The NBA season is underway and there are a lot of surprises that are taking the league by storm. The Boston Celtics are on an impressive 12 game winning streak after losing their first two games of the season with All-Star forward Gordon Hayward out for the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder got stronger in adding All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony into the fold which will benefit in the long run. The Cleveland Cavaliers are playing under .500 basketball, allowing for a potential new champion in the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like the leader in MVP votes through the first part of a long and grueling season. Yes, there have been some nice surprises in the league thus far. But with all of the good of course has to come the bad to balance everything out.
There have been a lot of bad aspects of the league so far this season. Like we just said, Gordon Hayward is out for the season with a broken leg which destroys his first season with the Boston Celtics. Lonzo Ball has the biggest target on his back every game ever since his father Lavar has made outlandish comments to make Lonzo look like the next Michael Jordan. The Knicks and Suns have been dumpster fires when it comes to what direction they want to go in. With all of this in mind, we already have our list of bad free agent signings and draft picks that were expected to do more; but frankly are not holding up their end of the bargain. Let’s dig deeper into some of these draft picks and signings that aren’t looking too hot so far in the NBA.
15. Free Agent Signing: Tony Allen
The first free agent signing to consider is a guy not really known for his shooting ability, but still has a good reputation as being one of the best defenders in the NBA. He even has drawn respect from top players in the league such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He spent his first six seasons as a member of the Boston Celtics before joining the Memphis Grizzles for the next seven of his career.
Tony Allen has established himself as one of the best overall defenders in the NBA. Although he isn’t quite the best jump shooter in the league, he has made a name for himself with defense and driving to the basket. He signed in the offseason with the New Orleans Pelicans to a one year, $2 million deal. So far this season, he is averaging only five points and two rebounds per game. So the real question is, why did they sign Allen in the first place? Sure, he plays great defense but they already have two top scorers in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. They also look to be in a rebuild coming soon as Davis is involved in trade talks and Cousins is in the last year of his contract.
14. Draft Pick: Justin Jackson
The Sacramento Kings are a team in a total youth rebuild ever since they traded DeMarcus Cousins last season at the trade deadline. They had two picks in the top 15 of the 2017 Draft. They took De’Aaron Fox at number five and he seems to be fitting into the Kings quite nicely. They also kept an eye on the pick at number 15 that would potentially be helping out Fox right away if a trade was going to happen. It seems like he is having a bit of a slow start.
Justin Jackson was a small forward from the University of North Carolina that helped the Tar Heels win a National Championship in March. Some saw Jackson as a top 10 pick with his versatility, athletic ability, and size. He slipped down to number 15 to the Portland Trail Blazers, was traded to the Kings, and the Kings thought they got a steal in the draft to help Fox out. Unfortunately, Jackson has been significantly underachieving. He is averaging seven points and two rebounds per game. He is still young and can still develop into a solid two way player.
13. Free Agent Signing: Trey Burke
The New York Knicks are another team that seem to be going into a long period of rebuilding around star forward Kristaps Porzingis. They added other pieces in the offseason such as Tim Hardaway Jr. Phil Jackson was relieved of his duties and Carmelo Anthony is enjoying having All-Star teammates in Oklahoma City. They recently just brought in this former Michigan standout. But the question remains: why did they do it?
He averaged 12 points a game for the Jazz before heading to Washington to play for the Wizards. He didn’t see much time with John Wall and Bradley Beal in front of him. So he left once again to go to the New York Knicks, but now he is playing for their G-league team. Why sign a guy just throw him down into the G-League or D-League or any league that isn’t the NBA squad? New York continues to be a mess and the signing of Trey Burke proves that.
12. Draft Pick: Malik Monk
The University of Kentucky continuously puts together these young teams and somehow continue to have some of the best teams in the country year in and year out. John Calipari is a big advocate of the “one and done” rule. He has these superstars come in for one year, have tremendous seasons, and then move on to the NBA when he thinks they are ready.
Malik Monk helped the Wildcats advance to the Elite Eight before bowing out to eventual champion North Carolina 75-73. Monk went to the Hornets with the 11th pick and looked to be a good sidekick alongside All-Star point guard Kemba Walker. Monk is doing okay, but not what he and everyone else in Charlotte was expecting. He averaged just under 20 points a game at Kentucky, and is averaging just under 10 points a game so far in his NBA career. For a guy with so much hype, he certainly isn’t living up to it so far. The season is young, but unless he raises that number up to prove he can handle being alongside a guy of Walker’s caliber; he will be looked at as a disappointment.
