Just a quick disclaimer to kick off this list before readers get their their undergarments in bunches. It is easy to rapid fire off a list of a bunch of bench bums who hardly see any action on the court. How interesting would it be to read an article filled with names like Josh McRoberts, Bruno Caboclo, Damian Jones, Cole Aldrich and Andrew Bogut - you see, only five names in and already you're bored. Every team in the league is full of guys who have countless stamps on their passports from various overseas leagues or jerseys in their closets from stops in minor leagues. While these guys are vital to teams in the locker room, at practice and during the occasional "DNP-CD Rest" game, the reality is many of these guys are nothing more than glorified towel wavers when it comes down to the meaningful games.
With that being said, we have put at twist on our look at the 20 worst players currently in the NBA. The following list is made up of players who are worse than they should be, based on their production numbers, previous seasons, accolades and most importantly contracts. The gentlemen on this list vary from former All-Stars, could have been All-Stars or should have been All-Stars at some point in their basketball careers (pro, college or high school). How is it possible for the once mighty to fall so far? So without further ado, we present to you a list that will have you talking around the water cooler about twenty of the worst players (who have been and should be better) in the league this season.
20 Nick Young - Golden State Warriors
The NBA's Prophet of Swag is no longer as Swaggy as he once was. Now to be fair to Young his stats were bound to take a hit when he decided to join the stacked Dubs backcourt squad that features Curry, Durant and Thompson. However, when you consider that Young currently has the worst stat line of his eleven year career, which includes the least amount of playing time, points, rebounds and assists, Uncle P is just but a irrelevant member of the Warriors bench.
Except for Quinn Cook, who rings up an average of 10.3 ticks of floor action, Young receives the least amount of playing time in the guard rotation with only 14 minutes a night. While long known as a one trick pony, the fact that all Young can do is score is pretty much lost on a team that averaged more buckets last season when Ian Clark filled the role.
19 Jonas Valanciunas - Toronto Raptors
Throughout his first four years, you could see some promise and potential from the Lithuanian big man, but by the time fans actually get to see that promise on display for 82 games, Bruno Caboclo might actually be ready to play. Hey, at 25 years old, there is still opportunity for Valanciunas to become something, but in today's NBA game, what that something is - is unknown.
Offensively he doesn't move that far past a mid-range J and nobody would confuse his passing game with that of Pau Gasol or Nikola Jokic. Defensively well, for a seven footer, eight rebounds and less than a block per game are unacceptable numbers. There is a reason why defensive minded Coach Casey runs with Serge Ibaka or even second year Jakob Poeltl in the fourth quarter over JV. Don't be surprised to see rumors heat up in the next few weeks about the Raptors moving their starting big man.
18 Dion Waiters - Miami Heat
In his own mind he is one of the best players in the league. If you listen to him talk and watch his swagger, Waiters gives off the impression that he should be in the same chat circles as the NBA elite. The thing about Waiters is that he isn't even the best player on his own team. Although somehow the Miami Heat are only half a game back of the fourth place Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference standings, a team which some figure to contend for the EC Championship, the ragtag Heat roster is surprising many NBA followers.
The problem with Waiters is that for every great game he produces, he disappears for many in between. With low shooting percentages, questionable defense, a shoot first, second and third mindset rather than a willingness to share the ball - Waiters belief that he belongs among the league's best is actually more of a detriment than a positive.
17 Derrick Rose - Cleveland Cavaliers
Man, how the once mighty have fallen. Now don't get it twisted, in the seven games that Rose was actually in uniform for the Eastern Conference favorites he produced some decent numbers, considering how much LBJ dominates the ball. But sadly for the former MVP, three time All-Star and Rookie of the Year, it's not so much his physical talents that put him on this list, but more so what is going on within his mind and body.
Prior to this season, Rose had missed 257 games during his eight years in the league. Among the major injuries have been multiple ACL tears, meniscus tears and back soreness. Let's remember that Rose is only 29 years old and for a body to break down that much at that age is tough to deal with mentally. As for this season, Rose has appeared in only seven of the Cavs 41 games. At this stage in his career, it is entirely possible that Rose will be the only MVP in league history to not make his way into the Hall Of Fame and for that reason he finds a spot on this list.
