a decent playmaker. He's also very athletically gifted, but has never seemed to be a real contributor on a good NBA team. The NBA seems to have an unwritten rule, a pattern that it seems to live by.
You can either be an absolute three-point specialist, a defensive specialist, a sniper, or a scoring player who can carry the team offensively. If not, you have to be able to play on both sides of the court. Gerald Green has proven that he will never be that guy to carry a team, and his defense isn't as good as it should be given his tools. Nevertheless, he is the blueprint of what is asked for in China.
12 Sean Kilpatrick
Sean Kilpatrick a 27-year-old player who went undrafted, who on a good day can probably get you 25 points. He deserves credit for working his way up from the D-League. Now, he plays for the Brooklyn Nets who are easily the worst team in the NBA. Sean Kilpatrick is a perfect example of how hard it is to be known as a great player in the NBA. No one will ever say that Sean Kilpatrick can't play.
In fact, he can play, and play very well, but that cliche of the 'it' factor comes to play with some players. A lot of players take that opportunity to show they can be the best player on a bad team, but when you can't prove that, you hold on in the league as long as you can then you pack your bags and head to China.
11 Isaiah Canaan
Isaiah Canaan epitomizes the definition of a sharpshooter. There is a saying that three-point shooters will always get paid in this league, and it's certainly true as long you're not so limited in every other aspect of the game. Isaiah Canaan is player who can't do much aside from shooting. He's not very tall, he's not very fast, he doesn't jump very high, but he can shoot.
The San Antonio Spurs have a player by the name of Danny Green, who in a NBA finals was making headlines by draining down threes. In the NBA, there isn't just players but great coaches, they make adjustments and develop players so they can use their other tools. Danny Green eventually developed those other tools, Isaiah has yet to do so. Maybe he can do better in China as his days in the NBA may be numbered.
10 Jarrett Jack
Jarrett Jack is a guy who you will never question his skill. Not too long ago, Jack was playing alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Jack always seemed to have a great future earlier in his career with the Portland Trailblazers. He followed it up with a good show in Toronto.
After a big contract and nagging injuries this season, Jack barely was able to get a ten-day contract with New Orleans Pelicans. Ten days normally don't lead to much and Jack has recently torn his meniscus, he's expected to be be out for the remainder of season. He may be looking at China where players of his age and talent can still be very productive.
9 DeAndre Liggins
DeAndre Liggins a player who has the luxury to say that at one point in his career he was utility player for both Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Liggins is the definition of a defensive specialist but in the NBA, you stop counting his strengths right there. DeAndre Liggins was never a guy that people were looking at as the next LeBron or Durant. But he did have the chance to be the next Trevor Ariza, Matt Barnes, Danny Green, or Andre Iguodala.
You may say to yourself those guys weren't superstars or even All-Stars, but they have been great contributors to their teams, and more importantly, made multi-millions in their lengthy NBA careers. Those guys were 3 and D players for the most part, Liggins had potential to be that but it's not looking good. Long, tall, and athletic is not enough to solidify your career in the NBA but it might work in China.
8 Reggie Bullock
Reggie Bullock always seemed to have all the tools but for one reason or another, has never been able to make a splash in any of the teams he has played for. He had minutes with the Los Angeles Clippers but never could find a role in a team that has always been lacking depth on their bench. Eventually, he landed with the Detroit Pistons, a team that was on the come up with a lot of young talent and it was more of the same.
I heard a great expression once that went a little like this, "If you draw the perfect basketball player from the ground up, he looks like LeBron James". Well if you draw Reggie Bullock, it may not be the perfect comparison but it's a pretty damn good one. Standing at 6'7, 220 pounds, he has a body that most people would be jealous of but his time in the NBA is running out.
7 Glenn Robinson III
Glenn Robinson is one of those kids who has the burden of filling some pretty big shoes. He is one of the youngest guys we've listed, so he may still develop into something but it's not looking like it as of now. His dad Glenn Robinson was a great player in the league. His father wasn't just a great player, he was an All-Star in the NBA. That adds pressure, without a doubt.
