Before anyone gets angry at me, all of these players are MVP caliber players, so it is extremely hard to pick out, "the worst of the best." Every one of these players are either near Hall of Fame players, are going to be in the Hall of Fame, or are already in the Hall of Fame. So none of these players are bad by any means, or in any definition of the word, (barring maybe Derrick Rose). These guys have earned their way to become the Most Valuable Player in the NBA, so this is probably the only list of, "worst" they will ever be on.
So the way I made this list was looking at the entire careers of all of the players who have won an MVP in their career, and then ranked them, with number one being the worst player on the list (still a good player) and 15, being the best on the list. It isn't based solely off of their MVP season, but rather their entire body of work. So don't try to compare their single seasons against each other.
Without further adieu, here is my list of the 15 worst NBA MVP's of all time.
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15 Charles Barkley
"Sir Charles" makes this list, but just barely. They don't call him the "round mound of rebound" for nothing. He was an undersized power forward, but used his leverage and strategy to out rebound his larger competitors. Barkley won the MVP award once, in the 1992-93 season. Barkley was with the Suns that season, which was his first with the team. Before that, he was playing for the team that drafted him, the Philadelphia 76ers. He was also great on the Sixers, but he really came into his own when he was on the Suns.
I think that he needed to have his own roster, and while he was the best player on the team at the end of his Sixers tenure, for most of his time in Philly he was playing behind other great players.
14 Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki, in my opinion, is the greatest foreign basketball player to ever lace 'em up. He has mastered just about every part of his game and there isn't really a spot on the floor where he can't score from. He has a strong post game, he can shoot the three, and his fade-away is a trademark Dirk shot. Those are all reasons why he has a career average of 22 points per game and has been playing for 17 years all with the Dallas Mavericks. He is just too valuable of a player for the organization to let go. He is one of the NBA's top all-time scorers with 29,491 points in his career. He only makes this list because the competition among former MVPs is so strong.
13 Kevin Garnett
KG has made his way around the league now. He spent two separate tenures with the Timberwolves, but his career is now over. He and the Wolves agreed on a buyout, which wasn't the best way for KG's career to end. After his first go around with the Wolves, he went to the Celtics and joined up with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. They won a title and after that, Pierce and Garnett traveled together to Brooklyn. The team was projected to be a contender, but they turned out to be a disaster. They had a bunch of veterans and they all wanted the ball. They were too old. Age catching up to them was inevitable.
After the failed attempt to revive the Nets, Garnett left and went back to the T-Wolves. This time he wasn't their star or even of of their starters, but he served as a mentor for Karl-Anthony Towns and the rest of their rookies.
12 Karl Malone
Karl Malone is so tough to put on this list because he is the NBA's 2nd all time leading scorer. If he could have just won a championship, there is no way I'd be able to place him on this list. Malone and Stockton should have won a championship and they would have if it weren't for Michael Jordan. If they played in another era they may have multiple championships. Basketball was at such a competitive stage back then, today, I think they would easily win the finals. Who would stop Malone? Stockton is a true point guard unlike today's players who all try to be scorers who don't make their teammates better. Malone averaged 25 points per game and played all the way up until 2004.
11 David Robinson
David Robinson was extremely good for seven years. Starting from his rookie year on he was dominant. Then, he got injured and the Spurs were terrible for a year. Since they were so bad for the season, they got the first pick and selected Tim Duncan. While that started the Spurs' dynasty, it also reduced Robinson's numbers. Duncan started to carve out a larger and larger role. Robinson and Duncan went on to win a championship which Robinson had been searching for. The presence of Duncan helped the Spurs win games but it didn't help Robinson's stats. He didn't need to be used as much now. He was still a really good player but he didn't play nearly as many minutes as before.
10 Steve Nash
Steve Nash is a two MVP award winner which is crazy because Kobe Bryant only has one. Nash is a very controversial MVP. People don't feel that he doesn't deserve two, especially when players who are clearly better than him and more valuable haven't even won it once. You can't judge players just based on how many MVP awards they have or else Steve Nash, who is a great player no doubt would be better than Shaq and other great players, and that simply is not the case. Nash was a great facilitator, one of the best of all time. That made him valuable to any team he was on, but looking back, he isn't in the top tier of all time players. That's why you find him at #10 on my list.
9 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant's career is still evolving so to put him on this list is hard. There is no way to tell where he would end up on this list had he finished his career, but it's quite easy to think that he may make his way off this list completely one day. Durant is one of the most versatile scorers the game has ever seen and he is an elite defender as well. His long arms and lanky frame help him deflect passes and block shots with ease. Durant may very well find himself near the top of the NBA's all time scoring leaderboard by the time his career is all said and done. Durant may go down as one of the all time greats, or he may fade out. It will be interesting to see how the rest of career pans out, especially now that he is with the Warriors.
