Point guard is arguably one of the most critical positions in all of sports. A quality point guard needs to be able to diagnose the game's pacing and the defensive scheme of the opposing team. The pointman should know where each and every one of his teammates are going to be in order to make the best first pass possible. Not only that, but he should have the confidence in himself to call his own number when the time calls and slash the lane.
As you can tell, it is not a position that can be filled easily. Though, over the years, we have seen this position treated as an afterthought.
With players like John Wall, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul we have seen that the point guard position is evolving and becoming more of a focal point within the mainstream knowledge of casual basketball fans.
In order to determine which players were the worst starters at the point guard position there are many factors to consider. You need to look at the player’s intelligence and ability to help the team score, most easily determined by assists and offensive efficiency. You also need to determine what the system they are playing in is asking of them, whether they are expected to be a background player to the stars or a go-to guy when it comes to scoring.
It can be tricky to determine exactly how to define the ‘starter’ position as many teams have used a rotation at the position over the years. In order to be deemed the starter, a player must get the official start in at least 50 percent of the games he is suited up for the team and the significance of the minutes played.
When you search through the annals of NBA history you can actually see that point guards is one of the least volatile positions in the sport. Due to the complexity of the position many players have made careers out of being journeyman at the one-spot while providing solid yet unspectacular play.
Without further ado, here are the worst starting point guards in each NBA teams history.
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30 Atlanta Hawks: Al Masino
Before settling in Atlanta, the Hawks bounced around thanks to their inability to generate interest in any city, which was due to their lack of competence on the court.
Al Masino was one of the worst players in the NBA during the 1952/53 season with the then-Milwaukee Hawks. Masino averaged a partly 5.5 points and 2.2 assists.
Though Masino played major minutes for the Hawks, he would be traded the following season and only see an NBA floor a combined 27 times in two seasons after the Hawks ditched him off.
29 Boston Celtics: J.R. Bremer
The Celtics, thanks to their lack of point guard depth, picked up J.R. Bremer after the St. Bonaventure product went undrafted in the 2002 NBA Draft. Bremer would take hold of the starting position by midseason.
Though the point guard finished respectably that season, making the NBA All-Rookie Second team, he would end up leaving Boston and only started two more games in his short career.
That one season starting for the Celtics saw Bremer average 8.3 points and 2.2 assists with a less-than-good free throw percentage of .766.
28 Brooklyn Nets: Lester Conner
Lester ‘The Molester’ Conner (we swear that was his actual nickname) was always known for his defensive play from the point. However, after Conner put up his second best statistical year with the New Jersey Nets during the 1988/89 season, he regressed the following year.
After feeling like they were secure at the point guard position for years, Conner registered his worst numbers as a starter in the 1989/90 season with a statistical drop in every category from the year before.
‘The Molester’ would be shipped out of New Jersey the next season and would only start 13 games over the next four seasons on his career.
27 Charlotte Hornets: Raymond Felton
This may be surprising to hear considering how bad this franchise has been, but they have had consistent play at the point. Mugsey Bouges was a model of consistency in the 90s and during the Bobcat years the team had a solid platoon of younger players.
Raymond Felton gets the nod here because of his unbridled mediocrity. Though the UNC product was growing through his first three seasons, his continued inability to shoot the longball caused Charlotte to draft D.J. Augustin to relive Felton of some pressures.
Felton saw his touches get diminished until he eventually moved on from the Bobcats, before middling on several lower tier teams.
26 Chicago Bulls: Bryce Drew
Fortunately for Bryce Drew, he will always be remembered for “The Shot” with Valparaiso University rather than his abysmal NBA career. Drew would be Valparasio’s first player to be drafted in the first round, but was a flop in Houston before heading to Chicago.
The Bulls plopped Drew into the starting lineup and in return the point guard was barely serviceable. In the 2000/01 season, Drew started in 41 games and gave them 6.3 points and 3.9 assists.
The Bulls realized that Drew would never blossom into much, so they let the pointman walk and he never started another NBA game again before retiring in 2004.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: Milt Palacio
After spending his first three seasons splitting time between point guard and shooting guard while with the Grizzlies and Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers brought in Milt Palacio to see if he could steer the team in the right direction.
