Since the NBA was created in June of 1946, it has been mostly dominated by big men. The guys who were able to dictate the physicality of the game in the paint by posting big numbers in both rebounds and points. Championship teams were built from the inside out, with a powerful center being the focal point for almost every team. From George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers to the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal, championship teams were blessed by fantastic play from their centers.
Recently, there has been a change of pace in the game of basketball sparking a revolution known as "small ball." Largely in part to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, teams are no longer desperate for a dominant center. Another factor leading to the age of small ball is the longevity of big men. For every Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal, there is a Greg Oden or Andrew Bynum that just cannot seem to stay healthy. On the other hand, guards like Curry, Thompson, Paul or Lillard have no problems at all playing 82 games for their club.
On top of all that, the college game is now breeding NBA - ready point guards, whereas most big men just are not polished enough to make a true impact at the Professional level. Knowing that there have been many big men who failed to live up to their predecessors as well as their own college careers, we went back through every team's history to find the worst starting center ever for each team respectively. Note that these centers are being judged on their performance on this team alone and they must have been the primary starter for the majority of the games for at least one season. Here we go.
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30 Atlanta Hawks, Jon Koncak, 1985-1995
Jon Koncak was a pretty decent NBA player in regards to his longevity in the NBA, however, he was never able to produce starter-worthy numbers on the court. He started 379 of his 784 games in a Hawks uniform, which included three seasons with at least 60 starts. In that time, he averaged 4.6 points per game, 5.0 total rebounds per game all while shooting 59 percent from the field. One knock against Koncak was that he never fit into the offense and only averaged 3.9 shot attempts per outing.
29 Boston Celtics, Andrew Declercq, 1997-1999
The Boston Celtics have one of the most prestigious franchises in the entire NBA which made this decision extremely tough. Andrew Declercq started 50 of the 95 contests he appeared in as a Celtic. He averaged 5.4 points per game while bringing in a total of 4.8 rebounds per game. Declercq shot 60 percent from the free throw line and just under 50 percent from the field while playing for Boston. One of the things that landed Declercq on the list over others was his inability to control the ball. In his time in Boston, he averaged 1.1 turnovers a game.
28 Brooklyn Nets, Jim McIlvaine, 1998-2001
Jim McIlvaine started in 57 of the 106 games he played with the Brooklyn Nets, and tallied 53 starts in the 1999-2000 NBA season. In those two and a half seasons as a Net, he produced abysmal numbers (even for a defensive-minded center). He averaged 2.2 points per game and added 3.0 total rebounds to the cause. Most of his struggles in producing good numbers stemmed from his shooting percentages. McIlvaine shot 55 percent from the free throw line and an extremely poor 41 percent from the field. Needless to say, McIlvaine's career ended following his three-year stint in Brooklyn.
27 Charlotte Hornets, Bismack Biyombo, 2011-2013
The Charlotte Hornets selected Bismack Biyombo with the 7th overall pick in the 2011 NBA drafted, but he struggled to adjust to the NBA in his first few seasons. Biyombo entered the 2012 season as the Hornets starting center and he was able to start 65 of the 82 games that season. He averaged 4.8 points per game and totaled 7.3 rebounds as well. Biyombo was able to produce on the defensive side, but shooting 53 percent from the line and 49 percent from the field makes it near impossible to average anything more than 5 points a game.
26 Chicago Bulls, Ben Wallace, 2006-2008
Big Ben Wallace was at one time one of the most dominant defensive centers in the NBA for the Detroit Pistons. Unfortunately, for the Chicago Bulls, they paid Wallace a shade of 16 million dollars and he never produced those numbers. Although he was able to start all 127 games he appeared in, he totaled only 5.9 points per game. All the while, he shot 41 percent from the free throw line, and 42 percent from the field. These numbers were a significant drop off from his play as a Piston, and thanks to the Chicago Bulls excellent history, Wallace made the list.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers, Chris Mihm, 2000-2003
Chris Mihm played for the Cleveland Cavaliers for four seasons from 2000-2003 and started in 256 of the possible 436 games. During his tenure as a Cav, he averaged 7.1 points per game and added in 5 total rebounds a game. Mihm was a decent free throw shooter but struggled from the field, shooting only 43 percent over his four seasons in Cleveland. As a starter, he averaged only 19.4 minutes per game which extremely low, especially for a center in the NBA. On top of that, during his time in Cleveland, the Cavaliers did not appear in the playoffs one time.
