The Lakers franchise has been around for nearly 70 years. From Minnesota to Los Angeles, the team has put together 16 championship seasons, second only to the Boston Celtics. During those years, 23 individuals who at one time or another played for the Lakers have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and this also is second only to the Boston Celtics. In short, the Lakers are perhaps the greatest or second greatest NBA Franchise that exists, and many great players have donned either the blue and white or the purple and gold colors of the Lakers franchise.
However, for every good, great of Hall of Fame player who has played for the Lakers, there have also been some who were not so good, very bad, or downright awful. Some great players, like Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, did poorly when they played for the Lakers, but because they flashed some greatness while with the team, they wouldn’t qualify for a list of this type. Neither do players like Kwame Brown and Smush Parker, who, though seemingly bad players, they spent multiple years with the team. The team saw something in them, so the Lakers kept these players around.
This list is looking at the worst players in the history of the team, so good guys playing badly, or role players not playing better, do not qualify for this list. The players who make the list are the three worst players at each position in Lakers’ history.
15 PG: David Rivers
David Rivers was selected in the first round of the 1988 draft by the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The draft, though not devoid of talent, only produced a single Hall of Fame inductee. However, there were several All-Stars and otherwise very talented players in that draft. Unfortunately, Rivers was not one of the talented ones. The Lakers could have chosen Vernon Maxwell, Steve Kerr or John Starks that year, but instead selected Rivers.
Rivers spent a single season with the Lakers, averaging less than three points per game, and after the season, the Lakers allowed him to be selected in the expansion draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He spent two more seasons in the NBA, and then left the league for the European leagues. While Maxwell and Kerr helped their teams to a combined seven NBA titles, including every title from 1994-1999, Rivers was a bust in the NBA.
14 PG: Rumeal Robinson
Robinson came to the Lakers in what was the fifth of his seven NBA stops. Robinson was remembered in college for sinking two free throws at the end of the game to help the University of Michigan win the 1989 NCAA Championship, and his play helped him to be selected high in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, his career was not one that a first round pick who was a former NCAA Champion would expect.
During the 1996-97 season, Robinson spent time with three different franchises, moving from Portland to Los Angeles with the Lakers to Phoenix and back to Portland to finish the season and his career. With the Lakers, Robinson appeared in 15 games, averaging 3 points per game, but on a team that featured Nick Van Exel and Derek Fisher, Robinson did not get many opportunities. The 1996-97 season was the final season of a less than stellar career.
13 PG: Javaris Crittenton
As a one-and-done player in college, Crittenton was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers in the same 2007 draft that sent Kevin Durant to the NBA. It is possible that the Lakers could have selected Aaron Brooks, who was selected seven picks later, instead of Javaris, but the point guard pool was thin in that year’s draft. The crowning achievement of Crittenton’s time with the Lakers was being included, with Kwame Brown and the rights to Marc Gasol, in a trade with Memphis for Pau Gasol, who helped Los Angeles win two championships.
Javaris began getting in trouble with the law after leaving the NBA. He faced murder and drug charges, and after accepting a plea to a lesser offense, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison. However, aside from this, Crittenton will probably be remembered most for his role in the locker room incident that involved him and Washington Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas pulling guns on each other.
12 SG: Sun Yue
Sun Yue was drafted by the Lakers in 2007, after playing professionally for many years in China, and for the Chinese National Team. Yue was also taken in the same 2007 draft that produced Kevin Durant, but by the time that Yue was selected, there wasn’t much left to choose from in the draft, though the Lakers did secure the rights to Marc Gasol eight picks later. Yue spent one more year in China before reporting to Los Angeles at the beginning of the 2008-09 season.
Sun appeared in 10 games with the Lakers, and scored a total of six points in 28 total minutes before being sent to the D-League. At the end of the D-League season, Sun was brought back to the Lakers for the NBA Playoffs, and became the second Chinese player to be on the roster of an NBA Champion. After the season, Yue returned to China, where he still plays basketball currently.
