2014 was the year of the busts. Every year there are players that are up and coming who never reach their full potential and there are players that were once way above average that have turned into subpar role players. The one thing certain about the NBA is that Father Time always wins and gravity is stronger than even the most explosive athlete. There will come a day when Blake Griffin and LeBron James can no longer jump over people. There will come a day when Russell Westbrook no longer looks like a track and field sprinter running down the court. And there will come a day when Carmelo Anthony can no longer control his baby fat.
Dwyane Wade is already on the decline of his career and can barely play 50 games a season, despite being only 32-years-old. After Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles, the Lakers rewarded him by making him the most expensive player in the league, which would have been fine if he was still old Kobe. But old Kobe now just looks old, which was evidenced by a major knee injury that essentially took him out for back-to-back seasons. Steve Nash is 40-years-old and has to lie down on his stomach whenever he sits out because his back stiffens up whenever he sits down on the bench for too long.
These are some of the players were once relevant, but drifted off into irrelevancy last year. Some are young enough to resurrect their careers, but most of them demonstrated that this is a sign of things to come.
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20 Thabo Sefalosha
Thabo Sefalosha was supposed to be Oklahoma City’s Thunder best perimeter defender, but he disappeared in the playoffs last year. In fact, he logged zero minutes in 3 out of the 5 games against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals and a total of 18 minutes in the two games that he did play. It is no coincidence that the Thunder immediately replaced him with Anthony Morrow this summer, who is underrated defensively and can shoot the three-point ball much better than Thabo.
19 Raymond Felton
Despite averaging 31 minutes per game, Raymond Felton was easily the worst starting point guard in the NBA last year. Felton had every chance to redeem himself, but was unable to capitalize on all the playing time he was given. He shot an abysmal 31.8% from the three-point line and was way too overweight to keep up with opposing point guards. No wonder the Knicks had to result to hero ball with Melo every possession.
18 Omer Asik
The Omer Asik and Dwight Howard combination was a disaster last year. It was clear that the two could not form a twin tower combo since neither of them can shoot the ball and they are both poor free throw shooters. Asik sulked all season long last year after being removed from the starting line-up and being Dwight’s back-up. If he was able to transform his game just a little bit, the duo could have worked together, but Asik was unable to compliment Dwight who is a far better player.
17 Gary Neal
Gary Neal got a decent contract last season after his punch off the bench with the San Antonio Spurs. But the pastures in San Antonio were much different than the cold plains of Milwaukee. Neal had problems with his teammates and wanted to be around a veteran squad, so the Bucks shipped him off to Charlotte, where he was able to salvage some of his season.
16 Paul Pierce
The Truth wasn’t the biggest bust of last season, but he is certainly on his last legs. Pierce is now on his 3rd team in 3 years and it was obvious that he wanted out of Brooklyn. His 13 points per game were the lowest of his NBA career, which was 3 points lower than his rookie year where he averaged 16 points per game. It is clear that Pierce was not the same player that he was in Boston, but perhaps the change of scenery to Washington DC may help.
15 Enes Kanter
Kanter was drafted on potential. However, he lost his starting gig at during last season because of his inability to play with Derrick Favors, who is clearly the better player. Kanter has a soft touch around the rim, but his inability to block shots and utilize his strength has made him a bad version of Glen Davis.
14 Jeff Green
With the departures of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and an injured Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics were Jeff Green’s team. Yet, the veteran was unable to transform himself into even a stat stuffer. Green averaged less than 17 points per game and was unable to average even 2 assists per game. Green still does not know whether he is a small forward or a power forward, and at this point of his career, he is basically a jack-of-all-trades, but expert-at-none type of player.
13 Mario Chalmers
Chalmers won’t be yelled at by LeBron James any longer now that he is gone and it could do wonders for his confidence. Chalmers did get re-signed by the Miami Heat, but he was a non-factor in the playoffs last year. In fact, he was the one getting most of the blame since the Heat were getting no production from the point guard position. Chalmers can still hit the 3 and is a decent defender, but his championship grit seems to be a thing of the past.
12 George Hill
George Hill was traded by the San Antonio Spurs to the Indiana Pacers for Kawhi Leonard (Finals MVP) and Davis Bertrans. You might not know who Bertrans is, but he is one of the best young talents in Europe today. If that is what you gave up for George Hill, you would expect him to be an All Star point guard. But Hill’s inability to penetrate the paint, have Pacers fans and Larry Bird extremely worried
11 Kevin Garnett
Garnett never really wanted to leave Boston and it showed, but he tried his best to turn it around in Brooklyn. However, Garnett posted the lowest numbers of his career last season. He averaged 6.5 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game last season. I never thought that KG would continue when playing like this, but apparently he wants to come back one more year. Keep collecting those checks KG.