11. Free Agent Signing: Vince Carter
Anybody remember the good old days of the NBA slam dunk contests? The times when athletes didn’t need props and other teammates to help them and just relied purely on the creativity of the dunk itself? This man was known league wide for his explosive first step and thunderous dunks. He has been in the league for two decades now and had to develop more of a jump shooter type mentality. He is an eight time All-Star, but it seems like his better days are behind him.
Vince Carter made a name for himself in the earlier part of his career with the Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets. He has since made stops with the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, and Memphis Grizzles before signing this past offseason with the Kings. This move doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Vince is 40 years old, the Kings want to go in a younger direction, and Carter is at the end of his career. He is only averaging around two points a game for the Kings as well.
10. Draft Pick: Harry Giles
This next bad draft pick had all of the hype on him coming into freshman season at Duke. He was regarded by most as the best player in the country coming out of high school. A lot of experts even thought he could rise to the number one pick ahead of guys like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Jayson Tatum. Sometimes, the injury bug just comes in and gets the best of them, and then the player can never make a full recovery.
Harry Giles was a 6’11 athletic player who had the world in his hands when he first arrived at Duke. Unfortunately, his knees just couldn’t hold him up for a full season. He had knee surgery in his freshman season and when he came back, he didn’t meet expectations. He averaged four points per game, but also had a reputation of being a good shot blocker. He was taken 20th overall by Portland and then traded to Sacramento just like Justin Jackson was. He hasn’t played in a game yet and is still recovering from surgeries on both knees. He isn’t expected to play until at least February. Another brilliant move by a Kings organization that continuously moves backwards.
9. Free Agent Signing: Manu Ginobili
This next entry might cause a lot of controversy, but hear me out. The San Antonio Spurs had their nice run of winning championships with Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and others. The Spurs seem to be going in a different direction nowadays with younger options. They have All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard who some are saying is the best two way player in the league. They have an All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge who can play power forward or center. They don’t need this aging veteran and why they re-signed him might raise a few eyebrows.
Manu Ginobili has been a vital part of many of the Spurs championship runs. He provides leadership and a good shot from the outside. The only downside is his age…he is another 40-year-old player. The Spurs re-signed Ginobili to a two year, $5 million deal. But they need to move on from the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili days. So why are they re-signing somebody at the age of 40? He is having one of his worst statistical seasons and the Spurs are clearly building around Leonard and Aldridge now. Manu has been great for San Antonio, but it might be time for him to hang up the shoes for good.
8. Draft Pick: Frank Ntilikina
Like we mentioned before, the New York Knicks are pretty much a complete mess. The only reason they aren’t a train wreck this season is because of the play of Kristaps Porzingis, a foreign player who was booed on draft night. The Knicks decided to go the same route in the 2017 NBA Draft with the eighth overall pick. So far, he isn’t doing what Porzingis did.
Frank Ntilikina is a point guard from France. They believe that with him and Porzingis, the young Knicks will be competitive for this season and then be able to put more talent around them to make a run in the long-term. Ntilikina isn’t doing his part though. He is only averaging five points and five assists a game. It could be worse but it certainly can be a lot better especially for an eighth overall pick. He’d better get it going or else he’ll start hearing the boos Porzingis once had to endure.
7. Free Agent Signing: Kelly Olynyk
This next big man had the game of his life in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. Everything he threw up just seemed to go in, he was blocking shots, and doing everything right. He was a very good bench player for the Celtics. Now, he is enjoying the sunshine of Miami playing for the Heat. The Heat struck out on Gordon Hayward and are past the D-Wade days, so they needed somebody to be the face of the franchise. So the Heat went out and signed…Kelly Olynyk?
Kelly Olynyk signed for a four year, $5o million deal this past offseason, averaging $12.5 million a year. In this day of the big contracts, that seems fairly low risk. But in Olynyk’s case, you have to wonder why the Heat spent so much. He never averaged more than 10 points a game in Boston. He is averaging roughly 10 points and six rebounds a game for the Heat this season as the Heat look at to make a run at the playoffs. To be the face of a franchise, you have to lead every night and Kelly simply isn’t that type of player. This was a very bad signing as it stands right now.
6. Draft Pick: Zach Collins
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been one of those college teams that have recently worked their way up the college basketball power rankings. This big man was one Bulldog who made it to the NBA, taken no.10 overall, but isn’t living up to those standards.