24 Dallas Mavericks, Erick Dampier, 2004-2010
Erick Dampier was another center that had a decent career in the NBA, however, he benefited greatly from the play of Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki. He started 356 of the possible 424 games he played in as a Maverick. In those games, he averaged 6.5 points per game and added in 7.6 total rebounds. He struggled from the free throw line in his career, as he shot 60 percent from the strike. Unfortunately, he turned ball over more than once a game (1.3). In his 36 playoff starts, his average dipped even lower to 4.8 points per game.
23 Denver Nuggets, Dean Garrett, 1997-1998
Dean Garrett made his way to the Denver Nuggets right before the 1997 season and started all 82 games for the Denver that season. Garrett enjoyed shooting the ball as he averaged 7 shot attempts per game. Although he was able to get the ball up, it struggled to fall which resulted in him shooting 42 percent from the field. He was able to average 7.3 points per game and add in 7.1 total rebounds per outing. Unfortunately for Garrett, the Nuggets didn't see enough out of him and traded him following the end of the 1997-1998 season.
22 Detroit Pistons, Rick Mahorn, 1985-1989
Rick Mahorn played for a total of four seasons as a Detroit Piston and started 150 games of 363 possible games. He started 60 plus games in both the 1987 and 1988 seasons. In those two seasons as a starter, he averaged 6.1 points per game while contributing 5.8 total rebounds per contest all while shooting just a tad under 50 percent from the field. Mahorn also added 1.2 turnovers a game, which is miserable for a center in the NBA.
21 Golden State Warriors, Andris Biedrins, 2004-2013
Andris Biedrins is an interesting name on this list as he started 311 of the 510 games he appeared in as a Warrior. However, in those games, he averaged only 6.4 points and 7.1 total rebounds per game. He shot an extremely disappointing 50 percent from the free throw line all while not supplying that much on the defensive end. He was a former first round pick that played nine seasons in Golden State and the Warriors only appeared in the playoffs one time in his tenure....thanks to Stephen Curry.
20 Houston Rockets, Chuck Hayes, 2005-2011
Chuck Hayes is infamous for having one of the worst free throw attempts ever as a Sacramento King, but he lands on this list for being the worst starting center in Houston Rockets history. Hayes has never been known as a defensive center, which showed during his time in Houston. He collected only 0.4 blocks per game and is known as a poor defender. It did not get any better for Hayes on the offensive side of the ball; he started 233 of the 425 games he appeared in and contributed only 4.4 points and 5.7 total rebounds per game. He struggled from the free throw line, shooting only 60 percent from the strike. It only got worse for Hayes during the playoffs as his average dipped to 2.1 points per game.
19 Indiana Pacers, Jeff Foster, 2000-2012
Jeff Foster is one of the longest tenured players in Indiana Pacers history, but his numbers as a starter were a flat-out disappointment. Over eight seasons, Foster started in 339 games at center for the Pacers. In those starts, he averaged 4.9 points, 6.9 total rebounds, and 0.4 blocks per game. Foster also struggled from the free throw line, shooting only 61 percent from the strike. In his 53 playoff appearances as a Pacer, he struggled even more as his average fell to only 3.9 points per game.
18 Los Angeles Clippers, Elmore Spencer, 1992-1995
Elmore Spencer was a contributor to the Los Angeles Clippers for three seasons, as he started 75 games out of the 139 he appeared in. In those games, he shot 58 percent from the free throw line and 52 percent from the field. These numbers led to Spencer only averaging 6.5 points per game. The big knock against Spencer was his ineffectiveness rebounding the basketball. In his starts as a Clipper, he averaged only 3.5 total rebounds per game which is more than disappointing.
17 Los Angeles Lakers, Kwame Brown, 2005-2008
The former first overall pick by the Washington Wizards made his way to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2005, starting 91 of the 136 games he appeared in as a Laker. During his tenure in Los Angeles, he averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 total rebounds per game. He shot a miserable 49 percent from the free throw line and added just under 2 turnovers per game. After two and a half years of struggling to perform, Brown was traded away by the Lakers to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Although Brown was an utter let-down for the Lakers, the possibilities for this spot were very thin as the Lakers have been blessed with talented big men for decades.