10 O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo looked like he was eating spoon-fulls of mayo last season. The shooting guard looked like he was a power forward for most of the season, and it was not because he suddenly developed a post-game. Mayo was on a very young and a very bad Bucks team, but failed to bring the veteran leadership that they needed. So much potential, so little realized will always be the mantra of O.J. Mayo.
9 Evan Turner
Turner had inflated stats with the Philadelphia Sixers, but as soon as he was traded to the Indiana Pacers he couldn’t even get off the bench during the playoffs. Turner can put up great numbers, but unless he has the ball in his hands for 10 out of the 24 seconds, he is more of a liability than an addition. However, Turner was picked up by the Boston Celtics this summer and appears to be quite fond of head coach Brad Stevens. If the two get hit it off, Evans can play efficiently along with Rondo.
8 Dwyane Wade
Wade’s numbers are decent from last year. He still put up 19 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 4.7 assists per game. So, why would LeBron leave when he had this type of player on his own team? Look at the amount of games Wade played last season. Wade missed almost 30 games, not because he was injured, but because he needed to rest his knees. Wade is old. He can only play every other game. When he plays, he’s great, albeit a little bit slower. However, Wade is just not dependable anymore.
7 Deron Williams
Deron was once heralded as the best point guard in the league – yes, even over Chris Paul. And then all of a sudden his ankles turned into Grant Hill’s. Williams barely averaged 6 assists per game last year and was in and out of the line-up all of last season. He did manage to play 64 games, but at 30-years of age, Deron should still be in the prime of his career, not way past it. He has one of the worst contracts in the league and is almost untradeable at this point.
6 Steve Nash
The 40-year-old Nash has said that this upcoming season will become the last season of his amazing NBA career. However, let’s not kid ourselves, Nash should have retired a few years ago. Nash played in 15 games last year and was clearly a shell of himself. Yes, he was injured, but unlike Kobe who was also injured most of last season, Nash does not have any miles left on his legs. Nash averaged 6.8 points per game and 5.7 assists per game. Obviously, Nash wants to keep collecting his checks, but it is a sad way to end such an awesome career. We don’t want to remember you like this Steve!
5 Ricky Rubio
Rumor is that Rubio wants the max contract next season, so he is perfectly okay with Kevin Love going to another team. But Rubio is hardly worth anything over $10 million a year. Rubio was a project 3 years ago and he is still a project today. His inability to shoot from anywhere on the floor, let alone the 3-point line, inhibits Rubio from really being a Jason Kidd type of player. No one doubts Rubio’s vision, but his .381% field goal percentage and his .331% 3-point percentage does not garner respect from any defender. If Rubio was a bit more careful with the ball, instead of turning the ball over and shooting ill advised shots, he could turn it around, but it is not looking likely at this point of his career. See you back on the list next year Ricky.
4 Anthony Bennett
When you are the number one pick in the draft on one of the worst teams in the NBA, you’re supposed to get some run in. But Bennett not only sat on the bench for most of the season, but some fans even wanted him sent to the D-League to develop some more. The only reason why he wasn’t sent to the D-League was because of the psychological damage it would have done to him. Bennett looked great in summer league last week and can still turn around his career, but last year, he was just plain awful.
3 Josh Smith
Josh Smith was supposed to be the missing piece for the Detroit Pistons. He was the key for them to make the playoffs again and resurrect the Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace glory days. But Smith was hardly the missing piece. If anything, he was an added strain. Everyone knows that Smith can’t shoot. And when you have two big guys that dominate the paint, you need someone to spread the floor for you. Smith thought he was that guy, but he clearly was not.
2 Larry Sanders
After scoring on a hefty contract last year, the Bucks placed a lot of faith in their wiry big man to become the defensive anchor that an undisciplined team like the Bucks needed. Unfortunately, Sanders’s off the court problems and his immature attitude had him off the floor with suspensions. And when Sanders finally did make it on to the court, his various injuries put him on the bench for good. Sanders is still young and immature, but if he can put it all together, he can easily become the Most Improved Player next year.
1 Roy Hibbert
“What the heck happened to Roy Hibbert?” was the most common question everyone was asking after the All Star Break and into the playoffs. Hibbert self-proclaimed himself as the Defensive Player of the Year during the first two months of the NBA season, but by the halfway mark of the season, there were games where Hibbert could barely score a bucket or grab a rebound. The empty stats wouldn’t make headline news if Hibbert was a scrub, but he was an All Star last year. Hibbert’s downfall was probably one of the more inexplicable things that has happened to a NBA player in the same season.
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