Palacio played in 80 games while starting 46 for the Cavs in the 2002/03 season with the Belizean descendant averaging whopping 5.0 points and 3.2 assists per game. Those numbers were not for a lack of minutes either, with his numbers jumping to 7.2 points and 4.7 assists over a 36-minute game.
After the one season in Cleveland, Palacio spent two in Toronto and one in Utah before calling it quits at 27 years old.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Fat Lever
The Dallas Mavericks sent their No.9 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, plus what would become the No.19 selection in the 1991 Draft, to the Denver Nuggets for Fat Lever. The aging shooting guard would only play a combined 35 games in his first three seasons with the team due to knee injuries.
Once Lever returned the Mavs, they thought it would be best to move the 33-year old Lever back to the point guard spot, which he had not played regularly since the 1986/87 season. The results were not good.
Over 24 minutes per game, Lever scrapped together 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game before retiring after just one completed season in Dallas.
23 Denver Nuggets: Junior Harrington
Junior Harrington had all the size a team could want in a project, with the Wingate University alum measuring 6’4 tall and weighing nearly 200 lbs. However, the Denver Nuggets found out rather quickly that Harrington was not a NBA player.
Harrington started 51 games for the Nuggets in the 2002/03 season with the lanky guard averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 assists over 24 minutes a game.
The following season Harrington played in Europe, and then he came back to the NBA the season after that, then he went back to Europe again and finally he signed a few 10-day contracts with the Grizzlies in 2007.
22 Detroit Pistons: Donnie Butcher
By the time Donnie Butcher made his way to the Motor City, he had already proven to be quite mediocre on his best day. In Butcher’s first two and a half seasons with the New York Knicks, he averaged 5.2 points and 1.8 assists while rarely seeing starting reps.
Butcher was given a jump in minutes when he joined the Pistons and though he did increase his production, it was only minimally. Despite averaging over 20 minutes per game during his two season tenure with the Pistons, he only tallied 7.0 points and three personal fouls per game.
Butcher is more likely remembered for a pedestrian time coaching Detroit, when he led the team to a 52-60 record over parts of three seasons.
21 Golden State Warriors: Mike Gale
Mike Gale has a respectable career in the ABA and the NBA, but by the time he made it to Golden State, he was 31 and on a sharp decline. Gale should not have been relied on to carry the team, but the Warriors hoped the normally consistent veteran could help.
Gales ended up starting 70 games in the 1981/82 season and despite playing nearly 24 minutes per game, he only averaged 5.6 points and 3.5 assists. Despite his shortcoming, the Philadelphia-native would be part of a Warriors team that did put up 45 regular season wins, which Golden State would not match again until 1991/92.
20 Houston Rockets: Phil Ford
At one point in his career, Phil Ford looked like he was going to be an all-time great. The UNC alum won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award with the Kansas City Kings, but his numbers plummeted after his third season as he came crashing into reality.
By the time Ford made it to the Rockets, he was three years removed from his top statistical season and was joining his fourth team in two seasons. Houston believed enough in Ford to let him lead the team during the 1983/84 season and he supplied 7.1 points and 5.1 assists per game.
The next season Ford was relegated to third-string point guard and saw little court time. He would retire following that season.
19 Indiana Pacers: Jamaal Tinsley
Jamaal Tinsley was not the worst in a traditional sense, but the entire situation surrounding him and the Pacers angers the team’s fanbase to this day.
After several quality, though injury riddled, seasons with the Pacers, the front office basically decided to banish Tinsely from the team. Ahead of the 2008/09 season, the organization told Tinsley that he was not allowed to attend team practices or events and he was all but erased from the team.
Though the Pacers said they would trade Tinsely, he filed a grievance with the NBAPA as the trade deadline was coming up and would eventually be waived.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: Marko Jaric
When Marko Jaric entered the NBA, he came with huge expectations. He came from the same backcourt that produced Manu Ginobli and many thought they were comparable talents.
Jaric was long and solid defensively, but his complete inability to shoot resulted in the Argentine averaging just 78.6 points per game in his three seasons in Los Angeles, where he started a large chunk of the game he played.