16 Kenneth Faried - Denver Nuggets
It's confusing to see how Faried has fallen so far out of favor in the Mile High City. In just his seventh season, the power forward has gone from a player with double double potential, not to mention a spot on the All-Rookie First Team and a World Cup Gold medalist to one who struggles to get significant minutes on a nightly basis.
Since the beginning of December, Faried saw action in only eight of the Nuggets nineteen games, a far cry from his second to fifth years in which he was a part of the starting rotation and averaging 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and a well deserved "Manimal" nickname. It's obvious that a change of uniform is needed for Faried, possibly to a team such as the Cavs, Raptors or Spurs - all veteran teams that could use the energy off the bench and a player that doesn't need a play called for him.
15 Meyers Leonard - Portland Trailblazers
While he fired up over 200 3s each year, he connected on only 37 and 34 percent respectively. This season he has hit over 50% but he has launched only 13 bombs so it's hard to judge where this is going.
As for the action down low, considering his height and weight, one would figure that a player of his build would pull down more than three or four rebounds and average at least a swat a game. Nope. Maybe this is why fans and coaches are happier to see players like Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh (who appears on this list) and rookie Zach Collins on the floor despite their own limitations rather than the 2012 11th overall pick. There's still time for improvement, however it remains to be seen if it'll happen.
14 Timofey Mozgov - Brooklyn Nets
Do you remember last season when the LA Lakers tried to sell fans on the fact that they had just signed a former NBA Champion? Unfortunately, that player was Mozgov and while he was in fact a NBA Champion, his contribution to the Cavaliers title run was less than spectacular with 15 points in 13 games, averaging five minutes of floor time a night.
Of course in this day and age of the NBA, that equates to a hefty contract of nearly $64 million for four years. Luckily for Lakers fans they managed to sucker the Nets into taking the remaining three years of that tab. While Brooklyn managed to add D'Angelo Russell, a nice building block, they parted with former franchise center Brook Lopez and surprise rookie stud Kyle Kuzma. Oh did we mention that Moz has been good for 4 PPG and 4 RPG in 25 games this season. Oh and did we mention that he hasn't seen the floor since Christmas. Yikes!
13 Joakim Noah - NY Knicks
Joakim Noah was once a valuable commodity in NBA circles, but now he is spoken in the same breath alongside names such as Omar Asik and Timofey Mozgov. Heck chances are those two could be considered as All-Stars compared to Noah. After falling into a string of bad health during his final years in Chicago, somehow Noah managed to sign a multi-year, mega-million contract with the Knicks.
After coming off of a 20 game suspension to start the season, Noah has been collecting DNP's like Russell Westbrook collects triple doubles. Now nothing wrong with a former starter being demoted to the bench, but Noah is so far down the bench he may as well be sitting with James Dolan. Keep in mind the former All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA forward is cashing in a nearly $18 million cheque this season, $18.5 million next year and a shade over $19 in his final year in the Big Apple. Did we mention that in his one and a half years in New York his stat line reads; 5 PPG, 8 RPG and 2 APG with the majority weighing heavily on what he produced last season.
12 Jahlil Okafor - Brooklyn Nets
People (including Okafor) could use the excuse that the process hindered Okafor's progression in the NBA, but that was in Philly, what's his excuse in Brooklyn? After being acquired at the beginning of December, the former Dukie has seen action in only four games (of seventeen at the time of this writing), tallying 57 minutes, 26 points, 12 boards, 0 assists and 2 blocks.
Considering he's 6'11", you would like to think that he could get more than a dozen rebounds and a pair of swats. Maybe Philly had a good reason for not playing the third overall pick from the 2015 draft. Maybe he just isn't NBA material. Considering that he isn't very athletic or agile on the defensive end and he doesn't have an outside game that relates to the new pace and space pro game, what value does he possess? Like Javale McGee has limited game, but at least he can run the floor, finish the pick and roll lobs and is a presence to alter shots in the paint.
