A player’s time in the NBA cannot be taken for granted. A fall from elite status can happen so quickly, and it’s very easy to be forgotten. Whoever is a star today could very well be an afterthought by tomorrow. For example, think of all the players who seemed like valuable pieces in the Lakers’ and Spurs championships in the mid 2000s. How many of them can you remember today besides the stars?
There could be a multitude of reasons as to why a player’s career falls apart quickly. Maybe a stretch of bad injuries just catches up to them. Maybe teams learn how to stop them after watching enough hours of game film. Sometimes, a player’s role is diminished on a team, so they elect to become a big fish elsewhere and take their talents to European leagues, the CBA or other leagues where they could make a good living, but are away from the NBA spotlight.
This article, takes a peek at 15 NBA players who were unfortunately thought of as irrelevant, and thus disappeared into oblivion by the time their career was over. And as one could assume, may depend on several factors.
15. Baron Davis
Let’s start with a classy veteran from the Golden State Warriors dating back to 2005-2008. Many people forget that the Warriors were actually a somewhat mediocre basketball team during this span. They didn’t have the luxury of Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis’s shooting abilities quite yet. And many fans forget what it took for the Warriors to get to where they are today. Baron Davis played three seasons with the Warriors where he averaged 22 PPG and 8 APG. He was as efficient as they come at the PG position playing alongside players like Stephen Jackson, Rodney Turiaf and many others. He also showed signs of athleticism making highlight dunks from time to time as well.
However, Davis’s game dropped off shortly after he left the Warriors for the Cavaliers in 2011. He became irrelevant during this transition because it was the same season marked by LeBron’s decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. That resulted in Davis playing on a terrible Cavs team. Following an unsuccessful run with the Knicks, Davis quietly left the NBA without many people noticing.
14. Lamar Odom
Many people forget that Lamar Odom won two championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. He was also named 6th man of the year thanks to his efficient and unique play from a player of his position. Odom’s contributions to the Lakers were indeed noted as he helped them beat the Celtics twice with of course Kobe Bryant’s help. Odom didn’t possess the strongest numbers due to his average shooting percentage, but he “did the little things that helped them win games” as coaches and teammates love to say.
However, shortly after winning two rings with the Lakers Odom would soon be thought of as irrelevant when he was let go and signed with the Dallas Mavericks. After playing with the Mavericks, Odom was then accused of drug use and some bad off court habits. Not to mention he almost died in 2015, suffering several strokes and kidney failure. Thankfully he seems to be okay now, but unfortunately since his marriage to Khloe Kardashian ended, he only seems to get in the news when something about Khloe’s past is mentioned.
13. Allen Iverson
Prior to discovering his true talents of playing professional basketball, Iverson took his talents to the football field at Bethel High School, where he started at quarterback. He also served as a running back, defensive back and kick returner for the team. It wasn’t until his junior year that Iverson was widely recognized for his basketball abilities— leading his team to the Virginia state championship two years running. He also earned the Associated Press High School Player of the Year Award in both sports.
Iverson would have a great NBA career ahead of him— having both an MVP season and a trip to the NBA Finals with the Sixers in 2001. However, that one trip to the Finals resulted in a loss to the Lakers and that would soon see a dip in Iverson’s play. Following his exit from Philly, he had short stints in Detroit, Memphis and a final run in Philly. Since retiring from the NBA, Iverson has resurfaced in Ice Cube’s Big 3 league and has gotten inducted into the Basketball hall of fame.
12. Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp was aptly named the Reign Man. Kemp possessed incredible athleticism and managed to rack up over 15,000 career points and was named a six-time All-Star. Kemp almost managed to help lead the SuperSonics to an NBA championship, but like many great teams, they were beaten by Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals. Kemp eventually left Seattle for Cleveland, which began his downfall in the NBA. He would spend the remainder of his career battling weight issues. Following the 1998-99 lockout, Kemp showed up to training camp weighing 280 pounds. He managed to hang around a few more years in the NBA, but following a trade to Portland, Kemp’s play really began to tail off.
