When the NBA reaches the festive period you’re able to draw certain conclusions from the rosters of each squad. With the Golden State Warriors setting the pace at a ridiculous standard, the chasing field has to find the little one percentage points that will make the difference between making the playoffs or sitting back and watching the April and May action from their lounge rooms.
So this is where it gets tough and managers have to justify the people employed on the payroll. Do we stick, or do we twist? Is the potential going to stay just that, or will they blossom into the star that the coaching staff expected at the beginning of the season?
Conversely, what about the experienced filler players plugging the holes in the list? Are they really providing the value for money their agent promised or are they wasting everybody’s time? Before long enough is enough in this cutthroat environment and with an eye towards the next draft period heads will roll.
Whether it’s through a lack of talent, conviction or sheer incompetence at the highest level of basketball in the world – there are players on the court right now who don’t deserve their jobs. The fans can see it, the commentators and reporters know it, so now the acid test has to be put to the franchises to see if they are ruthless enough to accept the facts.
No one has a right to play in the NBA. This is no a luxury gifted to the talented. It’s earned through performance. Like any profitable company will tell you – the bottom line is everything in business and falling short of expectations every year carries consequences.
Just in time for Christmas, here are the 15 NBAers on Santa’s naughty list because they do not deserve their jobs.
15 Garrett Temple
Aside from an 18-point haul against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014, there isn’t a lot Garrett Temple is doing to justify his position on the Washington Wizards roster. The lanky 6ft 6 29-year old shooting guard has dipped in and out of multiple teams from the D-League and NBA since 2009 when he wasn’t drafted from LSU. His stats are patchy at best and pathetic at worst, failing to make an impact for a club aiming for big things in the next few seasons.
14 Johnny O’Bryant III
Sometimes the cruel twist of fate can be the decisive factor in a player’s development, like the time when Johnny O’Bryant suffered a sprain to his medial collateral ligament in 2014 for the Bucks. He might be back on the court now, but his stats make for modest reading. A career-high 9 rebounds in the final hit out of last season and a field goal shooting success rate of 38% isn’t the making of a man who will transition well from the LSU to NBA superstardom. At 22 he can still be regarded a prospect. On form now though he’s doing little to justify the punt the Bucks have taken on him.
13 Cameron Bairstow
Cameron Bairstow was brought back in from the cold this month to strengthen the Bulls stocks, but for how much longer will the Chicago franchise wait until the Aussie comes good? The 25-year old Boomers center is at a critical juncture in his career and although Australia rely on him for his size and status as an NBA player, the Olympics are just around the corner and he will need to justify his selection. With the European leagues potentially interested and even a change back home on the cards, Bairstow really is on struggle street as far as his NBA paycheck is concerned.
12 Robert Sacre
Work ethic might not be his shortcoming, but his end quality certainly comes into question. Byron Scott isn’t even subtle anymore with his apathy for the player, making only 18 starts out of a possible 67 last campaign. For arguably the biggest franchise of the West Coast, they are getting embarrassed by their cross-city rivals and aren’t even on the same planet as the outfit from the Bay Area. 3 wins from 24 tells it’s own story in 2015 and carrying the deadweight of guys like Sacre is one of the key reasons why the Lakers are the tale of woe.
11 Anthony Bennett
Let’s hope Dwane Casey and the Toronto Raptors know something we don’t because on current viewing, Anthony Bennett is plugging a gap on the roster without pulling his sizeable weight around to justify it. His offensive play at the Cavs ranked 13th worst of all forwards in the NBA in 2013-14 and a short stay at the Minnesota Timberwolves showed us nothing to see why the Raptors would pick him up. Perhaps home comforts for the Canadian local will reap rewards, but it will take a huge turnaround of fortunes on current viewing.
10 Walter Tavares
It’s easy to see why the Atlanta Hawks were clambering over themselves to sign the Cap Verde native. Picked up at 43rd overall pick in 2014, Walter Tavares has been shifted out to the Austin Spurs and Canton Charge in the D-League to give the 23-year old some experience in American conditions. At 7ft 3 the towering presence is all size at this point and if he’s to convince the Hawks he’s the real deal then he has to post stats that come close to matching his colossal frame. Right now he’d be better off as window cleaner than tapping in rebounds, so he has to make this opportunity count.