11 SG: Sam Jacobson
Before the 1998 NBA draft, the Lakers had Kobe, Nick Van Exel, Derek Fisher, Eddie Jones and Derek Harper at guard, and the Lakers traded Van Exel for Tyronn Lue after Lue was selected by Denver. Despite that, three picks after the Lue selection, the Lakers selected Sam Jacobson, even though players like Nazr Mohammed, Rashard Lewis, Brad Miller and others were available. Seemingly, there would not be many minutes for Jacobson, who was listed as a shooting guard in college but was listed as the fourth-string point guard with Los Angeles.
Jacobson appeared in two games for Los Angeles during his rookie season; and then three more games the following season before being traded to the Warriors. Within two years, Sam Jacobson was out of the NBA, and was playing basketball in Europe. Unfortunately for Jacobson, he left the Lakers just before the team won three straight NBA Championships.
10 SG: Shammond Williams
Shammond Williams was selected eight picks after Sam Jacobson in the 1998 NBA Draft, but he did not join the Lakers until 2006, after playing for six other NBA teams and three different international franchises. Williams left the University of North Carolina as the best three-point shooter in the history of the program, but somehow, that skill did not serve him well in the NBA, as he was unable to find for himself a steady home. The three seasons that he spent in Seattle was his longest tenure with any one NBA team.
With the Lakers, Williams was originally listed as a shooting guard, but then was changed to point guard. He played behind Jordan Farmar and Smush Parker, and though he shot 40% from behind the arc, he was unable to find regular playing time. Williams saw his minutes increase during the playoffs, but the team was eliminated in five games in the first round. Though two guards who played ahead of Williams left the Lakers as free agents, Williams also chose to leave the Lakers, and ended his NBA career with his departure, choosing to return to European ball.
9 SF: Ime Udoka
Ime Udoka went undrafted in the 2000 NBA Draft, so he alternated between international ball and the NBA D-League until the 2004 season, when he was signed by the Lakers. The 2004 Lakers team featured Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Rick Fox, Derek Fisher, Horace Grant and Byron Russell. However, an injury to Fox created a need for depth at the small forward position, so Udoka was called up from the D-League.
Unfortunately, Udoka’s stint with the Lakers was not very productive. He appeared in only four games for a total of 28 minutes, and he scored a total of eight points before he was released. Udoka played wherever he could until he got another chance in the NBA, which he did. His playing career was not much to speak about, but he won a championship as an assistant coach with the Spurs in 2014, and he is married to actress Nia Long.
8 SF: Christian Eyenga
Eyenga was taken by Cleveland in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, which was the Blake Griffin, James Harden, Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan draft. This draft class was one of the deepest in recent years, but Eyenga was one of the few first round selections to not be a productive player in the NBA. Eyenga started his career in the D-League, and went back and forth between the Cavs and the D-League until he was traded to the Lakers at the end of the 2012 season.
Though he only appeared in a single game during the season with the Lakers, his playing time increased during the playoffs. However, his stint with the Lakers was his last in the NBA, as he was sent back to the D-League before opting to return to international ball. Today, he is one of the top stars in the Italian League, including winning the Italian League All-Star MVP award in 2015.
7 SF: Adam Morrison
Adam Morrison was the top scorer in college basketball as a junior at Gonzaga, and shared player of the year honors with Duke’s J.J. Redick. Morrison was the third selection in the 2006 Draft, the first Charlotte Bobcats selection ever made by Michael Jordan, who was at the time the Manager of Basketball Operations. Morrison was a great offensive player, but his defense was suspect on the NBA level. Also, his shooting percentage fell sharply from his college years to his time in the NBA, so the Bobcats traded Morrison to Los Angeles.
Over two seasons with the Lakers, Morrison appeared in approximately 40 games between regular season and playoffs, mostly in mop-up situations. Though he never became the player that he was projected to be due to his high draft position, Morrison was part of two championship teams while with the Lakers. Following the 2010 season, Morrison was released from Los Angeles, never played another NBA game, and is considered one of the biggest busts in the history of the NBA.
6 PF: Chucky Brown
In 1989, there were only 27 teams in the NBA. By 2002, two teams were added, making the total number 29. Chucky Brown’s career spanned those years, and during that time, he achieved an NBA record for the most teams played for during an NBA career, having played with 12 different franchises. Brown shares that record with a number of players, including Joe Smith (who has also made this list). One of the teams that Brown played for was the Lakers, as Brown signed with the team the season after Magic Johnson retired due to HIV.