After three seasons with the Clippers, a few teams tried out Jaric at shooting guard, but his poor shooting saw him out of the NBA by the time he turned 31.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Smush Parker
Smush Parker put up some of the best numbers on this list, averaging over 11 points in each of his two seasons as a starter for the Lakers. However, Parker is the epitome of an entitled player.
The Fordham university alum did nothing but clash with coaches and his teammates while openly admitting to looking off Kobe Bryant. Saying that you were doing anything bad to Kobe is akin to a sin that would banish you to Dante’s deepest circle of hell in Lakers Nation.
Years after the fact, Parker has continued to bash Kobe in what seemed like lame attempts to remain relevant.
16 Memphis Grizzlies: Damon Stoudamire
Damon Stoudamire is the type of player history will sadly forget, though he was an electric player in his youth. However, by the time Stoudamire made it to the Grizzlies, he was 32 and had been declining for years.
Despite the regressing, the Grizz gave the aging vet 27 starts in 2005/06 season before giving him 51 more the next season. In 107 starts with Memphis, ‘Mighty Mouse’ averaged 8.4 points and 4.6 assists per game, which is a far cry from what he was with Toronto and Portland.
Stoudamire would be traded to the Kings and spend half a season in Sacramento before hanging it up.
15 Miami Heat: Travis Best
Travis Best proved to be a top backup point guard for the Indiana Pacers, while flashing clutch abilities, leading up to his contract expiration in 2001/02. The Miami Heat, who were starved for help at the point, went in on the Georgia Tech alum.
There was a lot of concern about whether Best could handle the full time starting duties and those fears were proven true when he got the keys to the Heat team. In his only season as Miami's starter, he averaged a paltry 8.4 points per game, along with 3.5 assists per game.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: Lee Mayberry
Lee Mayberry was drafted in the first round of the 1992 NBA Draft after his Arkansas Razorbacks made it to the Final Four in college. The Bucks had little but platoon players at point guard and were expecting Mayberry to develop into a full time starter.
Despite playing in Milwaukee for four seasons, only one year saw Mayberry get the bulk of the starts. The Razorback alum proved he did not really deserve this increase in responsibilities by scoring only 5.8 points with 3.7 assists per game.
Mayberry would head up North to Vancouver before retiring at the age of 28.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Winston Garland
Just how starved were the Timberwolves for any ray of hope at point guard? When they signed Winston Garland, he was three years removed from being an NBA starter and had spent the season before playing basketball in Italy.
Garland’s presence did nothing to spark Minnesota, as they registered just one more win than the season prior.
At 30-years old, Garland managed to stay healthy and averaged 26.5 minutes per game but only scored 6.1 points per appearance.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: Dan Dickau
The New Orleans Pelicans are the newest franchise in the NBA, which limited the options greatly. It also does not help that Chris Paul was the starting point guard on the team for six of their 13 seasons.
Dickau, though only with the team for 67 games, scored 13.2 points per game while notching 5.2 assists. However, it was clear he would never be the long-term solution and he was traded extremely quickly.
The Gonzaga alum was so mediocre that he was traded eight times, despite only playing six seasons in the NBA.
11 New York Knicks: Stephon Marbury
Another case of a player with the ability to be an all-time great, but whose selfish attitude destroyed him. Statistically speaking, ‘Starbury’ is the best player on this list but his constant arguments with the coaching staff were frustrating for fans of the game.
It got so bad that Marbury supposedly got into a physical altercation with Knicks’ coach Isiah Thomas during a flight and blackmailed the coach to play him more.
There is a very real case to be made for saying that Marbury had the worst attitude in NBA history
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Butch Beard
When the Seattle SuperSonics got their hands on Butch Beard, they thought they were set at the point guard position. After longtime starter Lenny Wilkens left for greener pastures, the SuperSonics brought Butch Beard on board in 1972 after he had an All Star season in Cleveland.
Beard’s numbers dropped dramatically though, as he ended up playing in a more rotational situation than in Cleveland, with the Louisville alum averaging nearly 10 less points per game and half the assists.
Beard left after just one season in Seattle and performed more akin to his All Star standards when given more opportunity to shine.
9 Orlando Magic: Tyronn Lue
The Orlando Magic have a pretty stellar record at the point guard position and it's easily the most talent rich position in team history. Tyronn Lue gets the nod predominantly due to his short period in a Magic uniform.
