The NBA All-Star weekend has a strong case for being the best All-Star celebration in any of America’s major sports leagues. It’s due in part to the spotlight that’s on the NBA at this time of the year. It comes in February, when it’s just the NBA and NHL in the heat of their respective seasons. It also is strategically placed just a few short days before each season’s trade deadline, so some of the NBA’s finest are soon to be on the move. Without counting festivities like the three point contest and Slam Dunk competition, the NBA All-Star game has produced iconic sports moments. Moments like when Magic Johnson returned from his HIV diagnosis to win MVP in 1992, or when teenage Kobe matched up with the already-GOAT Michael Jordan in 1998. When the world’s best players are on one court, magic happens. But sometimes, it’s not the world’s best players that are on that court.
Eager to please their audience, the league lets fans vote in the starters each year. So in the moment, it’s definitely fun to see some of the season’s faves make their mark at the game. But with hindsight on our side, some of these picks look dubious at best. The coaches decide the rest of the rosters, and they aren’t perfect either. For this list, we’re taking a look at the worst players that ever got to represent their conference at the All-Star game. Some guys got in due to one magical season, others found the opportunity when better players went down due to injury, and some head-scratching roster moves can’t be explained. Check it out below.
15 15. Kyle Korver - 2015
No one will argue that Kyle Korver is a bad basketball player. He’s just about perfect in his role as a knockdown three point shooter, and has done so with admirable longevity. The thing with Korver though, is that while he may excel in his role, he has no business being in an all-star game. His entire game is based around someone else getting him the ball. Consistently having assist percentages above the 95% mark for threes, in the 2008-2009 season, he was actually assisted on EVERY SINGLE THREE HE MADE. He’s never averaged more than 14 points a game, which isn’t great considering it’s the only stat that’s going to show up on his part of the box score. He’s a fantastic role-player, but everyone was sucked in by the success of the 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks, and so he got to join the squad.
14 14. Andrew Bynum - 2012
Andrew Bynum is tough because he had all the talent in the world to be a perennial all-star. Hell, with even more progression, he could have been a Hall of Famer. But alas, the lack of passion for the game did him in. Despite being banged up for a lot of his six seasons with the Lakers, Bynum was shaping up to be a top center in the league for the next decade when he wasn’t able to suit up for the entirety of the 2012-13 NBA season. The season before, he was a key cog on the Lakers’ second championship in a row, and averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds on 56% shooting with a decent 70% at the line. Knee problems knocked him out at first, but a lack of dedication to rehab and an affinity for ridiculous hair turned Bynum into a joke. In a different universe, Bynum is in his prime, dominating in the same conversation as Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns.
13 13. Tyrone Hill - 1995
Tyrone Hill spent a long time in the NBA, and was a serviceable center for a good portion of his career. Serviceable and All-Star caliber are much different things. In 1995 as a Cleveland Cavalier, Hill had his best year and averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds, making the Game. How does this compare to the centers that he joined in the game though? Shaquille O’Neal was averaging 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks, Hakeem Olajuwon was averaging 28, 11, and 3, Dikembe Mutombo was putting up 11, 12 and 4 blocks in his first of four Defensive Player of the Year campaigns, and David Robinson was the league’s MVP. Tyrone had a good year, but couldn’t stand in the shadow of these guys that he shared the court with.
12 12. Jayson Williams - 1998
Jayson Williams might have been deserving of his place in the 1998 All-Star game. He’d averaged 13 points and 13 rebounds a couple of years in a row for the New Jersey Nets, which is great. The thing is, outside of those two years he had an entirely unsubstantial career. Williams didn’t average more than 5 points a game his first five years in the league. Going beyond that, he only started 158 games in his entire career! That’s less than two full seasons as starter. He wasn’t even a long-time role player, as he appeared in less than 500 games total. He played in 70 games just three out of his nine years, 65 in his all-star year. Outside of a couple of solid, short years, he was pretty a pretty brutal player.