Since retiring, Kemp has had his share of legal problems and saw his restaurant in Seattle close down. Fortunately, he has a son named Jamon, who happens to be the highest ranked basketball prospect in Washington state, so we may see the Kemp name become relevant again soon.
11. Mike Bibby
Bibby played 14 seasons in the league with the Vancouver Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Miami Heat and New York Knicks. Over his career he averaged a respectable 14.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 5.5 APG. He was mostly known for his sharp shooting and play making ability. He lead the Hawks to the playoffs, but would fall to LeBron and the Cavaliers in 2008. Bibby moved around the league quite a bit during this span and would then finally end his career with the Knicks.
Similar to most other players on this list, we see Bibby here because of his Finals appearances and championships. Although Bibby was a solid PG for several teams across the league, and had his moments making the 3 point contest, he ultimately failed to deliver a title to any of those teams. Like several other former NBA stars, Bibby has tried his hand in the Big 3 league, where he’s shown that he still has a lot of great basketball in him – just not for the NBA.
10. Gilbert Arenas
Arenas played college basketball for the University of Arizona, where he went to the Final Four and finished as a runner up. He also played with future NBA player Richard Jefferson on the team. Soon after the tournament, he would then declare for the NBA draft in 2001. Arenas is known as of the best shooters to play the game of basketball. He is right up there with Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and so many other greats who have come before him.
However, Arenas makes the list because of his off court incidents. Arenas was suspended for most of the 2009-10 season due to handgun violations stemming from an episode with teammate Javaris Crittenton. Arenas was indeed a great player in the NBA for quite some time, but his off court struggles halted his progress towards greatness. His name mostly seems to pop up now and then for delivering a hot take on social media.
9. Danny Granger
Granger was drafted by the Pacers in 2005 after a two year college stint in New Mexico. In the 2009-10 season, Granger averaged 26 PPG on a respectable 45% shooting from the field. He was an all star and was once named the most improved player. He was a solid player for the Pacers until Paul George came along where he would rightfully take his place as the face of the franchise. Towards the end of his playing career, Granger found investments in real estate companies and working for various sporting networks.
Granger makes the list because of his injuries dating back to 2012-14. This was ultimately his downfall because the injuries to his legs and strained calf stemmed his progress from returning that season. And of course when Paul George came along, it was time for Granger to move on from Indiana. He is currently a studio analyst for the CBS sports network and was inducted into the New Mexico hall of fame this past year.
8. Antawn Jamison
His parents named him “Antwan”, but received the name “Antawn” on his birth certificate and it was never corrected. Similar to Iverson, Jamison was quite involved at Charlotte’s Providence High School where he played on the basketball and football teams, and was also named an All American his senior year. He went on to play for Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina where he averaged an impressive 19.9 PPG and 9.9 RPG.
Jamison makes the list because of his rather inconsistent play with the Cavaliers during the 2010-11 season. The Cavaliers would set an NBA record 26 game losing streak that season— a record previously set by themselves in 1983. One year later LeBron would announce his decision in heading to Miami. Although Jamison had his moments with the Wizards and other teams, playing with the Cavaliers was his downfall. In his post NBA career, he’s pursued broadcasting and was hired a few months ago by the Lakers as a scout.
7. Stephon Marbury
Marbury, or commonly known by the nickname “Starbury”, was a 1995 All American among players like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Antawn Jamison. He played for several teams across the league. He played for the Timberwolves, Nets, Suns, Knicks and Celtics. His career averages are 19.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 7.6 APG. Marbury was one of the more consistent PG’s in fg % while limiting his TO’s.
However, Marbury makes the list here because of insisting on a NBA comeback dating back to September of last year. He’s spent the better part of the last decade becoming a superstar in China, as he’s led the Beijing Ducks of the CBA to several championships. However, Marbury, at 41 years old, has revealed this season will be his last, meaning we won’t see him in the NBA again. While he’ll forever be a legend in China, he’ll always be a ‘what if’ in North America.