9 Archie Goodwin
Clutch 3-point shooters are worth their weight in gold in this division, just ask Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. That makes Archie Goodwin’s career-high 12-points and 6 rebounds against the Lakers long overdue as the 21-year old prodigy from Kentucky struggles to adapt to life in the NBA. His 2013-14 stats made for shocking reading by any measure, at one stage tallying 10% completion from the field without any success on the left side of the court.
8 John Lucas III
Struggles to pass the ball – check. Finishing an issue – correct. Shooting below par – absolutely. It’s no wonder why the 33-year old veteran is without a club at the moment because the journeyman’s figures demonstrate why the point guard has never settled over the decade he’s been in the game at the highest level. In 2013-14 for the Utah Jazz Lucas’ stats stood at 4.3 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.4 SPG and 1.1 APG. He might be on free agency but don’t expect a phone call John.
7 Christapher Johnson
The numbers are slowly creeping towards respectability. And by creeping we mean at a snails pace. The 6ft 6 shooting guard from Ohio has yet to put his name up in lights in the NBA, moving from the Grizzlies to the Celtics, 76ers, Jazz, Bucks and back to the Jazz. His PPG stats are gradually increasing from a pitiful 3.6 in 2012-13 at Memphis to the 7.0 he currently enjoys at the Jazz. It’s not nothing, but if the Jazz want to do more than break even in the Western Conference then they can’t wait for Christapher Johnson to come good. At this rate that will happen in 2025.
6 Byron Mullens
Labeled in some quarters as a 7-year prospect for always having the promise but rarely delivering the goods, Byron Mullens’ fall into the NBAs Development League really should come as no surprise – especially to Byron himself. To date his longest stay in the NBA is 2 consecutive seasons, once with Oklahoma in 2011 and again with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2013. The 7ft tall monster of a center has the size, yet you could count the amount of times on one hand he’s used that to his benefit. The 24th overall pick in the 2009 draft is simply filling space at this point.
5 Duje Dukan
Given a reprieve of sorts by the Sacramento Kings to salvage their season, Duje Dukan can consider himself a lucky man. The Croatian national carries a healthy frame at 218 lbs. at 6ft 10, yet the Wisconsin product has a huge road ahead of him if he’s to convince George Karl that he can oust the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein in the center role of the court. There’s not a lot of evidence out there to prove that such a task is in his wheelhouse, so Dukan must use his recall to justify his job for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign.
4 Phil Pressey
As a young up-and-coming prospect from the Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts Phil Pressey stood out from the crowd. For the dreaded kid sporting the sweatband as his unique look, that’s where Pressey’s exceptionalism has come to a grinding holt. 125 matches for Boston across 2013 to 2015 meant he couldn’t hold the management at fault for not giving him an opportunity, not evening accumulating 4 PPG at any stage. His D-League status at Idaho Stampede is an insight into a 24-year old lacking any sort of confidence or quality for the NBA level.
3 Kendrick Perkins
A 2008 championship with the Celtics was the undoubted career highlight for Kendrick Perkins, going above his best ever PPG average of 10.1 in the regular season to amass 11.9 in the playoffs. But this was a flash in the pan that has not even come close to being replicated since. The 31-year old center is now setting up camp at the beleaguered New Orleans Pelicans and to get any idea why that franchise is struggling only has to look at the fact Perkins stunk out the Cavaliers last start.
2 Elliot Williams
When the New Orleans Pelicans tell you “no thank you,” then it should be a time to reflect on other career opportunities. If only Elliot Williams had someone who could have offered him this advice some years ago before being widely ridiculed as one of the great unheralded players in the game. The 6ft 5 shooting guard from Memphis was picked at 22 by Portland until he was chopped and picked up at Philadelphia. He stunk the joint out there with a shooting percentage of 37 and a demotion to the D-League with Santa Cruz means Williams has found his level. If he pops up again in the NBA we can’t say we didn’t warn them.
1 Shabazz Muhammad
The girls might like a bit of Shabazz Muhammad, but they’re not NBA list managers. That incident was a small insight into the lack of professionalism the 2013 number 14 draft pick has demonstrated throughout his career when he was selected by the Jazz. Yet he wouldn’t get his chance until the Minnesota Timberwolves came knocking in 2013. After a first up season to forget with a PPG average of only 3.9, Shabazz’s 2015 started well until he tore a ligament in his middle finger. Maybe it was all the strain of telling off the haters, but he’s still surprisingly around the traps for franchise. Go figure!