Zach Collins was drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the 10th pick before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. So far for the Blazers, he hasn’t had really any impact. He isn’t averaging a full point a game or one full rebound a game. With players like Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and rising player Pat Connaughton getting a lot of shots and looks, Collins seems to be lost in the shuffle. He is seven feet tall and has a good frame to work with. He has only appeared in four games this year so he has a full season ahead of him. But right now, this looks like a bad draft pick overall for a guy who just played in a National Championship game not too long ago.
5. Free Agent Signing: George Hill
The next free agent signing is a journeyman point guard who provides valuable leadership and experience to a number of teams. He has made stops in San Antonio, Indiana, Utah, and now the Sacramento Kings. We love picking on the Kings just because of all the bad moves over the year. Yes, they made some good moves such as trading for Chris Webber in the 1993 NBA Draft. Otherwise, it is tough to find any good moves and this one is another one locked away in the “bad signings” treasure chest.
George Hill hit the payday when he signed with the Sacramento Kings. He signed for a three year, $57 million deal. You break that down, that is $19 million a year. That kind of money for a journeyman point guard who’s averaged more than 15 points a game in just two seasons? Something seems just a bit off with those calculations. Maybe Vlade Divac is trying to break a GM record for bad decisions.
4. Draft Pick: Josh Jackson
This next draft pick was the number four overall pick in 2017. Everybody expected Fultz and Ball to go one and two. Jayson Tatum was taken third by the Boston Celtics, allowing for a 6’8 small forward out of Kansas to be selected by the Phoenix Suns. He was supposed to come in and dominate with his athletic ability and explosiveness to the basket. So far, he is one of the biggest letdowns in this year’s rookie class.
Jackson had a great season at Kansas prior to his arrival in the NBA. He averaged 16 points and seven rebounds a game, good enough to be nominated as an All-Big 12 First team member. Some even speculated Jackson could go number one to the Celtics before they traded their pick to Philadelphia. Jackson is averaging nine points and four rebounds a game, very minimal production for a guy projected with such a high ceiling at the draft. The Suns are a mess and need to get Jackson going to give the organization and the fans something to get excited about.
3. Free Agent Signing: Gordon Hayward
Before any Celtics fans call me ridiculous and crazy and every other name in the book, just hear me out on this. The Celtics were a team that had a ton of draft picks and plenty of cap room to sign a marque free agent to a max deal. Brad Stevens came to the Celtics from Butler. Gordon Hayward played for Stevens at Butler. Hayward was a free agent after the 2016-17 season, so the choice was a no-brainer. Gordon Hayward signed a max deal with the Celtics, giving Celtics fans a reason to get excited for this year even before the Kyrie Irving trade happened.
Hayward scored one basket in his Celtics career before he landed awkwardly opening night against Cleveland and ended up breaking his leg. He is out for the season, just five minutes after he suited up for the Celtics for the first time in a regular season game. The injury is the only thing making Hayward a bad signing…so far. Hopefully he comes back better than ever but you have to wonder if he’ll ever be the same player after such a gruesome injury.
2. Draft Pick: Markelle Fultz
Perhaps the most disappointing draft pick so far also happens to be the player selected first overall. Usually, number one picks have the most pressure on them to perform right away or be a bust for years to come. The Celtics and 76ers were the two teams most interested in this candidate as everyone figured the Lakers would select Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. Philadelphia traded with Boston, got the number one pick, selected Fultz, and have endured more bad luck.
Markelle Fultz seemed to have it all during his time at the University of Washington. He averaged 23 points a game and had all of the tools to prove he was NBA ready. So far, he has given lackluster numbers with six points, two rebounds, and two assists per game. Those numbers are pretty far off from his dominating performances at Washington. Some said his shoulder injury would explain his poor free throw shooting. Overall, Fultz hasn’t exactly instilled confidence for Philly fans.
1. Free Agent Signing: Amir Johnson
Amir Johnson was a part of the Celtics team last year that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but not as big as the Celtics would have hoped. He was a free agent this offseason, and chose to go to the young 76ers. He is looked at as the veteran presence, but the question is: why the signing?
Johnson signed for one year at $11 million. He joined the young core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz. Signing Amir Johnson makes sense, what doesn’t make sense is why for one year only and why for $11 million? Amir Johnson is not the type of player that should be making more than half of that. He has only averaged more than 10 points per game in two seasons of his entire career. The 76ers have had bad luck in the past, but their bad luck continues, as they make questionable signings.
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