16 Memphis Grizzlies, Jake Tsakalidis, 2003-2007
Jake Tsakalidis, of Russia, carved out a decent career as a backup center in the NBA. However, during his stint on the Memphis Grizzlies, he started in 55 games over three seasons. In those 55 starts, he shot 46 percent from the field which led to 3.9 points per game. He was a sub-par rebounder and contributed only 4.7 total rebounds per game. One of the major complaints against Tsakalidis was his lack of aggressiveness on offense. In his three seasons for the Grizzlies, he only averaged 2.8 field goal attempts per game.
15 Miami Heat, Joel Anthony, 2011-2012
Joel Anthony played in South Beach for a total of nine seasons and was fortunate enough to play with some pretty incredible players such as Dwayne Wade and Lebron James. However, in the 2011 NBA season, Anthony was the primary starter at center and started 51 games. He averaged 2.4 points per game and added in 3.1 total rebounds. His role on the team was almost obsolete as he only attempted 0.9 shots per game. During the time of the big three, Anthony started in 13 playoff games and contributed 2.8 points per game.
14 Milwaukee Bucks, Joel Przybilla, 2000-2003
Unfortunately for Joel Przybilla, his name could have appeared on this list for a few different teams, but his play on the Bucks was by far the worst. He started in 93 of the 153 games he appeared in from 2000-2003, but started in 62 games in the 2001 season. During his time as a starter, he contributed 1.8 points and 3.5 total rebounds per game all while only taking 1.5 field goal attempts per contest. Part of his struggles came from his inability to convert from the free throw line, where he only converted at a rate of 58 percent.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves, Felton Spencer, 1990-1994
Felton Spencer played for the Minnesota Timberwolves for four seasons and started in 148 of those games. During his time as a starter, he averaged 6.0 points and 6.6 total rebounds per game. He only shot 47 percent from the field and 67 percent from the line which combined with only taking 4.4 shot attempts per game led to his low scoring output. The former sixth overall pick did not appear in the playoffs during his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
12 New Orleans Pelicans, Omer Asik, 2014-2015
The New Orleans Pelicans have had an extremely short NBA history (14 seasons) and therefore, Omer Asik was really the only option here. The main reason Asik is on this list over guys like Tyson Chandler and Emeka Okafor is his inability to score. Not that the other guys were threats to win the scoring title, but Asik shot 58 percent from the line and 51 percent from the field. These numbers were good enough to allow him to average 7.3 points per game. Asik added in 9.8 total rebounds per contest, but was really known for his defense and rebounding.
11 New York Knicks, Othella Harrington, 2002-2003
The New York Knicks acquired Othella Harrington for the price of a first-round pick. Because they spent so much to receive him, he started 64 of the 82 games in the 2002 season. Unfortunately, his numbers were not first-round pick worthy. He averaged 6.8 points and 4.6 total rebounds a game as well as turning the ball over 1.2 times a game. He started five games in the playoffs for the Knicks where he averaged an even lower 3.6 points per game.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder, Calvin Booth, 2001-2004
Seeing as the Oklahoma City Thunder have only been around for a few years, we went back to the Seattle Supersonics where Calvin Booth started in 50 over the 133 games he appeared in over three seasons. In those starts, Booth averaged only 4.3 points and 3.3 total rebounds per game. He shot 45 percent from the field while only attempting 3.7 shots per game. During his tenure in Seattle, the Supersonics never made the playoffs.
9 Orlando Magic, Greg Kite, 1990-1994
Greg Kite started in 127 of the 247 games he appeared in as a member of the Magic, but started in all 82 games during the 1990 season. During his time as a starter, Kite shot a miserable 52 percent from the free throw line and only 46 percent from the field. These percentages led to Kite averaging only 3.0 points per game while mustering 2.7 field goal attempts per game. One thing that Kite was average at was rebounding, as he brought in 5 total rebounds per game. The Orlando Magic did not make the playoffs during his four year stint in Florida.