11 11. Kermit Washington - 1980
Kermit Washington is unquestionably best known for destroying Rudy Tomjanovich’s face (barely hyperbolic) with a devastating punch during a brawl between Washington’s Lakers and the Houston Rockets in 1978. After Washington threw hands with a couple of Rockets, Tomjanovich approached him from the back attempting to be a peacemaker, and an off-guard Washington threw an absolutely devastating punch that broke Rudy’s skull. The punch completely changed the trajectory of both players’ careers. Tomjanovich was a perennial All-Star who missed the rest of the season and retired a few years later. Washington became a much different player on the court, less aggressive and such. After floating around and getting run out of a few places, Kermit somehow managed to find his way into the 1980 All-Star game as a Portland Trail Blazer. It was a season where he averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds. Two years later he was out of the league, barely cracking 500 games played.
10 10. Dana Barros - 1995
If there was an NBA equivalent for stat-boosting steroids, Dana Barros was on them in 1995. This was a before Space Jam came out, so Michael’s Secret Stuff wasn’t even an option. The Celtics point guard came from nowhere to reach the peak of his career, and came right back down afterwards. This is a five year split for points per game, with the third year being his All-Star appearance: 7.8, 13.3, 20.6, 13, 12.5. Here’s his corresponding Assist numbers: 2.2, 5.2, 7.5, 3.8, 3.4. What happened in 1995, Dana? His minutes were way up that year, which is probably part of the answer, but what did he do to get to that point where he was playing 41 minutes a game. Dana had a great 1995, everything else was so-so. Why though? You can’t explain that.
9 9. Antonio Davis - 2001
Davis was integral to boosting the status of the Raptors in the late 1990s, but not an all-star caliber player he was not. After being a great pillar for those 90s teams, David managed his way into the 2001 All-Star game averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds. And it wasn’t even his best year. By all accounts he was a great guy, and he was the NBPA president for a bit. He was a great teammate and a rock in the post, but no one is remembering him as an All-Star. Davis benefitted from being a likable, relatively well-known name in a particularly weak year for bigs in the All-Star game. He actually replaced Theo Ratliff on the roster. Yeah, Theo Ratliff was the first choice that year.
8 8. (Tie) Jameer Nelson & Devin Harris - 2009
Here’s a list of the guards who were selected to the 2009 All-Star Game for the West: Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Brandon Roy. 4 Hall of Fame caliber players and Roy, who was robbed of being an all time great by injuries but still had several great seasons in his career. Here’s the East: Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Mo Williams, JAMEER NELSON AND DEVIN FREAKIN’ HARRIS. They’re all quality point guards who carved out good primes, but damn they don’t come close to stacking up with the guards they played along with in 2009. It was a good year to be an above-average point guard in the NBA. Jameer’s Orlando Magic team was one of the best and most fun to watch in the league, and Harris was shining in his first solo role on the New Jersey Nets. They had good years, but we’re not looking back on them as All-Stars like the guys they played with.
7 7. Dale Davis - 2000
Dale Davis’ career high is 11.7 points per game, and in that same year he managed his career high of 10.9 rebounds per game, which was the only time Davis ever averaged a double-double. That was during the 1993-1994 season, and it wasn’t even the one that got David placed on the team. He made it in 2000 by averaging 10 points and 9.9 rebounds in his last year as an Indiana Pacer. The big men that joined him on the East were surefire Hall of Famers and defensive stalwarts Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. These are each player’s Defensive Win Shares (estimated number of wins contributed by that player’s defense) for that year: Mourning - 5.6, Mutombo - 4.3, Davis - 3.3. The advanced stats didn’t help him either. He was not All-Star caliber.
