Every player in the National Basketball Association is good at basketball. That is something we can agree on. Even though every player in the league is skilled on the court, the differences between talent around the NBA is apparent for sure, as super stars and bench players seem to be from two separate worlds at some points. You have guys like Russell Westbrook, who puts up incredible numbers like averaging a triple double for an entire season, and then you have other guys who can't even shoot over 30% from the field, who ride the pine the entire season. This is why it is so easy for fans of the game to call a certain player good or bad, as an average NBA player who is clearly ten times better than any of us can actually be considered bad when compared to superstar players.
On championship teams, there is a always a mix of good and bad players, usually more good than bad considering they are one of the best teams in the league that season. Every championship squad has it's best player who goes out and wins the big game and is the town hero, and every squad has it's bench player who hasn't made a shot for 10 games in a row. That's just how it is.
In this article, we will be looking at the best and worst player of the last 15 NBA championship teams. If you have any thoughts on this article, leave your comments below. We would love to hear your opinion.
Here is the best and worst player of the last 15 NBA championship teams.
30 2003: Best - Tim Duncan
Get used to seeing Timmy D's name on this list, as he really was a staple of NBA success in the 2000's. Duncan was the leader of an excellent Spurs team back in 2003. It was him, David Robinson, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. The Spurs managed to beat the New Jersey Nets in six games, sending the Nets home packing in the Finals just like the Lakers did the year before. As for the Spurs, they weren't done building on their run of dominance, as Duncan would lead them to several more titles before hanging them up.
Tim Duncan was dominant this series, as he even managed to get 22 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, and 8 blocks in the series-clinching game. Talk about doing it all.
29 2003: Worst - Danny Ferry
Danny Ferry had a great career at Duke University, but despite his talent shown at the college level, he was just an average player over his 13 year career in the league. You've probably noticed how that tends to be a trend with Duke alumni. Anyway, he was on the Spurs for their 2003 championship team, but was sadly the worst player on the team, as he just wasn't able to produce very much during his time on the court.
In the playoffs, Ferry managed to play in 16 games, averaging 6.3 minutes, 1.3 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game, which just isn't very impactful which is why Ferry ends up being the worst player for the 2003 San Antonio Spurs. Oh well, he still has a ring.
28 2004: Best - Richard Hamilton
The 2004 Pistons were all about being greater than the sum of their parts. Richard Hamilton wasn't the Finals MVP for the 2004 championship Pistons, but he still was the best player on the team and was incredibly vital to the success of the franchise. The Pistons built themselves a solid squad to contend in the Eastern Conference, as Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince all made for a solid squad that knew how to bring the Detroit brand of basketball every night.
Hamilton averaged over 20 points per game that season while shooting a solid percentage from the field, he was the go to scorer for the Pistons and having him hot that night most likely meant a win for Detroit in 2004.
27 2004: Worst - Darko Milicic
Can we just imagine if the Pistons actually cashed in on their number 2 draft selection in the coveted 2003 NBA Draft? Even with completely missing on their pick as Darko went on to become easily one of the biggest busts in the history of the game, they still managed to be a good enough team the next season to win the championship. What if they drafted Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade to join the team? The championship window for Detroit could have been much bigger and brighter. They may have been able to repeat the following year. Instead they whiffed on it, as Darko was the worst player on the 2004 Detroit Pistons despite fans still thinking there was hope for him at that time.
26 2005: Best - Tim Duncan
Surprise, surprise. Here are the Spurs again. Two years later, Tim Duncan and the Spurs are back on top of the basketball world, with the best player of the team not changing a bit. Duncan was easily one of the best players in the league at this point, and while the roster around him changed a bit since winning the title in 2003, having Duncan running the team meant good things to come for San Antonio. He took home the Finals MVP honors once again, as he really knew how to step up his game when it was really time to shine, as he held off the defending champion Detroit Pistons to win his third ring at that time. He was able to do what Shaq and Kobe didn't the year before.
25 2005: Worst - Tony Massenburg
Tony Massenburg was a true NBA journeyman, as he played for 12 different NBA teams throughout his 13 year career in the league. By some stroke of luck, he managed to get on the 2005 championship Spurs team where he was able to win himself a ring without doing much on the court, as he averaged less than a point in the Spurs' playoff run. While he was able to win himself a ring on the positive side, his being on the team won't be forgotten through articles like these, as he was the worst player on the 2005 championship San Antonio Spurs. It seems to be a running theme in the NBA now that if you want to win a title, make sure you have a pitstop on a contender while you can.