11 Nicolas Batum - Charlotte Hornets
You name it and Batum was capable of contributing to the stat sheet across the board at a high level. Never a Superstar level player and not quite a great level player, but still a level of play that made him valuable to his team and a threat to opponents on a nightly basis. In the summer of 2016, the Hornets felt compelled to extend a five year $120 million contract that would pay the combo guard/forward over $20 million a season.
In return they have received a player who appears to be playing at a "meh" level. While the Frenchman did return his best statistical season of his career last year, his numbers have dropped off dramatically this year, averaging five less points, two less rebounds, one less assist and shooting percentages that mirror a player of a much lower talent level than what Batum has proven capable of.
10 Stanley Johnson - Detroit Pistons
Following a decent rookie season in which he posted averages of eight points, four rebounds and almost one steal in 73 appearances, Johnson took a huge dive in his sophomore year, seeing his numbers basically cut in half. While credit has to be given that he has bounced back this season with numbers similar to that of his first year, Johnson has found his way to the trade talk circles, not something that you would expect from a player with such high expectations.
Oh, did we mention that Johnson's shooting percentages are 34% from the field, including 29% from downtown. Yes you can be a defensive stopper, but at some point you need to help your team at the other end of the court. At only 21 years of age, there is still time for Johnson to turn his career around, but if he continues along this path, the only place you will find stat lines on the Pistons small forward will be on some Euro League website.
9 Chandler Parsons - Memphis Grizzlies
Did you know that this year Parsons is raking in $23 million to average half the stat line that he did four years ago? For more money than ten Devin Bookers, the Memphis Grizzlies receive less than nine points, three rebounds and two helpers a game. Notice the key word. LESS. Actually, if you combine both this season and last season, the Grizzlies still haven't received the same output as the Rockets or the Mavericks did when Parsons was on their payroll. Now sure Parsons has been plagued by injury for a good chunk of his last few seasons, but if you were to line up players from the 2011 draft in order of their financial earnings, would it surprise you to know that the Grizz forward has made more than Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard, all three of which are multi time All-Stars, MVPs and NBA Champions.
8 Kyle Singler - OKC Thunder
After a decent first three seasons in Detroit where he contributed considerable stats, Singler has seen his production plummet since joining the Thunder three years ago. Following four years at Duke, one overseas and a handful of NBA seasons, the now 29 year old is fortunate just to be collecting a paycheque.
At a time in which most players hit their peak, Singler is the exact opposite. You know how when someone leaves a position of hierarchy in a job that one would try their hardest to claim it by improving their performance. Yeah, umm, when Kevin Durant bounced to the Warriors in 2016, the door opened for Singler. The thing is, 18% from downtown and less than three points a game isn't going to get your any ringing endorsements from the coaching staff. Instead that performance resulted in even less minutes this season.
7 Mario Hezonja - Orlando Magic
It had to be a sign when the Magic were willing to sign Jonathon Simmons to a long term deal when they had originally planned on Hezonja being their small forward of the future. Heck, they would rather move Aaron Gordon back to the three spot rather than play the third year forward.
The Magic were duped into thinking that they were signing a sure shot, athletic stud when they stepped to the podium in June. If 33% from downtown is considered a three ball threat, the Magic need to retool their scouting staff and if athleticism equates to just a couple of rebounds a game, yikes. Put it this way, Elfrid Payton, the Magic's point guard who struggles with shooting from pretty much anywhere outside of a layup shoots a better percentage and averages more rebounds. Double yikes. Oh did we mention that the Magic could have drafted Devin Booker? Triple yikes!
6 Noah Vonleh - Portland Trailblazers
Apparently the Hornets liked their young forward so much that they packaged him up after his rookie season and shipped him off to Portland (ironically enough for Nic Batum). Sadly, other than a bump in his rebounding numbers, nothing has screamed improvement about the now fourth year pro. At some point someone has to tell these GM's that said player has reached his ceiling, even if it is after his rookie year.
