It can't be looked as too much of a bad thing to be labeled one of the worst players playing in the best basketball league in the world, but the fact is there are still some players we watch and wonder how they made it as far as they did. From college phenoms to players who are sneaking from 10-day contract to 10-day contract, teams sometimes sport out once-serviceable players in a form of desperation. Sometimes it is players who have proven almost nothing that are still playing meaningful NBA minutes for their respective franchises.
Even some contenders can be known to hold on to certain players, regardless of how many more dependable options seem to be out there for the taking or maybe even further down their bench rotation. It is baffling to some to see it from far away. Maybe the coaches are too close to it and have become relying on the familiar faces only to experience the same results - results that could be improved.
Rather than just pick all players that the novice basketball fan may never have heard of we have sprinkled in some veterans that became household names to their franchise's fans and even the NBA fan in general. From 20 to 1, it seems that maybe a move elsewhere, down the bench, or to another professional league could suit these players well.
20 Hollis Thompson
The longest member of the Philadelphia 76ers' process, Hollis Thompson saw plenty of NBA action in his first three and a half years with the franchise. In his three full seasons in Philly, the team won a total of 47 games. Thompson averaged 7.9 points in 24.3 minutes per game in Philly, despite the team lacking a true scorer. The opportunity was there to at least prove himself for a future in the NBA. The Sixers would end up waiving Thompson 31 games into the 2016-17 season. The Pelicans would end up giving him a chance. Thompson played 9 games in New Orleans, starting 8, while averaging 3.8 points in 21.2 minutes per game.
19 Nick Young
There is no denying that "Swaggy P" can be one of the streakiest shooters in the NBA. The guy can fill it up and he sports a career-high of 43 points in a game vs the Kings in 2011, but lets be honest, the shots are better off elsewhere. His infamous celebrations while the shots clank off the rim are notorious. If it wasn't for some lowly Lakers teams, where would he be at this point of his NBA career. A move overseas could probably make him a star, but in the NBA he is a frustrating and unwarranted gunslinger of a teammate. In 2016-2017 he started all 60 games he appeared in while averaging 13.2 points on 43 percent shooting. That's better than previous seasons where he shot 33 and 36 percent, but for a team full of youngsters, Nick Young failed to take advantage.
18 Roy Hibbert
Seems like yesterday Roy Hibbert was a centerpiece of the rise of the Indiana Pacers. The team pushed LeBron James and the Miami Heat to the brink in 2012-2013 and also pushed them to 6 games the season before and after. Like Lance Stephenson, it seemed like Roy Hibbert fell off as the team felt it was just hitting a stride. An All-Star in 2013-14, by 2015-16 his average points dropped from 10.6 ppg to 5.9. More recently, Hibbert spent the 2016-17 season split between the Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets. With Charlotte he put up 5.2 points in 16 minutes per night, and with Denver, only 0.7 in 1.8 minutes while appearing in 6 games.
17 Sasha Vujacic
It is still a little surprising he was back in the NBA in 2015 after appearing in just 2 games the four seasons prior, but did Phil Jackson need Sasha Vujacic? I guess. The guy was a nice compliment to those Kobe Bryant-led Lakers teams, but it was safe to say his time in the NBA was up when he moved on from the Lakers during the 2010-2011 season. Vujacic started 29 out of 103 games during his time in New York. He averaged 12.8 minutes per game while posting 4.1 points per game on 35 percent shooting. This past season, he put up his lowest 3-point percentage since his rookie season, shooting 31 percent from beyond.
16 Luke Babbitt
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Luke Babbitt was drafted 16th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The WAC Player of the Year out of Nevada was immediately traded to Portland in exchange for Martell Webster. Babbitt did see a career-high in starts during the 2016-2017 season. As part of an overachieving Miami Heat team, Babbitt appeared in 68 games with 55 starts. During that time he managed to average an astonishingly low 4.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game. Maybe if they replaced Babbitt's minutes with someone who could contribute a little more, the Heat would have gotten over that hump and into the playoffs, in which they pushed so admiringly for at the end of the season.
15 James Young
Another draft miss by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics, James Young left Kentucky after one season. Young played beside Julius Randle and the Harrison twins (who will get a mention on this list), and the group helped lead Kentucky to the NCAA title game before falling to UConn. Young was named to the Second Team All-SEC, and the All-Freshman team. He opened enough eyes to be selected 17th overall. In three seasons in the league, Young has appeared in 89 games with zero starts. He sports career averages of 2.3 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 8.4 minutes and a 36.7 percent shooting percentage.