24 2006: Best - Dwyane Wade
While Shaq was on this championship team, there was no doubt whose team it really was. Dwyane Wade is a Miami Heat legend, as he was able to win the city of Miami their first championship without the likes of LeBron James on his team back in 2006. Wade had an excellent season in '06, and was the clear cut superstar of the team. He did it all for Miami that season, as he was the go to scorer for the team, and was the best defender on the other end of the court as well. Wade was awarded with the Finals MVP after his awesome series play against the Dallas Mavericks. After being down 0-2 in the series, Wade rallied the Heat back to win it all, even though some feel the refs gave him a hand.
23 2006: Worst - Wayne Simien
Wayne Simien was still a young player when the Miami Heat won the championship in 2006, but that doesn't take his name off the title of being the worst player on the team at that time. He was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Heat with the 29th pick, which actually turned out to be a total waste. He was out of the league by the year 2007, and never made a impact in the NBA sadly even after being a dominant scorer for Kansas in his senior year. During the 2006 playoffs, Simien played in two games for seven minutes, where he scored a total of zero points and grabbed a total of one rebound. Luckily for him, Wade and Shaq were able to carry the load.
22 2007: Best - Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward to ever play the game of basketball in my opinion, as he makes his third appearance on this list as he was the best player on the dominant Spurs team for pretty much his entire 19 year career there. The 2007 Finals had the Spurs matched up against a young LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and the incredible San Antonio team made quick work of Cleveland, sweeping them in four games.
The Cavs actually came in at a higher seed (2) than the Spurs (3), but the West proved to be the better conference that season as the Spurs were much better than the Cavaliers. LeBron was a one-man team, carrying the Cavs, while Duncan was simply the strongest of the bunch in San Antonio.
21 2007: Worst - Jacque Vaughn
Jacque Vaughn certainly has the mind for basketball, as he has been an NBA coach since 2010. He started as an assistant coach for the Spurs, head coached the Magic, and is now an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets. Despite knowing the game inside and out, Vaughn wasn't a big help on the court for the championship Spurs when it came to getting baskets and playing defense. He was certainly an on the court coach for the veteran Spurs, but that doesn't change the fact he only averaged about 2 points per game in over 10 minutes of playing time per night. As was the case with many of the Spurs' championship teams though, they had to have a weak link somewhere on their roster and unfortunately, it was Vaughn here.
20 2008: Best - Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett was the most important piece of the excellent Boston Celtics team in the late 2000s and early '10s. The Celtics had some of the leagues best superstars at the time on the team with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. While the incredible team only went on to win one championship in 2008, the team was one of the best in the league for years as they were always doing damage in the East. Kevin Garnett had a dominant season in green in 2007-08, and while Pierce and Allen put up great numbers that year, Garnett was the best player on the team. Paul Pierce actually won the Finals MVP in their series against the Lakers, but Garnett was still the best player on the team in my opinion, even though fans of Pierce would say otherwise, as they both were huge in the Celtics championship year.
19 2008: Worst - Tony Allen
Brian Scalabrine was a beloved player in Boston but it was more for his character off the court, rather than his abilities on it. Scalabrine only saw action in 48 games that season and didn't even get court time during the playoffs.
Scalabrine was affectionately known as the White Mamba and became somewhat of a folk hero in Boston. He didn't seem to mind being the weak link on the Celtics after winning a championship. “Maybe now you could say I didn’t play a second, but in five years, you guys are going to forget. In ten years I’ll still be a champion. In 20 years I’ll tell my kids I probably started, and in 30 years I’ll probably tell them I got the MVP. So I’m probably not too worried about it.”
18 2009: Best - Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant had already three NBA championships to his name at this point, but Kobe was striving to win himself another one as the complete leader of his team, not a sidekick. Bryant was possibly the best player in the league in 2009, as he averaged about 27 points per game that season. He and the Lakers were a great team in the late 2000's, as they made it to the NBA Finals the year before but were beaten by the Boston Celtics. Kobe and the Lakers were back for revenge the next season, and beat the Magic in 5 games behind Kobe's epic play that series. Kobe Bryant was without a doubt the best player on the 2009 Los Angeles Lakers and carried them.
17 2009: Worst - Adam Morrison
This was perhaps the easiest decision to make on this list. Adam Morrison's NBA career was totally disappointing, as he was billed to be the next best NBA scorer coming out of Gonzaga University, as he really did have an incredible college career there. Turns out Morrison was just a bad NBA player, and was the reason he only played four years in the league. 2009 was his worst season of all-time, as he averaged less than two points per game that season. He only played two games in the playoffs, and was not the scoring punch for the Lakers like he was for Gonzaga. Morrison hit the lottery after spending several disappointing years in Charlotte before catching a huge break landing in L.A.
