They say that Michael Jordan did not have an impressive enough performance at tryouts to make his high school basketball team. Everyone has an “off” game and everyone is human right? But what if a player has more than just one off-game, or even an “off” season? The NBA is home to many great players, and also to some flukes as well.
Being in the greatest basketball league in the world, it is imperative for these athletes to bring their best game with no excuses. And sometimes, playing at such a high caliber of professional competition can thrust tremendous pressure upon an athlete. There are many players in the NBA who have produced great numbers throughout a season, but failed to stay consistent throughout their career. Are these players just having a couple “off” seasons? Or could it be that they are just not capable of competing with world’s most skilled basketball players on a consistant? Here are the top 15 fluke seasons in NBA history.
16 Larry Hughes (2004-05)
During the 2004-05 season, Larry Hughes appeared in the starting lineup every single game and played nearly 40 minutes each game for the Washington Wizards. A 26 year old Hughes dropped 408 2-point field goals out of an attempted 877 and this was the first season that Hughes scored more than 45.5% of his 2-point attempts. It was also the only season that he averaged more than 20 points per game, ending the season with 22 points per game. Not only was this Hughes’ most offensive season, but it was his most defensive as well. Larry Hughes averaged 5.0 defensive rebounds and 2.9 steals per game; both being far and away his career highs in those categories. This would be the last season that Hughes would play for the Washington Wizards, as he later became a part of the LeBron-dependent Cleveland Cavaliers roster of the mid 2000s and would never reach these heights again.
15 Don May (1970-71)
Don May played in the NBA back when Buffalo was still home to a franchise, so many younger fans won't be aware of him. He played for the Buffalo Braves for one out of his seven professional career seasons and it's where he achieved the most success. After averaging 3.5 points per game with the New York Knicks in his first two years, he averaged 20.2 points per game in his third year with the Braves. The 1970-71 season is the only season that Don May would accumulate more than 600 points, with a impressive career high of 1,535. During this season, May was far less familiar with the bench than he was in any other season before or after., as the 1970-71 season provided May’s career high of minutes played; both average per game as well as season total. The small forward was also decent on the glass during this fluke season, finishing with 7.5 rebounds per game, which is four more than his career average.
14 Devin Harris (2008-09)
Prior to Devin Harris’ fifth year in the NBA, his game was slowly evolving and developing. In the middle of the 2007-08 season, Harris was traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the New Jersey Nets along with Keith Van Horn, Trenton Hassell, DeSagana Diop, Maurice Ager, 3 million dollars, and a couple of first-round draft picks in exchange for Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, and Antoine Wright. The following season with New Jersey certainly proved to be Harris’ most effective. He averaged 21.3 points per game, more than he had ever accomplished throughout the entirety of his career, as he never topped 20 points again. During that season, Harris also attained career highs of 3.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. Harris is now playing with the Dallas Mavericks again, where he has not scored more than 10 points per game since his return.
13 Mike James (2005-06)
Mike James had a weak start to his NBA career, playing for five teams during his first four years and never really managing to establish himself as a starting point guard for a franchise. Mike James had never averaged more than 12 points per game during a season until he ended up with his sixth team in 2005/06, the Toronto Raptors. He had also never scored from the 3-point line at more than 38.6% accuracy before that year. By the end of that 2005-06 season, James’ had hit 44.2% of his shots from beyond the arc. His 48.1% percent accuracy from 2-point range and overall field goal percentage of 46.9% were also career highs for James. Starting in 79 games for the Raps, James managed to score 20.3 points per game, never coming close to that figure again during his lengthy NBA career. He also managed the most assists per game of his career, ending the year with 5.8 per game.
12 Jerry Stackhouse (2000-01)
Jerry Stackhouse was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers in the middle of his third season in the league, being moved to the Detroit Pistons where he would spend a total of four years. During his first full season in Detroit, Jerry Stackhouse had the worst season of his career in the NBA up to that point. Despite that, during the following season, Stackhouse saw a massive increase in playing time. He also began seeing improvements in his scoring ability and shot accuracy. By the end of Stackhouse’s third season with the Detroit Pistons, he shot from the 3-point line at more than 35% accuracy, which is an all-time high for Jerry Stackhouse. He also nearly doubled his career average points per game (which stands at 16.9 PPG) during the 2000-01 season by scoring 29.8 points per game and making his second and final All-Star team. Stackhouse would never come close to those number again despite playing until the age of 38.
10 Dana Barros (1994-95)
Dana Barros spent his first four years of his professional career in Seattle with Shawn Kemp and the rest of the Sonics. During his time in Seattle, Barros’ points per game average was below 10 and his average in assists was only 2. He saw a slight improvement in his points per game average with the Philadelphia 76ers during his fifth year. And by his second year with the 76ers, Dana Barros was starting every single game and lighting up the league. The 1994-95 season was the first season that Barros was in the starting lineup for every single game of the season. During that year, Barros averaged 20.6 points and 7.5 assists per game, making the only All-Star game of his career. After being awarded with the Most Improved Player in the NBA, Barros would never break 13-point or 4-assist per game averages in a season throughout the rest of his career.
9 Don MacLean (1993-94)
The 1993-94 easily proved to be Don Maclean’s most efficient season. After playing at power forward in 1992-93 during his rookie season for the Washington Bullets, he was later moved to small forward. Switching positions may have been the best thing to happen to MacLean and he exploded in his second year in the league. MacLean finished that year with averages of 18.2 points, 2.1 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, which are all easily career highs for him, as he finished his career with averages of 10.9 points, 1.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. The next year, MacLean spent far more time on the bench than his breakout year, experiencing a cut of 6.2 minutes per game. He dropped to 11 points per game and was never seen as a credible threat in the NBA again.
