The NBA is the ultimate showcase of athleticism, skill, and raw talent. However, not all players are created equal. We’re all familiar with the stat-board leading superstars, the supplemental role-players who compliment the top talents, and the utility players who come off the bench in certain situations to fill a niche. Then, there are the guys who have no real role on a team and no real destiny in sight. Now, keep in mind it’s hard to call any NBA player “bad,” as they are better than any baller off of the street and have exceeded the level needed to succeed in college basketball. It’s not just some group of chumps off we’re taking about.
It isn’t our purpose to disrespect or dismiss any professional athlete based on their sheer ability and contribution to the sport of basketball because let’s be serious, they would rip any of us apart on the court. However, what we have to say won’t come across as any sort of pomp or praise. There are a few contributing factors to keep in mind. How many turnovers do these guys average per minute? What’s their level of productivity when weighed against a high dollar, long-term contract? Are they living up to their draft stock? Of course, to be considered for this list a player will be required to have a few years under their belt. We must also consider the amount of minutes played, so we’re not picking on late draft rookies or guys who haven’t seen significant time on the floor.
Elaborate criteria aside, join us as we prepare to count down the not so prestigious list of the worst players in the NBA right now. Expect a little controversy and some unpopular opinions but also expect to have some fun. Don’t worry BYU fans, Jimmer Fredette is safe as far as this list goes… at least for now. Enjoy.
*Stats are correct as of November 23rd, 2015.
15. Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace was a joy to watch during his tenures in Sacramento and Charlotte. He was a true “swingman.” He had the ability the slash defenders and get to the hoop at will. He could also finish quite nicely, usually in the form of a two handed jam. Although Wallace isn’t currently active as he was waived by the 76ers after being traded by Boston, he was doing some pretty dismal things toward the end of his run as a Celtic. He went from averaging 24 minutes and 5 points in 2013-2014 to averaging 9 minutes and 1 point in 2014-2015. Granted, after a 16 year career, you can expect productivity to diminish, but Wallace hit a major cliff and fell off fast. He comes in at 15 on the list because he is only active by a technicality. If he were suiting up, you could expect to see him break the top 10.
14. Quincy Acy
As an avid Sacramento Kings fan, it pains me (only slightly) to add Acy to the list, but here’s the bare bones truth. Baylor standout Quincy Acy leaves a lot to be desired after three years in the NBA. He is averaging just over 10 minutes per game, while averaging less than two points and two rebounds per game. It should be taken into consideration that Acy was drafted by the Toronto Raptors before being dealt to the Kings, then was sent back to Toronto, then to the Knicks before winding up back in Sacramento. He has never been part of a system long enough to develop much as a player, but there’s a reason for that. Offensive incompetence aside, Acy’s real weak spot is his play on the defensive end. He is arguably one of the worst defenders in the league.
13. Robert Sacre
Robert Sacre looked like he had promise at the start of his career with the Lakers. He always gave his best effort during his limited minutes, it just hasn’t translated to much. He has averaged a total of 4.3 points per game while adding a dismal 3.2 rebounds per game to his stat sheet over the course of his four year career. Sadly, hard work and determination can only get you so far in today’s NBA. While the Lakers struggle to establish an identity in the soon to be post Kobe era, it’s unlikely that Sacre will be a major part of the forward movement. To top it all off, the guy is seven feet tall and has the work ethic of a thoroughbred. It’s just too bad he doesn’t have the skill to survive in the NBA. It may be only a matter of time before he is wished luck in his future endeavors.
12. Jeremy Lin
We all remember “Linsanity” from a few years back, when J Lin carried the Knicks on his back while Carmelo sat out with an injury. It was one of the most newsworthy NBA stories of the year and we were all on board for the ride. For a guy who has shown his upside, he has failed to become what everyone was sure he would. Lin has averaged 20 minutes per game throughout his career, while chalking up an average of two and a half turnovers for every game. No, that’s not the most damning statistic, but he also falls short shooting (.436) and is only averaging 11.7 points per game. His production hasn’t been this low since his rookie season with Golden State. He’s currently playing with his fifth team in the league and it’s likely only a matter of time before he finds himself elsewhere.