16 2010: Best - Kobe Bryant
Kobe wins his 5th NBA championship in 2010 as he and the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in seven hard fought games. Bryant was easily the best player on the team, as not much changed since the year before when he took the Lakers all the way to the top of the mountain. Able to defend his championship, Kobe added to his legacy as he won Finals MVP and averaged 29 points through the playoffs. Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, and was the best player on his team for two of his five championship rings. The win avenged the Lakers' loss to the Celtics back in the 2008 Finals and put Kobe one championship behind his hero, Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, it would be his last.
15 2010: Worst - Adam Morrison
Adam Morrison's final season in the NBA was spent on the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers team, and while he was able to win himself his second ring, he was once again the worst player on the team. He was able to give a few fist bumps here and there on the bench during the 2010 Finals. Don't believe me? Check out some of his 'highlights' back in L.A. It's no surprise to anybody that Morrison was mostly on the bench throughout much of the 2010 run. He only managed to get into two playoff games and following that season, teams were not interested in bringing Morrison on. He would quietly retire from the NBA shortly thereafter. Morrison seems content today with his quiet life away from basketball.
14 2011: Best - Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest Dallas Maverick of all-time, and the run he and the team made in 2011 was really something fun to watch. The team was full of great players other than their superstar in Nowitzki, with guys like Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, and Jason Terry. Everyone other than Heat fans were rooting for them, as they went up against the new powerhouse of the league in LeBron James and the Miami Heat, and the fact the Mavericks were able to beat them was awesome. Dirk took home Finals MVP honors, as he put up big numbers en route to his only championship ring. The Mavs completely stunned the Heat and Dirk's years of loyalty were rewarded with a title.
13 2011: Worst - Peja Stojakovic
Peja Stojakovic was an NBA star during his time with the Sacramento Kings, even averaging over 24 points in the 2003 season. One of the best and highest volume shooters of all-time, Peja was a great player during his prime. He played for five teams after he parted ways with the Kings, and never was the same player for his new franchises like he was during his early days in Sacramento. Dallas was one of those franchises, as he only averaged 0.5 points per game during the Finals, making him the worst player on the team. After winning the championship, Stojakovic promptly retired. That year featured a lot of veteran players on Dallas that were searching for their first ring. Stojakovic can thank Dirk for this one.
12 2012: Best: LeBron James
LeBron James best years came with the Miami Heat, and his decision to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to win championships with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami came with criticism to say the lest. Being public enemy number 1 must have fueled King James, as he really was at the top of his game during his time with the Heat. They made it to the championship in his first year there in 2011, but weren't ready to be champions yet as they lost to the Mavericks. 2012 was the year it all clicked for Miami, as they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games. The Heat had three superstars on their roster with James, Wade, and Bosh, but everyone in the league knew who the King was.
11 2012: Worst - Juwan Howard
Juwan Howard was the worst player on the 2012 Miami Heat. He was in his late 30s when this series went down, and he was barely seeing the court as he was shooting a little over 30% from the field, which is downright bad for a center in the NBA. He had a long and successful NBA career, but in the early 2010s Howard was barely hanging on to NBA life, and was lucky enough to win two championships with the Heat.
Shortly before the Heat sealed the deal, Howard mentioned how badly he wanted to see James win: “Whenever that day happens, I will be so happy for him personally, because he truly deserves it,” Howard said. “I might shed a tear, for him, if that ever happens.”
10 2013: Best - LeBron James
LeBron and the Heat find themselves in the NBA Finals for the third time in a row in 2013, and they were ready to defend their title as they beat the San Antonio Spurs in a brutal seven game series. LeBron James did LeBron James like things all season, as the Heat went on to win 66 games as they were the best team in the league.
Wade and Bosh were playing at a high level as well, but they really don't step into the same ring as LeBron when it comes to greatness, as an argument for LeBron being the greatest NBA player of all-time can be made. The same can't be said for Wade or Bosh. It would be the Big 3's last championship together, as they would lose the following year in a rematch with San Antonio.
9 2013: Worst - Joel Anthony
I was going to go with Juwan Howard for this spot again, but Howard didn't even play a game in the playoffs, as he was more of a coach than a player at this point. Joel Anthony did play in the playoffs however, and averaged 0.4 points per game and shot 30% from the field in 15 games in the playoffs. That is worst player on the team type numbers, and even though Joel was able to win his second NBA championship that season, he was the worst player on the roster sadly. Anthony would soon bounce around the league and to nobody's surprise, he's yet to find a team this summer, having last played for the Spurs last season on a 10-day contract.