As with Leonard, Vonleh has lost playing time to journeyman Ed Davis and rookie Zach Collins. Vonleh is a free agent after this season and honestly it would be tough to find a team that would be willing to throw a lump of cash at a one trick pony. Offensively, Vonleh can't produce anything resembling a jump shot and on the other end of the court nobody would ever confuse him with a lock down defender. So much for expectations.
5 Nik Stauskas - Brooklyn Nets
Unfortunately for Stauskas, he has yet to approach that same level of play in his four years as a pro. As a rook in Sacramento, Stauskas hardly saw the floor, but got a chance at redemption when he was traded to Philadelphia. With the increased playing time, the Canadian gunner bumped his scoring average (though his other stats remained irrelevant) to the point in which he proved he deserved to be on the floor with the second unit.
Already onto his third team by the age of 24, the future for Stauskas in the NBA looks bleak, especially since he is losing on playing time to guys like Joe Harris and former Wolverine teammate Caris LeVert. If Stauskas can find his stroke again, he can easily find a home in the pace and space NBA game, but for a shooter that can't shoot, the options will be extremely limited.
4 Luol Deng - LA Lakers
For the first twelve years of his career, the former Duke forward posted double digits in scoring and played nothing less than 27 minutes a night. Then came the four year, $72 million contract with the Lakers that had everyone (probably even Deng) scratching their heads.
Why would the Lakers be willing to spend over $18 million a year on a player who was a dozen years into his career and nowhere close to a max level player? Since the last half of the '16-'17 season, the Lakers have openly admitted that they would rather pay and sit a healthy Deng than play him. However, even when they did give the vet minutes last season he didn't really live up to expectations, posting single digit scoring numbers and shooting less than 40% from the field, including only 30% from deep.
3 Bismack Biyombo - Orlando Magic
In the world of sports, you never want to wish ill will on a teammate, but boy if someone goes down, you know you have to be ready, willing and able to jump at the chance to step into their spot and that's what Bismack did when Raptors starting big Jonas Valanciuas got hit with various injuries at the end of the season. But before we even get to Toronto, do you know that the Sacramento Kings drafted Biz with the 7th pick in the summer of 2011 ahead of folks like Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler. And that folks is a prime example as to why the Kings haven't been in the playoff since 06'.
But back to Biyombo for a minute (which is longer than he deserves to be talked about), yes he was in the right time at the right place, but since signing with the Magic, the big man is nothing more than an extremely overpaid bench player with averages of six points and 6.5 rebounds during his time in Orlando. Sigh.
2 Cody Zeller - Charlotte Hornets
First he lost minutes to rookie Frank Kaminsky, who proved to be a bigger offensive threat due to his ability to extend his shooting range out to the three point line. Now this year, minutes are lost to the trials and tribulations of Dwight Howard who despite all his issues is a better low post threat, a better rebounder and a better shot blocker.
Although Zeller did have his best statistical season last year, the Hornets didn't really seem to miss a beat when they replaced the Indiana Hoosier with the Wisconsin Badger. Now it's not completely all Zeller or Batum's fault that the once promising Hornets are again headed for yet another 82 game only season, but they certainly haven't helped matters. If Zeller is limited in range, limited in rebounding ability, limited in defensive talent, then what exactly is he doing on the floor that is useful other than taking up space?
1 Emmanuel Mudiay - Denver Nuggets
He may only be in his third year, but time is running out on the young Nugget point guard to make an impact on his team or any other team in the NBA if he wants to stay in the league. Sure he is only in his third year and considering he is only 21 years old, there is plenty of time for the seventh overall pick from the 2014 draft to turn his future around.
The problem is the Nuggets have already turned the keys over to Jamal Murray, a second year pro. The year before, Mudiay lost time to veteran guard Jameer Nelson. So what's the issue? Inconsistency for one. Inability to stay healthy is a second. Lack of pass first mentality for another. Highly prone to turnovers for a third. We shant continue as the list is lengthy. Yes running the show as a young player is probably the toughest position to step into, but Mudiay knew what he was stepping into when he decided to head over to China straight out of high school rather than going to play for legendary NBA coach Larry Brown at SMU. Again, another bad decision.