6 6. Steve Johnson - 1988
Steve Johnson was a center who managed to find his way onto an All-Star team in 1988 while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. His opportunity actually came in the wake of another serious injury to the infamous Sam Bowie, the Kentucky center who went between Akeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan in the 1983 draft. Steve Johnson started 33 games all year in 1988. In that time, the center was able to throw together 15 points, 5 rebounds and 0.7 blocks. He barely played 24 minutes a game. As a big man, he averaged 5 rebounds and under a block a game for his career! He was talented as a scorer in the low post but was one dimensional and noted for being an awful defender.
5 5. Jim King - 1968
Jim King averaged 7 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists for his career. In 1968, he was dropping 16 points per game for the San Francisco Warriors and got himself into the All-Star game. That’s pretty good, right? Eh, not really. Even if you throw in the 4 rebounds and 4 assists he averaged that year, he pales in comparison to some of the other guards on the roster that year. Lenny Wilkens was averaging 20 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks and Jerry West 26, 6 and 6. It was actually also Walt Hazzard’s only All-Star appearance, and he was averaging 24 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks that year. It was Jim’s best year by a wide margin, as he only topped 8 points per game in one other season. He averaged 7.7 the following year.
4 4. BJ Armstrong - 1994
BJ Armstrong was a fine point guard on some of the strongest NBA teams ever in the early 90s Chicago Bulls. But in 1994 Michael Jordan was in the middle of his first retirement. Against the perceived odds, a strong Chicago Bulls core was able to find unlikely success, winning 52 games. Point guard BJ Armstrong was third on the team in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game, and tacked on 4 assists, 2 boards and steal a game. He joined his teammates Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant as an All-Star. They’re good numbers for the point guard of a successful team, but All-Star worthy? Hardly. To add fuel to the fire, Armstrong wasn’t just an All-Star, he was voted in as a starter! He had the second most votes in the East, behind SHAQ. Shaq and BJ Armstrong, generational talents. For his career, BJ averaged 10 points and 3 assists
3 3. Jamaal Magloire - 2004
Jamaal Magloire is a name a lot of people might recognize, but it’s certainly not because he was a dynamic or noteworthy player. In 2004, he made the All-Star team as a center for the New Orleans Hornets. He had respectable averages of 14 points and 11 rebounds on the year, but the majority of the rest of his career was spent riding the pine. He was able to average close to a double double in the year before and after his appearance, but he only spent 3 full seasons playing starter minutes. The first two and final six years of his career are entirely forgettable. Including his best years, he ended his career with final averages of 7 points and 6 rebounds per game.
2 2. Don Sunderlage - 1954
The super early all-star games always have to be looked at with a different lense. The stats don’t really tell the same story, it was a different era of play, coaches values certain skills more than others, everyone was still pretty racist, there was only 8 teams to choose from, all the jazz. That being said though, looking into the career of Don Sunderlage is pretty confounding. He played two seasons in the NBA total, the first being in 1954 for everyone’s favorite team, the Milwaukee Hawks. In his rookie year he was all-star with splits of 11 pts, 3 rebs, 3 ast a game. Pretty paltry, and he did it on 34% shooting, so he wasn’t even efficient. He shot 74% from the line and had a PER of 11.2. It’s safe to say ole’ Don hit the jackpot, having a decent enough season to make an all-star team and. He peaced out after the following year, when he averaged 2.5 points in his sophomore campaign.
1 1. James Donaldson - 1988
James Donaldson was a wall of a man who didn’t do much beyond the typical defensive center role. In 1988, as a member of a great Dallas Mavericks team, Donaldson managed to make the All-Star team while averaging 7 points and 9 rebounds a game. How is that even possible? This isn’t even an instance of him overperforming or something. You could make the case that Donaldson had SEVEN better seasons than the one that got him his all-star nod. And those weren’t a ton better. His best year was probably the year before his appearance, when he averaged 11 points and 12 rebounds with almost two blocks a game. Yup, 1988 was actually a pretty noticeable drop-off for Donaldson, and he made the All-Star game despite it. He is the worst All-Star of all time.
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