8 2014: Best - Kawhi Leonard
This Finals rematch went to the Spurs instead of the Heat this time, as San Antonio was able to take down Miami in a quick five games. Kawhi Leonard was by no means a superstar when his time to shine came, but boy did he play like one in the 2014 NBA Finals. He was named the MVP of the series due to not just his great scoring, but his epic defense against LeBron James as he really did play lockdown defense the whole series.
The rest of the core of the Spurs were aging at this point, and Leonard was the best player on the team as a star was born in the 2014 Finals as the veteran Spurs were able to avenge their loss from the year before.
7 2014: Worst - Cory Joseph
Cory Joseph may have been the solid player he is today back in 2014 when he was on the Spurs, but the team was so deep that year that Joseph was barely seeing any court time as he must have not been seen as valuable enough to play against the Heat in the series. He only played in three of the five games for an average of 2.5 minutes per game, as he averaged 0.7 points.He is now a good back up point guard for the Toronto Raptors, where he is doing much more than he did back in 2014 on the Spurs. The Spurs really didn't have all that many weak links on their 2014 roster, which is of credit to them. Pop sure coached the guys well.
6 2015: Best - Stephen Curry
By 2015, fans were beginning to hear the name Stephen Curry a lot more. The shooter from Davidson finally came into his own, as he was able to lead the Golden State Warriors to the promise land. The "Dubs" were a great team in 2015, and while they have gotten even better since then, it was hard to beat them two seasons ago. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are both great players, but Stephen Curry was the face of the team in 2015, and was the biggest reason they were able to spoil LeBron's homecoming as they beat the Cavaliers in six games. This was just the start of a run of greatness for the Warriors, as they've now reached three straight NBA Finals.
5 2015: Worst - Brandon Rush
Brandon Rush was the worst player on a great 2015 Golden State Warriors team. He actually played for the Warriors for two seasons before he played for the Jazz in 2014, but came back to do not much more than sit on the bench for his old team for two more seasons. Rush had a bad 2015 year, as it was easily his worst year to date, as he averaged 0.9 points per for the team that season, his worst of any of his seasons in the NBA. Rush may have been better than his statistics showed that year, but it makes him look like the worst player on the team, that's for sure. Luckily for him, he was surrounded by an elite team and managed to grab himself a ring.
4 2016: Best - LeBron James
Sorry Kyrie. LeBron James finally wins his third NBA championship after losing two Finals series in a row. This series win was huge for LeBron, as he was able to bring his hometown of Cleveland their first NBA championship, and unlike his rings in Miami, the rest of the world was actually rooting for him this time. Even at over 30 years of age, LeBron was the best player on a great Cleveland team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. LeBron led both teams in every major statistical category, as he cemented his names among the greats with his epic play in the 2016 NBA Finals. James finally did what he was set out to do since he was drafted; win a championship for his hometown Cavaliers.
3 2016: Worst - Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov was a big rotation player for the Cavaliers the year before when they lost to the Warriors, but lost pretty much all his minutes the next season when they won the championship. The team just didn't really play the 7 footer, as he only averaged a little over a point per game in his 13 appearances in the playoffs.
The Lakers gave him a big contract after being a complete non factor and possibly the worst player on the championship Cavaliers, so at least he was able to swindle the Lakers for his talents. When looking back now, it's clear that the Lakers made a terrible move in landing Mozgov and the big man was clearly carried in Cleveland by the star studded lineup.
2 2017: Best - Kevin Durant
It was huge sports news when Kevin Durant announced he would be signing with the Golden State Warriors, as he was literally joining the best regular season team of all-time as they won 72 games without him the year before. Durant came into the team without many hiccups, and while they didn't break their own record for wins, their playoff play was dominant to say the least. Durant is just simply one of the top players in the league, and it was apparent while watching the series for the Cavaliers that Durant was the best player on the court, other than LeBron James. Durant re-signed with the Warriors this summer and will look to lead the team to back-to-back titles next year. The team is still the early favorite.
1 2017: Worst - Damian Jones
Damian Jones was drafted to fill in some big man holes in the Golden State roster, as he was taken with the 30th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He didn't make any noise as a rookie, as he averaged about 2 points per game in both the regular season and playoffs. Jones could have maybe been more productive on any other team than the Golden State Warriors, who is without a doubt the most talented squad in NBA history. A young player, it wasn't surprising for me that my research on who the worst player on the 2017 Golden State Warriors pointed towards the rookie Damian Jones.
So, that brings us to the end. Did you feel we got any picks wrong? Let us know!
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