14 Aaron Harrison
We have been here before with Aaron Harrison. Both twins would enter the NBA Draft after two seasons at Kentucky. Unlike brother Andrew, Aaron would go undrafted despite his willingness to leave college. He was able to sign with the Charlotte Hornets after participating in the summer league. So what are his career stats after fighting his way into the league? 26 appearances, zero starts, 0.7 points per game, 0.7 rebounds per game, 0.5 fouls per game, 0.2 assists per game, and 4.2 minutes per game. All while shooting a career percentage of 21.7 percent on field goals. Aaron Harrison has also just scored 19 career points in the NBA.
13 RJ Hunter
I don't think we will ever forget RJ Hunter and his father, and the run they had while at Georgia State University. Unfortunately, his NBA career will prove to be beyond forgettable. The Boston Celtics scooped him up with the 28th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. A proven scorer in college, Hunter has had a tough time figuring out a way to translate his game to the NBA. He appeared in 36 games his rookie season, and then a total of 3 in his second. The Celtics parted ways after that rookie campaign, and after that, he tried to make a name with the Bulls, but it wasn't to be. The only statistic Hunter was able to accumulate for the Bulls was one rebound. No points, no assists, no fouls.
12 Jordan Hill
It seemed like Jordan Hill was always on the heels of a breakout season. That breakout season never truly came. He did put together a standout season in Los Angeles for the Lakers, when he set career highs in almost every category. It was the first and only time he averaged double digits in points. The problem is those were those Lakers teams that were experiencing perhaps the darkest days is Laker history. Hill was only able to appear in 7 games last season, all with Minnesota. He scored 12 points and brought down 14 rebounds. Not bad for a game, but for a season total it looks like his days could be done in the NBA. Maybe a move overseas would help?
11 Daniel Ochefu
Daniel Ochefu may have set the most iconic ball screen in NCAA history, but the big man has not found a consistant role in the NBA as of yet. The former Villanova Wildcat would go undrafted but later sign with the Washington Wizards. There he saw time in 19 games, playing just 3.9 minutes per game. He has recorded 24 points and 22 rebounds during his rookie season of 2016-2017. It is not like we thought Ochefu was going to become a NBA star, but being that he, Ryan Arcidiacono and other members of the Villanova NCAA Championship team became household names, he was still noticed and put in the spotlight. Unfortunately at this level, he will not be a key component to any championships.
10 Alonzo Gee
I remember Alonzo Gee entering the league with powerful dunks. He went undrafted out of Alabama, and had a tough time finding a spot in the league. Gee bounced around the D-League and 10-day contracts before finally finding a home in Cleveland in the form of a three-year $9.75 million contract. There is no denying his dedication and drive. He saw his biggest chunk of NBA success as a member of the Cavaliers that were deserted by LeBron James. In 2011-2012 he set career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. The next seasons he even started all 82 games for the Cavs, while playing over 30 minutes per night. Last season though, Gee played in just 13 games in Denver, playing 6.8 minutes per game.
9 Ronnie Price
Ronnie Price has put together a pretty lengthy career for an undrafted free agent. After spending his college career at Nicholls State and Utah Valley, Price began his NBA journey with a two-year contract with the Sacramento Kings. He would spend his first two seasons there playing sporadically, appearing in 87 games with 1 career start. He would move on to Utah, where his playing time would increase and would have stops in Phoenix, Portland, and Orlando before ending up with the Lakers in 2014-2015. There he would be able to set highs in most categories for a bad Lakers team. In 2016-2017, Price saw his minutes decrease to his lowest since his start in Sacramento. He would average 1 point in 9.6 minutes.
8 Ryan Kelly
A 6'11" product from Duke, Ryan Kelly was a 2nd-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers. Kelly was a part of the 2010 NCAA Champions at Duke where he played sparingly in just 6.5 minutes per contest. He would stay at Duke three more seasons, improving each and averaging 12.9 points his senior season. I feel like I have said this about of a lot of the players on this list, but Kelly entered the league and was able to find some time on the bad Lakers teams of 2013-14 and two more seasons after. After three seasons in LA in which included starts, D-League stints, and quality playing time, Kelly moved on to the Atlanta Hawks for the 2016-2017 season. There he saw a total of 110 minutes while scoring 25 points.
