Ahhh the NBA. The league has seen an incredible amount of talent over the years, with timeless greats like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James putting on dazzling performances on a nightly basis. But for every MJ or Kareem there's always going to be a Kwame Brown to even out the balance of talent in the NBA.
While it's hard to say any basketball player that has made it to the world's largest stage is downright awful, there are clearly some players who don't look like they belong in the gym with the game's best. The NBA is a league where the best of the best play, so some players will look less than stellar compared to top talent. There are other factors, such as work ethic, team situation, and personal issues that affect players' performances.
Over the past few years, the game of basketball has significantly changed, relying less on big men, who have extended their range to outside the paint. Here at The Sportster, we decided to come up with a list of 15 such players from the last 15 seasons that were just downright awful. These aren't just a bunch of no-name benchwarmers either, rather, guys who have gotten opportunities but failed to do anything with them.
15 2002-03: Kwame Brown
We'll kick this list off with one of the most disappointing draft picks in recent memory-- big man Kwame Brown. Michael Jordan's first blunder as an executive was picking Brown with the number one overall pick in the 2001 draft. Unfortunately for Brown, his career never got off to the trajectory that most thought it would, and underwhelmed for most of his career.
Brown never averaged more than 10.9 points per game at any point in his career, but it was during his sophomore year that it was already apparent the big man would not live up to expectations. Brown averaged 7.4 points per game and a pedestrian 5.3 rebounds, and will unfortunately be remembered more for being the guy that Michael Jordan made cry, than any of his exploits on the court.
14 2003-04: DeSagana Diop
DeSagana Diop was another big-man bust selected in the infamous 2001 NBA draft. The 7'0 Senegalese player was the eighth overall pick in that draft, and much like Kwame Brown, was a total flop. Despite his seven foot frame and massive wing span, Diop never averaged more than 5.4 rebounds a game at any point in his career.
He also never averaged more than 3 points a game, and his 2.3 PPG in 2003-04 became much of the norm for Diop. I think it's safe to say Diop was one of the worst NBA players for much of his time in the league. During the 2003-04 season with Cleveland, he averaged 2.3 PPG while shooting 38 % from the field off. If LeBron couldn't make you look good, there is no hope for you.
Diop would go on to play for the Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets, and Charlotte Bobcats before moving on to a coaching career.
13 2004-05: Rafael Araujo
This pick is an absolute no-brainer, with center Rafael Araujo continuing the theme of lottery big men who struggled mightily in the NBA. Araujo was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the eighth overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft, but it was evident early on he would not have a productive career in the NBA.
Araujo's NBA tenure was actually so disappointing that it only lasted a measly three seasons. The 3.3 points per game Rafael averaged in his rookie season would actually turn out to be his career high, but there was no doubt he was one of, if not the worst player in the NBA that year. He would last just one more season in Toronto before signing with the Jazz, where he also vastly underwhelmed.
The Raptors missed out on Andre Iguodala who was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers right after Araujo with the 10th pick of the draft.
12 2005-06: Brian Cook
It's somewhat of a miracle that journeyman Brian Cook's career in the NBA lasted close to a decade. Selected with the 23rd pick of the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, Cook immediately became a part of L.A.'s rotation as a backup to All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal.
Cook was originally brought in to be a three-point specialist and stretch five, he proved quickly that he was not a very good shooter from deep. When Phil Jackson returned to coach the Lakers in 05-06, he made sure Cook stopped shooting threes. While Cook's overall field goal percentage did increase that season, he was far from an impactful player on a Laker's team devoid of talent.
In the 2005-06 season, Cook played a career-high 19 minutes where he averaged 7.9 points in 81 games. Needless to say, his court time would significantly decrease over the next few years.
11 2006-07: Darko Milicic
What a surprise, yet another big man manages to make this list! Another one of the biggest busts in NBA history, Darko Milicic was by far one of the worst players in the league when he got a chance to play. Milicic was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the second pick of a legendary 2003 draft which included LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony.
Unfortunately for both Milicic and the Pistons, it was evident from the onset that he was far from the type of NBA player that any of those other guys turned out to be. But hey, at least he won a ring! I mean he did average a whopping .1 points during the Piston's 2004 playoff run, so there's that...
Darko had to be on this and he was a candidate for different years, but we went with 2006-07 as he played a career-high games of 80 for the Magic, where he cemented his legacy as one of the biggest busts in NBA history.
10 2007-08: Brian Scalabrine
I know this is going to be a super unpopular choice, but unfortunately it had to be done. While Brian Scalabrine has been the poster-boy for NBA memes since his playing days, there's no denying the popular player gained his popularity for all the wrong reasons. Scalabrine was not a good NBA player, and despite winning a championship after the 2007-08 season, he will never be remembered as one.
During his team's championship season, he averaged 1.5 points per game, and didn't manage to see action in a single playoff game. While he will forever be remembered in NBA celebrity lore, there's no denying he was also one of the worst players to ever play professional basketball. If only he tried one of his patented fadeaway dunks in an NBA game...
9 2008-09: Jason Kapono
Although Jason Kapono had some pretty productive years in the NBA including being the only player in NBA history to lead the league in 3 point percentage in back-to-back seasons, he still managed to look downright awful at times. This includes the 2008-09 season with the Toronto Raptors.
The season following his historic feat, Kapono's game took a massive step back, and his career began to spiral downhill from there. Despite at one point being the most accurate three point shooter in NBA history, he only managed to play three more seasons with the Sixers and the Lakers after the 2008-09 season, and then quickly became just another NBA afterthought.