11. Josh Smith
One of the hottest free agents of the 2013-2014 season, Josh Smith has seemingly fallen far from the All-Star forward he once was. He spent two years in Detroit after a great career in Atlanta and it was during his time in Detroit that many began to question his passion for the game. He began to show signs of decline, not only in his ability but his attitude. He was cut by the Pistons during his second year and they still owe him buckets of cash. Immediately after ditching Smith, the Pistons went on their best run of the season. Now, this could be chalked up to coincidence, but it’s unlikely. He now plays for the LA Clippers where he averages 4.7 points in 15 minutes per game. It was fun while it lasted, J Smoove.
10. Andrea Bargnani
This 7 foot, 245 pound center is currently having the worst season of his career. It’s not worse than others by a small margin, it’s horrendous compared to his productivity from previous seasons. He averaged 15 points per game last season with the Knicks and this year he has seen his minutes cut in half while averaging just under six points per game. He has never been a strong rebounder, but averaging 1.8 boards per game is just unacceptable for a center of his size. Also, he’s averaging more personal fouls than blocks, which isn’t a staggering statistic, unless you realize that 0.2 blocks per game compared to 1.7 personal fouls per game is only footnote for how unproductive Bargnani has become. His defense doesn’t even deserve mention; you could just imagine it doesn’t exist. You wouldn’t have to imagine too hard. It really doesn’t exist.
9. Roy Hibbert
There was a time that you could have made a case for Roy Hibbert as a top 10 center based on his defense alone. He’s athletic, he has proven he can score, but he’s currently regressing into obscurity as a Laker, as he’s averaging less than 10 points and 7 rebounds in more than 26 minutes per game. We’re all aware that size doesn’t equal productivity in the NBA, as seen in previous centers on the list, but we’ve all seen Hibbert do great things on the court. Maybe it’s the system in LA, maybe it’s injuries, maybe it’s his attitude, but that’s all just speculation. So, on that note, it’s safe to speculate that we won’t see Hibbert break out of his slump this season. As the Lakers try to build around their young nucleus, it’s unclear how much of a part of the rebuilding process that Hibbert will be.
8. Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans almost gets a pass due to being out with injury, but not quite. The same factors that have plagued his game since his early years in Sacramento have remained a part of his player resume ever since. Evans is a good scorer, not great. When a player lacks as much defensive ability and effort as does Evans, they had better be a great scorer to compensate. He’s not quite there yet, nor will he ever be. He’s also playing in New Orleans with a $44 million contract for four years. That seems like a lot of money to pay a guy who is so ghastly on the defensive end. It’s the stark contrast in salary and productivity that make Evans an easy addition to this list. He’s going to have to do a lot of great things after recovering from his injury if he wants to prove his value to any future team. The sad thing is that Tyreke has great athleticism and potential. He just hasn’t made any upward stride since his second and third years in the league.
7. Randy Foye
Randy Foye is somewhat of a veteran, with nine years of NBA experience under his belt. He has never been an All Star caliber guy, but not every player can be. He also seems like a pretty likable guy which saves from the potential list of the top 15 most unlikable NBA players. In terms of his play this year, he’s averaging 4.6 points in 20 minutes and none of his other stats are even worth mentioning. Foye doesn’t play defense, on ball or off. One would imagine that if you were so severely deficient in offensive contributions that you would try to step it up on defense. That’s not the case with Randy Foye and he’s not the veteran the Nuggets need at the moment. Players guarded by Foye shoot 43.1%. Let that sink in.
6. Rajon Rondo
Is Rajon Rondo one of the worst players in the league as far as skill set and production? Absolutely not. However, his antics during the playoffs last season in Dallas lead many to wonder just what Rondo’s problem is. Before that incident, he was suspended after a profanity laced rant at coach Rick Carlisle at mid-season last year, who is regarded as one of the best coaches in history. Rondo just didn’t seem to care and didn’t show any effort with Dallas. The point isn’t that Rondo isn’t a great player, it’s his attitude and mistakes on the court that sully his profile.While he is slowly adapting to a new role in Sacramento, it remains to be seen if he will shine through or if his attitude problems will hinder his tenure in Sacramento.