7 Jared Sullinger
It is hard to remember that when Jared Sullinger declared for the NBA Draft, he was regarded as at least a lottery pick. If he would have entered after his freshman season, the Wizards' decision would have been between he and John Wall. But back injuries and problems have halted a once-promising NBA career. Sullinger appeared sparingly in his rookie season, and put up a decent sophomore season on a bad Boston Celtics team. He even started 73 games on a playoff bound Celtics team in 2015-16. Sullinger signed with the Raptors for the 2016-17 season, where he played in just 11 games while recovering from a foot injury. Sullinger is in the worst shape of his career. Maybe he can bounce back, but then again, he might not.
6 Johnny O'Bryant
The Milwaukee Bucks used a 2014 2nd-round pick on Johnny O'Bryant out of LSU. After his first two seasons in Milwaukee, O'Bryant spent most of 2016-2017 playing in the NBA Developmental League. He did manage to make it out a couple times, signing 10-day contracts with both the Denver Nuggets and later the Charlotte Hornets. During the 2016-17 season, he would play in 11 games, playing 80 minutes, scoring 38 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 block. O'Bryant did manage a NBA D-League All Star game in the past season. Perhaps he can continue to grow on that.
5 Joel Anthony
A longtime veteran that was able to make a name and career for himself in Miami. Joel Anthony went undrafted after finishing his college career at UNLV. He signed with the Heat in 2007, and made 24 appearances that season. He even saw playoff action. He would stick around in Miami, and when the franchise decided to add LeBron James and Chris Bosh, they would also re-up Anthony for five years and $18 million. Anthony would help the Heat to two NBA Championships. By the 2013-14 season, Anthony was seeing just 5.6 minutes per game. And after bouncing around with Boston and Detroit, Anthony spent the 2016-17 season in San Antonio. There, he played 6.4 minutes in 19 games, adding 1.3 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
4 Nick Collison
Very long and successful NBA career. But it looks like it might be time for Nick Collison to hang them up. Collison teamed with Kirk Hinrich at Kansas to lead the team to 2 straight Final Fours. Following a successful college career, he was drafted 12th overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the then Seattle Super Sonics. They would of course become the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that is where Collison has played his entire NBA career. He has almost always played the reserve role, hovering right around 20 minutes per night. In 2016-2017, his minutes per game dropped to a career low 11.8 minutes per night. Also career lows were his points, rebounds, and blocks.
3 Quinn Cook
Quinn Cook actually saw his first NBA action during the 2016-2017 season. After going undrafted in 2015, Cook spent 2015-2016 in the NBA D-League. He would again spend most of his second season in there, but did see his first games of action as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. He would go on to see 5 games in Dallas and 9 games in New Orleans. For the season, Cook posted 5.6 points and 1.9 assists in 13.4 minutes per game.
He has found success in the D-League. Twice, he has been named to the D-League All-Star team, and he has won the All-Star Game MVP, and been named 1st Team All-NBA D-League and 3rd team. He was also named D-League Rookie of the Year.
2 Marshall Plumlee
Marshall is the worst of the Plumlee brothers. It is also possible that his last name carried Marshall into the NBA, as he was a part of the 2015 Duke NCAA Championship team. For that team, he played 9.6 minutes per game. In his senior season, he upped that to 30.5 while starting in every game. He would help that team to the Sweet 16. Following his four-year stay at Duke, he would go undrafted and later sign with the New York Knicks. In his rookie season, Plumlee appeared in 21 games, starting 1. He has scored 40 career NBA points in 170 minutes. He has also added 53 rebounds and 23 personal fouls.
1 Austin Rivers
On one hand he may have the biggest role on our list. On the other hand, it is likely he landed that role because he his playing under his father. It has been reported that Austin Rivers can be thanked for the break up of "Lob City." Chris Paul grew frustrated with Rivers' time on the court over other more reliable options. He also included that Rivers never was treated the same as the other players despite his knack for making boneheaded plays. Rivers had his best year in 2016-2017 due to additional minutes caused by CP3's injuries. It should be interesting to see if he can continue any NBA success after his father leaves the Los Angeles Clippers as they start a new era.
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