Brown spent 36 games with the Lakers before being waived at the end of the season. The Lakers were the second franchise that Brown played for, but he bounced around basketball after that. Though he was never able to stick with any team for very long, he won a championship with the Houston Rockets. At least he has a record that seemingly will never be broken.
5 PF: Joe Smith
Joe Smith and Chucky Brown have two things in common. Both men played for the Lakers at one point in their careers, and both men have played for 12 different franchises during their careers. The difference between the two is that while Brown was a first round selection, Smith was the first overall selection in the 1996 draft. He came to the NBA as college player of the year, and was selected ahead of Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and Damon Stoudamire.
Smith’s career had already gone through eleven different teams, including two stints each with Minnesota and Cleveland before getting to Los Angeles. With the Lakers, Smith averaged less than one-point per game in 12 games, and his stint with the Lakers was the end of his NBA career. Today, Smith is trying to land a position as a basketball coach at some level, but many consider him one of the worst number-one picks in the history of the game.
4 PF: Jack Haley
Jack Haley has the distinction of having the same name as the actor who played The Tin Man in the original Wizard of Oz. He also has the distinction of appearing in a single game with the 1996 Chicago Bulls, the team that won a then-record 72 games and the NBA Championship, giving Haley an NBA Championship on his résumé. However, Haley’s career average is 3.5 points per game during the 10 years that he was in the NBA.
Haley’s stint with the Lakers would represent the last time that he would start a game, as he started in nine of the 49 games in which he appeared for the Lakers. However, even though Haley averaged less than 2 points and less than 2 rebounds per game with the Lakers, he managed to play five more seasons in the NBA. Unfortunately, Haley passed away at the age of 51 due to heart failure.
3 C: Chuck Nevitt
At the time that he was drafted, Chuck Nevitt, standing 7’5” tall, was the tallest person to ever be drafted into the NBA. Nevitt was selected nine picks before Utah center Mark Eaton, who at 7’4” became the second tallest person ever selected into the NBA. Nevitt had the opportunity to team with Ralph Sampson as the original Twin Towers, but he missed the entire 1984 season (Sampson’s first season), and after the season, Nevitt joined the Lakers.
With the 1985 Lakers, Nevitt played a total of 11 minutes and scored 12 points. However, despite his limited action, Nevitt became the tallest player in the history of the league to acquire an NBA Championship ring. Nevitt was also a member of the 1992 Chicago Bulls, but because he was only with the team for four games, he was not given a championship ring for that season. Unfortunately, Nevitt’s career is defined for him having the lowest scoring average for players 7’3” or taller who played at least 50 NBA games.
2 C: Earl Jones
The 1984 NBA Draft was the Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley draft. So many notable players came out of this draft that NBA TV produced a documentary about this draft. Earl Jones was the 23rd pick in this draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Stuart Gray, who played his high school ball in Los Angeles and attended UCLA, while playing the same position as Earl Jones, was taken six picks later. Gray played seven seasons in the NBA while Jones played 14 games over two seasons.
Of the 14 games that Jones appeared in, two of those games were with the Lakers. Jones played a total of seven minutes and took a single shot in his two appearances. After the season, Jones was traded to the Spurs, who waived him before he appeared in a single game. Within a few months, Jones was out of basketball, while Gray played another five years.
1 C: Benoit Benjamin
Benoit Benjamin was the third pick of the 1985 draft, which was the Patrick Ewing draft. Selected by the Clippers, Benjamin’s career started out with him being a better than average center in the NBA. However, his numbers and the level of his play began to slip, so the Clippers sent Benjamin to the Sonics, which began Benjamin’s run of nine NBA franchises during his career.
One of the nine teams that Benjamin played for was the Lakers, but by the time that Benjamin arrived with the Lakers, he was averaging four points, three rebounds and less than one shot block per game. After 28 games, Benjamin was traded from the Lakers during a period when the Lakers were looking for a replacement for the recently retired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Six years later, Benjamin was signed by the Lakers again, but he was waived before he had the opportunity to play in a game because Benjamin arrived out of shape. A career that started out with promise, ended with a fizzle.