5. Omer Asik
There’s not much to say about Omer Asik, other than that he hasn’t been great since being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2008. He has only successfully averaged 10 points per game in one season during his five year career and the 2015-2016 season has been his worst season so far. He is currently averaging less than two points per game and is only coming up with 4.7 rebounds per game. There was a lot of talk during his draft year about him having some upside, but he hasn’t shown any at all. He is a great candidate for a season or two in the NBADL, but it’s more likely he’ll be heading overseas within the next few years. He doesn’t score and his defense has more holes than a piece of aged swiss cheese. Not a great combo.
4. JaVale McGee
Here is another player who has been sidelined with an injury this season. However, it’s safe to say his best years are definitely behind him. 2014-2015 proved to be McGee’s worst season in his career, illustrating his downward movement in value. He averaged only 4.6 points per game last yea, an, during his limited minutes early this season, he didn’t put up anything noteworthy in any of his stat columns. Maybe he will come back refreshed from injury and show some of the promise and vigor he displayed during his 2010-2013 run. However, it seems highly unlikely at this point.
3. Kevin Garnett
It’s not exactly fair to pick on KG, as he is a first ballot Hall of Famer and has been in the league for so long, that you can’t expect much from him in his twilight years. However, as we enter the top three, things will be brought up primarily for the sake of discussion. KG has value in a veteran role in Minnesota, the team that drafted him back in 1995. There’s no better guy to learn from, but he no longer has the capability to take over a game or lead a young team on any significant playoff run. While one of the all time great power forwards, age has set in and Garnett has been reduced to a shell of himself. In no way does this ranking choice intend to disrespect or demean Garnett’s career as a whole. We hope he plays as long as he’s able to, as he’s one of the best players of the past two decades. He’s just not doing much for anyone this year, despite starting and playing valuable minutes. Sorry, KG.
2. Tyler Hansbrough
The North Carolina stand out and ACC scoring champion has done nothing but decline in productivity since 2010. He was the 13th overall draft pick in 2009 and had a ton of momentum coming into the league after winning a national Championship as a Tarheel. He once averaged 20 minutes per game and 10 points and served as a spark plus for a team due to his hustle and intensity. No one thought he was the next Tim Duncan by any stretch, but there were high hopes and aspirations for Hansbrough. Well, instead he’s currently averaging 2.8 points per game on 37.5% shooting. Keep in mind, his minutes have diminished, but that’s due to his diminished productivity. At least he’s playing in Charlotte, a place where people still want to see him. The new age Mark Madsen has come to the end of his rope in the NBA, yet we hope his dance moves are better than the Mad Dog’s.
1. Kobe Bryant
Here’s a choice that’s sure to ruffle some feathers. One of the most loved (and hated) players of all time, Kobe has found himself in an interesting position this season. Kobe, arguably one of the top five greatest players of all time, has assumed a role that has some Laker fans scratching their heads. Kobe is averaging 5.5 made field goals compared to 16 .6 attempts per game. Kobe was slated at the beginning of the season to be taking on a more reserved role, playing no more than 15 minutes per game.
Well, here we are at the end of November and Kobe is averaging 31.1 minutes per game.
Kobe somehow worked his way back into being the centerpiece of the Lakers offense, while the 2015 number two overall pick, D’Angelo Russell spends more time on the bench, taking fewer shots. Now, we all know Kobe is still capable of taking over a game, but why? The Lakers have a young squad that needs to develop together. It’s not as if the Lakers have any great chance of making the playoffs this year, so why is Kobe still seeing so many minutes and attempting so many shots?
With his two-year, $49 million contract contract expiring at the end of this season, it’s unclear if Kobe will return to the Lakers or the NBA. He has said “it would take a significant change” for him to return and who knows what that means exactly. Does he want more playing time? More shot attempts? Or does he expect more from the young players whose experience he is indirectly putting a limit on? I wonder what Coach K was thinking when Kobe said this during their Sirius XM interview. We would really love to know.
In any event, Kobe wins the prestigious #1 spot on this list due to his poor play this year and his stunting of his teammates’ development.
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