8 Philadelphia 76ers, Scott Williams, 1994-1999
As much as Philadelphia 76ers fans may want to see Joel Embiid on this list, he technically has yet to be a starter for the team. Enter Scott Williams, who started in 103 of his 212 games as a Sixer including a career-high 52 starts in the 1996 season. During his time as a starter, he averaged 5.3 points on 4.7 field goal attempts and 5.4 total rebounds per game. In the five years he spent in Philadelphia, the Sixers did not appear in the playoffs at all.
7 Phoenix Suns, Mark West, 1987-1994
Mark West was known as one of the more hard-nosed guys in the NBA when he played for the Phoenix Suns. Although he may have been hard-nosed, he was never able to perform the way a starting center should in the NBA. He started in 349 of the 543 games he appeared in as a Sun and contributed 6.9 points per game on just 4.5 field goal attempts. Although he was a grinder in the paint, he only averaged 6.0 total rebounds and 0.3 blocks per contest. Adding to that, he shot only 60 percent from the free line.
6 Portland Trail Blazers, Chris Dudley, 1993-1997
Chris Dudley started in 162 of the 295 games he appeared in as a Portland Trail Blazer. During his time in Portland, he averaged only 4.2 points and 7.4 total rebounds per game. Dudley was a solid rebounder but struggled immensely putting the ball in the hoop. He shot a horrific 48 percent from the free throw line and an equally as bad 42 percent from the field.
Honorable mention here is Greg Oden. Oden was the first overall pick in the 2007 draft (when he was selected right before Kevin Durant) and started in 66 games over two seasons. He averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but only played two seasons for the Trail Blazers before succumbing to knee injury after knee injury.
5 Sacramento Kings, Duane Causwell, 1990-1997
Duane Causwell was a key component of the Sacramento Kings during the early-to-mid '90s. Although this was true, it did not make him worthy of being a key part of a team at all. He started in 243 games over the years and averaged 5.5 points and 4.7 total rebounds per game. He shot a below-average 62 percent from the free throw line and 50 percent from the field. The former first-round pick would struggle adjusting to the NBA.
4 San Antonio Spurs, Fabricio Oberto, 2005-2009
The San Antonio Spurs have been so good for so long that it was actually tough finding someone to put on this list. As playing with the likes of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker is probably rather simple, however, Fabricio Oberto was the worst of the starting centers. Oberto made 128 starts over four seasons with the Spurs including 64 in 2009. During his time as a starter, he averaged just 3.6 points and 3.9 total rebounds per game. In addition, he shot 60 percent from the line and added just 0.2 blocks per game. Oberto was one of the many players fortunate enough to land on the San Antonio Spurs.
3 Toronto Raptors, Rafael Araujo, 2004-2006
Rafael Araujo started 75 of the 139 games he played as a Toronto Raptor. The former 8th overall pick finds himself on all sorts of infamous basketball lists, but this may be the one that fits him best. In his two years as a starter, Araujo contributed 2.9 points and 2.8 total rebounds per game. He shot a miserable 40 percent from the field and only posted 14 blocks in 139 games. Regardless of where he was drafted or the hype bestowed upon him, Araujo was just flat-out bad, consequently, he lasted only three seasons in the NBA.
2 Utah Jazz, Adam Keefe, 1997-1998
Adam Keefe played in Utah for a total of six seasons. He was actually a perennial bench player with a career average of 5.0 points per game. But, in 1997, an injury forced Keefe into the starting lineup. During that season, he posted 7.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. However, during the playoffs of that season, he started in 10 of the 15 games but was only able to average 2.1 points per game. Keefe was a decent player, but was never talented enough to be an NBA starter, which is what landed him on this list.
1 Washington Wizards, Javale McGee, 2008-2012
The former first-round pick by the Washington Wizards was a turnover and technical machine during his tenure in Washington. He started in 148 of the 225 possible games as a Wizard, averaging 8.5 points and 6.0 total rebounds per game. He was an unfortunate foul-line shooter, where he shot only 59 percent. Although his numbers were not too terrible, his major issues came between his ears. McGee has always been labeled as one of the most immature and troubled players in the NBA and is always a problem in the locker room. The Washington Wizards struggled immensely during his tenure which showed as the team never made the playoffs.
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