8 Andrew Bynum (2011-12)
Andrew Bynum had an immense amount of potential. Bynum spent his first seven years with the Lakers and was seen as their ideal replacement for Shaquille O'Neal, who had moved on to the Heat two years before his arrival. During his last season playing as a Los Angeles Laker, Bynum reached new career highs, grabbing 11.8 rebounds and scoring 18.7 points per game, leading to his only All-Star game appearance. During the first round of the playoffs that year, Andrew Bynum and the Lakers faced the Denver Nuggets in a series where Bynum averaged 16.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. However, due to injury concerns, Andrew Bynum was included in a four-team trade that also involved Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala, ending up in Philadelphia. However, severe knee injuries resulted in arthroscopic surgeries on both of his knees and ended his season in Philly. He was then moved again and Bynum spent his last season on two separate teams, managing 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
7 Michael Adams (1990-91)
The 1990-91 season is the only season that Michael Adams would share an offensive relationship on the court with Orlando Woolridge. It was also the first time he would join up with Reggie Williams and the last time he would be on a team with Walter Davis. During that season, Adams averaged 10.5 assists and a massive 16.5 points per game, though he would be snubbed from the All-Star game. He'd then move on to Washington, where his numbers would take a sizable dip, down to 7.6 assists and 18.1 points per game, though he did manage to make the All-Star game in his first year in Washington. From that point forward, Adams' numbers would continue to drip in every year and he was out of the league four years later.
6 Lucius Allen (1974-75)
Lucius Allen was the third overall pick in 1969 and was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics, where he spent his rookie season as their point guard. He only managed 9.8 points and 4.2 assists and was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after that season. During his first season in Milwaukee, his average points per game dropped by 3 points and his assists nearly halved in comparison to his previous season. Lucius Allen spent a total of four total seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers after playing in 10 games of the 1974-75 season. During this season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Allen accomplished multiple career highs, including a season average of 19.1 points per game (which include his 10 games with the Bucks). His performance in LA consisted of a total of 56 games, where he averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 assists, 2.2 steals per game. The following year, his season average dropped below 15 points per game and continued to decline until he retired at the age of 31.
5 Jeremy Lin (2011-12)
Jeremy Lin was not drafted to the NBA out of college. In 2010, Lin signed a contract with his hometown team, the Golden State Warriors. While playing with the Golden State team, Jeremy Lin did not start during a single game and he played less than 10 minutes each game on average. After Lin scored less than 3 points per game with Golden State, he was waived in order to clean up the team’s payroll. He was then picked up by the New York Knicks where he went on to have the greatest season of his NBA career. Throughout the 2011/12 season, Lin scored career highs with 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game, along with a 44.6% field goal accuracy. He took the Knicks on his back that year and became one of the hottest stars in the NBA. After moving to Houston the following season, Lin’s performance declined and it was clear that he was only a flash in the pan. He hasn't been a consistant starter since his first year in Houston and has been bouncing around the league as a marginal backup point guard.
4 Dorell Wright (2010-11)
When Dorell Wright was 19 years old, he was drafted to the NBA by the Miami Heat where he spent six years. Before leaving Miami, Wright’s career average was at 6.3 points per game. During the offseason in the summer of 2010, the Golden State Warriors signed Wright to a three year deal worth around $11 million. It would be during the 2010-11 season that Dorell Wright started every single game of the season for the first time in his professional career. He established career highs of 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. On November 27th, 2010, he scored nine 3-point field goals in a single game, breaking a franchise record that was previously set by Jason Richardson in 2007. He never managed to attain similar numbers again and Wright signed with a professional team in the Chinese Basketball Association in the summer of 2015.
3 Richard Dumas (1992-93)
Richard Dumas only spent a total of three years in the NBA. He was originally drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the second round. During his rookie year, Dumas averaged 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game, making it seem like a new star had been born in the NBA. Although he was suspended from league early on in his first season for violating NBA substance abuse policies, Dumas played about 50 games of the season. Dumas was then one of the driving forces that helped lead the Suns to the NBA Finals during the 1992-93 season. In the 1993 NBA Finals, Dumas scored 15.8 points and grabbed 4.3 rebounds per game and he did this against a Chicago Bulls team that included Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Sadly, he'd miss the next season due to a stint in rehab and only lasted two more season in the NBA.
2 John Starks (1993-94)
During John Starks rookie season with the Golden State Warriors, he played less than nine minutes per game and didn’t appear in the starting lineup once. After being cut from the Warriors, Starks was picked up by the New York Knicks. Starks injured his knee trying to dunk over Knicks starting center Patrick Ewing during a preseason practice and could not participate in the 1989-90 season. He stepped back into the game the following season and slowed improved on a yearly basis. By the 1993-94 season, Starks scored 19 points per game and was named to the All-Star game. During this season, he also averaged 5.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. He would never come to those numbers again, despite continuing to be a solid NBAer.
1 Damon Stoudamire (1996-97)
Damon Stoudamire was the Toronto Raptors’ first ever draft pick. Although Stoudemire spent a majority of his career with the Portland TrailBlazers, his best production certainly came from his time spent with the Toronto Raptors. He played for the Toronto team for his first two seasons and was later traded to Portland along with Walt Williams and Carlos Rogers. The three players were traded in exchange for Gary Trent, Kenny Anderson, Alvin Williams, two first-round draft picks, and a second-round draft pick. However, Stoudamire’s most notable season is easily his second year, where he averaged 20.2 points and 8.8 assists per game. This was also the only season that Stoudamire’s scoring exceeded a total of 1,331 points. Following being traded to the Portland roster, Stoudamire’s would descend into a silent final 11 professional seasons.