The Pacers currently don't know whether they should trade Paul George and rebuild, or bring help and try to contend. Either way, Robinson is part of gang of misfits next to Teague, Turner, and George. Robinson III definitely has the athletic ability, proven by winning the slam dunk contest, but the goods to sustain himself in the league don't seem concrete.
6 Tarik Black
Tarik Black is a undersized center who is full of energy and gives absolutely full effort every time on the floor, but he's not very skilled. They used to say this about DeAndre Jordan, "If I leave him all night alone in the gym and ask him not shoot from the paint, if lucky, he'll have 4 points". The same thing could be said about Tarik Black, although he can't jump as high.
Not that it takes a lot to be a better free-throw shooter than DeAndre Jordan, but Tarik Black isn't much better in that aspect, either. He doesn't finish well around the basket, he's not a good shooter, and he could be better defensively. His post up game is lackluster to say the least, most of the time being at a disadvantage as he's listed at only 6'9 at the center position. All of those elements are the perfect recipe to continue a career in China.
5 Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert leads us into the more talented portion of the list. Hibbert was actually an All-Star at one point, and a cornerstone player for the Indiana Pacers, who were able to hold off the Miami Heat during the regular seasons and snag first place in the Eastern Conference. Although during those same playoffs, things starting going wrong for Roy Hibbert. He had couple games where he couldn't reach double figures in points or rebounds.
The team as a whole faced elimination earlier than expected, and when they finally made it to the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Miami Heat, they were able to make it to six games, but honestly, it never really seemed like they had a chance. Since then, it has been downward spiral for Hibbert. He has failed to reach expectations, and China is real possibility in the near future.
4 4: Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass is a guy who has had a career that can be called fairly decent. He has played for good teams that always seem to have high expectations for him, but he has remained a decent player and not much more. Bass was part of a Boston Celtics team that was armed and aiming to contend for a NBA championship. He was playing alongside a number of future Hall of Famers, but he was a decent role player for that team.
After Boston, he also played with the Los Angeles Clippers, another team with a big 3, that was also looking to get over the hump. He was one of their key role players, but the Clippers haven't been able to advance past the second round. At 31 years of age, and with his contract expiring, there probably won't be many NBA offers on the table.
3 James Johnson
James Johnson has never been what you would call a "scrub". James has always been a middle of the pack type player, who has made a living by doing the dirty work, accompanied by his athleticism. James Johnson is in a similar lane as a previous player we talked about in Deandre Liggins with more talent. 3 and D could be a good role for him but he would have to make a significant improvement from behind the three-point line.
Johnson had a stint with the Toronto Raptors, where he showed his talent but the lack of a three-point shot has held him back in the league. He's currently having his best season with the Miami Heat, showing his versatility on the court, but has yet to find a role on a winning team in his career. China would be a great option for him as he could fill up the stat sheet with ease.
2 Rudy Gay
Rudy had potential to be a superstar in this league. Not only that, but plenty of teams handed him the reigns of their franchise to see where he could lead them, but sadly, he has failed to deliver. In Memphis, with a decent team around him, he was supposed to be the star of that team, but they played much better without him. He was traded to Toronto where he only played for half a season before being shipped again to Sacramento. Raptors also improved once he left.
With the Kings, he played with less talent around him but a superstar in DeMarcus Cousins, with nothing to show for it. Rudy may be a superstar, just not in this league. His recent devastating achilles tear injury is of course not helping his value or his career. With that being said, Rudy Gay is a great talent who could finally be the star that he's supposed to be in China.
1 Rajon Rondo
Remember when Rajon Rondo was in consideration for top 3 point guards in the league? He won a championship with the Boston Celtics while playing with 3 Hall of Famers. Even though he played with those greats, he wasn't just along for the ride. He was a leader on the court and a fantastic playmaker. When you have names like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, while being coached by Doc Rivers, you have to be special in order to run the team.
Rondo was eventually traded to Dallas, where he butted heads with the head coach and ended up leaving for Sacramento. He had decent numbers but it didn't reflect on the win column. Rondo has most recently joined the Chicago Bulls, but he lost his starting spot and has been apart of the ongoing drama. I see a lot of Stephon Marbury in Rondo, a guy with plenty of skills, but maybe a bigger ego, who is probably better off being a big fish in a small pond.
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