6. Tracy McGrady
From NBA star with the Houston Rockets— to television personality with the NBA Countdown crew, McGrady has made a name for himself in that regard. McGrady played 16 NBA seasons where he averaged about 20 PPG and 5 RPG. He won an NBA scoring title, earned 7 NBA honors and 7 all star selections. He was most recognized for his scoring prowess and laid back demeanor. He scored multiple 40 point games and made several all star appearances in his NBA career. Although he didn’t win a championship, he was one of the more consistent players in the league.
McGrady though, ended his career with injuries having caught up to him. After a nice run in Houston, McGrady played for three teams in three years, then went to China for one season, where his team, the Qingdao Eagles, finished in last place. He announced his retirement rather unceremoniously in 2013 and has since been on NBA Countdown.
5. Shawn Marion
Marion played 16 seasons in the NBA and was widely known for that most horrendous but at times effective shooting form. He helped the Mavericks take down LeBron James and the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals, but didn’t do much beyond that. He consistently averaged about 20 PPG and 10 RPG when he was with the Phoenix Suns, but ultimately didn’t win a championship ring. Things would take a turn for the worse for Marion when trade rumors began to erupt in Phoenix and soon he would be out the door.
Although Marion won a ring with the Mavericks in 2011, he makes the list here simply because of his shooting form. He joins, Taushawn Prince, Michael Kidd Gilchrist and several others who have arguable the worst shooting form ever.
4. David Lee
The PF primarily known for his days playing with the Knicks was a double double machine. Lee was naturally left handed, but became essentially ambidextrous when he broke his left arm and learned to shoot right handed when he was little. He went to the University of Florida where he consistently averaged 10.7 PPG and 7 RPG. He didn’t ultimately help bring a championship to Florida, but was without a doubt a solid player for the program.
Lee makes the list because of his injury riddled season dating back to 2014-15 with the Golden State Warriors. As we all know, this was the year the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. When Lee went down, Draymond Green would take his place in the lineup and that was ultimately his downfall. It’s not all bad for David Lee though, as he’s now engaged to gorgeous tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
3. Monta Ellis
Similar to Baron Davis, Ellis was key in the rebuilding phase for the Warriors. It’s hard to believe that after all these years Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis could have stayed together in Golden State. That would have depended on Mark Jacksons coaching and several other factors, but it would have been an intriguing thought nonetheless. Ellis was a solid player indeed for the Warriors though. He was a spot up shooter and with additional time developed his handle making him a more complete player.
Although Ellis had some bright moments in the pros, he did have his shortcomings. In 2012, a former Golden State Warriors reached a settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the team and Ellis where he sent inappropriate pictures over text message. This would ultimately be his downfall. He was waived by the Indiana Pacers last summer and has yet to land an NBA job since.
2. Michael Redd
Redd played with the Milwaukee Bucks from 2000 to 2011, before playing a final season in Phoenix. For his career, he averaged a respectable 19 PPG and 2.1 APG. He wasn’t able to contribute immediately, falling behind all star guard and phenomenal shooter Ray Allen. After he was awarded more playing time seasons later he would not disappoint, raising both his numbers and FG percentage. He was one of the more consistent PGs in the league and although overshadowed by Ray Allen, was a solid contributor for them.
Redd makes the list because of his constant knee injuries which were a big setback for him during his time with Milwaukee. He did have some signs of excellence with the team, but his injuries derailed his career. He announced his retirement in 2013 and has frequently played for the US national team.
1. Andrew Bynum
Bynum was a solid contributor for the Lakers, helping them win a championship in 2009 and 2010. He was a double double machine for the Lakers where he consistently averaged about 13 PPG and 10 RPG. He also was a very solid defender averaging about 3.1 BPG, really making his presence felt down low. And that was not more evident than the 2010 Finals against the Celtics when Kendrick Perkins went down.
However, Bynum is also remembered for that gruesome hit on J.J. Barrea in the first series of the playoffs. This hit would immediately send Barrea to the ground and Bynum to the locker room with an ejection. So, although Bynum had his bright moments with LA, most people remember him from that incident. Bynum was eventually traded away in a blockbuster deal for Dwight Howard and after leaving L.A., his career dwindled. He ran into injury problems and only played 26 games after being traded.
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