8 Bob Cousy
Bob Cousy's first NBA season was in 1950. The game was a lot different and has come a long way since then. Back when Cousy played, the NBA had 15 minute quarters and each game was much faster paced, so teams would score well into the 100s. Cousy averaged 18 points per game for his career and that may sound like a good number, but he didn't score nearly as many points per possession as some of the players do today. Cousy wasn't too bad as a facilitator either. He never eclipsed 10 assists in a season but he averaged 7.5 for his career. I can't see Cousy winning an MVP in today's style of basketball. I don't think he would even be among the elite players in the NBA.
7 Bill Walton
Bill Walton never averaged 20 or more points per game in a season. In his MVP season he averaged 18.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks. It's kind of hard to understand how he won the award with these stats. There had to be players with much more impressive stats than him. On top of the stats that don't jump off of the page, he only played in 65 of the games in his NBA career. This article isn't supposed to be about questioning whether these players are worthy of the award, but this one brings that in to question. What did Walton do to deserve the trophy? Throughout his career he only averaged 13 points per game. He was very valuable, but was the the most valuable?
6 Bob McAdoo
Bob McAdoo had a real roller coaster of an NBA career. He had a season where he scored 34.5 points, and he had a season where he scored just nine. He played for a copious amount of teams, but was best with the Buffalo Braves. Over the course of his career, he averaged 22 points per game and 9.4 rebounds. Those averages however were lifted significantly by his best three seasons. In those three seasons, from 1973-1976, he scored 32 points per game and had 14 rebounds per game. During this stretch he was unstoppable, but it didn't last long enough for him to be remembered as one of the best to ever play. If only he had a little bit more longevity, he might not have been on this list.
5 Bob Pettit
Bob Pettit was the first ever NBA MVP. He payed his whole career with the Hawks. In his rookie season the Hawks played in Milwaukee but then got relocated to St. Louis. In his best scoring season he scored 31 points per game and in his best rebounding season he grabbed 20 rebounds. Few were around to see him play, but from what is told about him, he was a pretty great player. He was an All-Star for everyone one of his 11 seasons which is impressive and not something many players can say. Pettit is an NBA great but it's hard to know how good he would be against players that are in the NBA today. If only there were a way to compare players from the 50s to the players of today. Wouldn't that be interesting?
4 Willis Reed
Reed was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1964 NBA draft. During his time in the NBA, he won two NBA championships, both with the Knicks. Not only did Reed win MVP, but he also won All-Star game MVP. He was the first player in the history of the NBA to win the award. He also won finals MVP both times he won the championship with the Knicks. Reed has a lasting legacy. After his playing career was over, he coached at a few colleges and even made his way up into the NBA level. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1982. Reed is one of the greatest Knicks of all time, there is no debating that, but even players of his caliber can end up on this list.
3 Dave Cowens
Cowens spent almost his entire career with the Celtics. In fact, when he retired, he had only played for the Celtics. He then came back after being retired for two years and played for the Bucks. Cowens was always a solid player, but I wouldn't have named him MVP if it were up to me. I think one of the main reasons he won this award is because he was on such a good celtics team. He was a also a two-time NBA champion, just like Willis Reed was. In Cowens' 1973 MVP season, he only scored 19 points per game, not even eclipsing the 20 mark. In his entire career, he only scored an average of 17 points per game. One thing I will credit him for is his incredible consistency. He was always around that 17 point mark.
2 Wes Unseld
Wes Unseld won the MVP award in in 1969. It was his rookie season which is something that only Wilt Chamberlain had done before him. He was a very good defensive player but was limited on offense. Whether he deserved the award or not is a debate for another time, but I can tell you, if he played in today's NBA, he would have no shot at winning the MVP. The NBA hardly rewards defense.
Players like James Harden are in the MVP running. Harden is detrimental to his team on defense and that is a testament to how little the NBA rewards defense.
When Unseld's career was all said and done, he had a career average of only 10.8 points per game. That's hardly impressive when looking at other MVP winners.
1 Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose was such a good player before his whole career came crashing down in the playoffs. Before he tore his ACL for the first time, he was a dynamic scorer, distributor and the MVP of the NBA. But then he got injured and he hasn't been the same since. He has been plagued by the injury bug and hasn't been able to get back on track. He hopes to be able to revert back to his old self with a change of scenery this offseason. He could get back on the right path and earn his way off of this list, or at least the top spot, but I doubt it in this point in his career. He is a very fragile player and the next injury always seems to be on the way.
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