The NBA is definitely a "What have you done for me lately" leagues, to say the least. In the 2008-09 season, Kapono's 3P% would significantly go down as he was shipped out of Toronto.
8 2009-10: Johan Petro
Johan Petro was nothing more than a mediocre player throughout his time in the NBA, However, during the 2009-10 season Petro was arguably the worst player to suit up and play impactful minutes for a ball club. Despite his massive frame, the 7-foot Petro never averaged more than 5.1 rebounds a game, and during that 09-10 season, he only managed to pull down a paltry 3.6 boards per contest.
Petro managed to play just three more seasons with the Nets and Hawks, but hasn't gotten a call from an NBA team since despite being just 31 years of age. In the past few years, he has spent his time playing in the D-League as well as around the world. It’s safe to say Petro won’t be making an NBA comeback anytime soon, and it’s really not hard to see why.
7 2010-11: Renaldo Balkman
During his time in the NBA, Renaldo Balkman was always known more for his competitive spirit and grit than actual basketball ability. Balkman was always an underdog, but despite his work ethic and the massive chip on his shoulder, he never was able to develop a reliable offensive skill sket to prove his worth in the NBA.
In 2010-11, his second and last season with the Nuggets, Balkman played sparingly and averaged a lowly 2.6 points a game. Later that season, Balkman returned to the team that drafted him-- the New York Knicks, as a part of the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade. He still struggled to find a niche in New York, and only played sparingly the next few seasons before fizzling out of the NBA all together.
6 2011-12: Mike Bibby
There's no denying Mike Bibby was a productive player during his prime years in the NBA, but the same can't be said for the 2011-12 version of the former Kings point guard. Bibby signed with the Knicks during the 2011-12 lockout, and ended up backing up Jeremy Lin during 'Linsanity'.
However, after Lin got injured, Bibby split starting point guard duties with fellow veteran Baron Davis, and put together his worst season yet. Bibby finished the season averaging 2.6 points per game, and was never signed by an NBA team again. It was somewhat of a disappointing way for Bibby to end his stellar NBA career, but there was no arguing that Bibby was one of the worst regular rotational players in the NBA that season.
It was sad to see Mike Bibby struggle as he didn't have it at all.
5 2012-13: Sebastian Telfair
There were high expectations placed on Sebastian Telfair when he first came into the league back in 2004, but unfortunately for the point guard, he failed to meet almost all of them. Telfair was one of the last players to make the jump from high school to the NBA, and in hindsight, it could have served Telfair well to play college ball.
He was not an above-average point guard at any point in his career, with perhaps his worst statistical season coming during the 2012-13 year. Splitting time between Toronto and Phoenix, Telfair averaged a measly 5.6 points and 2.6 assists per game. Telfair would go on to play just one more season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2014-15 season.
Telfair went from gracing magazines cover next to LeBron James prior to making it in the NBA, but he will be remembered as a bust who didn't fulfill his potential.
4 2013-14: Hasheem Thabeet
Hasheem Thabeet was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, but his actual NBA contributions deem him far from worthy of such a high draft slot. The Memphis Grizzlies drafted the big man with hopes he could one day provide a shot-blocking presence in the middle of their lineup.
However, the 7'3 behemoth never lived up to expecations, and never averaged more than the 3.1 points per game he averaged his rookie season. His worst season also happened to be his last, and it's difficult to argue that Thabeet wasn't the absolute worst player in the NBA during the 2013-14 season.
He averaged a paltry stat line of 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, and never received another NBA offer again. What a shocker.
3 2014-15: Anthony Bennett
The Cleveland Cavaliers tried to get cute when they selected Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, and boy did their gamble backfire. Bennett is essentially guaranteed to go down as the biggest bust in NBA history, and rightfully so.
Bennett was shipped over to the Timberwolves in the deal for Kevin Love after just one season in Cleveland, and there was no denying he was one of the worst players in the league that year.
Bennett averaged just 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds while failing to make any sort of impact in Minnesota, or any of his other following stops for that matter. Bennett lacks the size to be a true power forward and also doesn’t posses a consistent enough outside shot to effectively play the three, essentially leaving him without a true position in the NBA.
2 2015-16: Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao was a very effective player during his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Brazilian big man is now just a shell of his former self. Varejao was waived by Cleveland last year, and ended the year playing for the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
Varejao saw extended playing time in the NBA finals after Draymond Green's suspension and Andrew Bogut's season-ending injury, and did not play well to say the least. Varejao's extended minutes were a factor in the Warrior's infamous 3-1 blown Final's lead, but his poor play should have come as a shock to no one.
The big man played poorly throughout the entire regular season, averaging 2.6 points per game in both Cleveland and Golden State while proving to be one of the least effective players in the entire NBA.
1 2016-17: Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert's All-Star selections in 2012 and 2014 are starting to appear stranger by the day. Hibbert has had one of the biggest falls from NBA grace in recent memory, and he is now arguably the worst rotational player in the entire NBA. After spending the first seven years of his career on the Indiana Pacers, Hibbert has struggled to find a new NBA home because of his diminishing play.
He’s been on four teams in the past two seasons, and has been traded twice this year alone (the Hornets shipped him to Milwaukee earlier in the year, where he was promptly traded to the Nuggets before even playing a game for the Bucks).
Hibbert has played sparingly since being traded, and with pedestrian averages of 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, it's hard to imagine the former All-Star even being on another team’s roster next season.
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