Lue spent one season at the helm of Orlando’s attack and his numbers were solid, but certainly boosted by playing alongside Tracy McGrady. The former Cornhusker spent his 14-year career on seven different teams and the 2003/04 season with the Magic was the rare instance where he was a consistent starter.
Lue would be a part of the deal that brought Steve Francis over to Orlando, but didn't make it through an entire season in Houston before being unloaded again.
8 Philadelphia 76ers: Freddie Boyd
After a tantalizing rookie season where Freddie Boyd played almost 29 minutes a game and averaged 10.5 points, the 76ers felt confident they found their point guard of the furture.
However, over the next two seasons, Boyd’s minutes slowly dropped as his production did as well. Despite his points decreasing, his shooting efficiency increased over those three seasons, but Boyd did not become any more proficient as a passer either.
Philadelphia moved on from Boyd and traded him to the New Orleans Jazz early in the 1975/76 season. The Jazz would switch Boyd between the one and two position but he didn't really excel there either.
7 Phoenix Suns: Kyle Macy
Though solid, Kyle Macy was the definition of average. The lanky point guard spent the bulk of his career in Phoenix and provided a steady presence. In his five season with the Suns, three of which were as the starter, Macy averaged 10.6 points and 4.0 assists.
The biggest difference Macy made in the game though was his free throw shooting which was a phenomenal .873 when he retired.
There is not much bad to say about Macy, but there is not much great to say either.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: Jarrett Jack
In a vacuum, Jarrett Jack is not a bad player, but just average in almost every way. After spending his rookie season on the bench behind Steve Blake and Sebastian Telfair, Jack was given the starting role and the others were shipped out.
The following season (2006/07), Jack missed just three games all season while averaging 12.0 points and 5.3 assists. Despite this, the team decided to bring back Blake and change Jack to a shooting guard, though the point was his natural position. After a season as a SG, Portland shipped him out and his Jack's gone on to become a serviceable PG in the NBA.
5 Sacramento Kings: Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson became the first player in the history of the College of Charleston to be drafted when the Sacramento Kings picked him up in the 1997 Draft. Johnson would be thrown into the starting lineup immediately, getting the top point guard position in his rookie year.
The biggest knock on Johnson that season was his shooting percentage of .371, which was far behind the league average for his position. The Kings ultimately decided to let him walk after his first season. though he would end up back in Sacramento towards the end of his career.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Vinny Del Negro
Vinny Del Negro spent the bulk of the first half of his career at the two-position, but the NC State alum was thrust into the point guard spot for the 1993/94 Spurs. San Antonio let Avery Johnson walk before the season started, which caused a bit of a rotation at the point.
Del Negro got most of the starts at the point, while Willie Anderson took the bulk of the action at the shooting guard spot.
Later in his career, Del Negro would play point guard regularly, but at the time he wasn't prepared and only mustered 4.2 assists per game, which isn't enough for a starting PG.
3 Toronto Raptors: Rafer Alston
I know that some Raptors fans are going to be upset with this not being Jose Calderon, but when you look at the Spaniard’s numbers apart from the rest of the Bryan Colangelo era, he is not that bad.
Alston was a New York streetball legend (go and watch some highlights of ‘Skip to my Lou) that flamed out in the NBA. Alston’s numbers were solid if not above average, but he was not accustomed to the team game and had several explosions.
Alston and Raptors’ head coach Sam Mitchell had a strained relationship at best and the point guard admitted that he was contemplating quitting basketball during his tenure in Toronto.
2 Utah Jazz: Duck Williams
Duck Williams played just one season in the NBA and somehow it managed to be as the starting point guard for the Jazz.
In his lone season as the Jazz’ pointman, he averaged 6.6 points per game and just 2.4 assists. More than anything though, Williams was a boom or bust player as he scored 13 or more points in 7.7 percent of games that season while scoring five or fewer in 33 percent of games.
After that one season, Williams just sort of disappeared.
1 Washington Wizards: Mike James
If you were to look up ‘journeyman’ in the dictionary, there would likely be a photo of Mike James next to it. ‘Pit Bull’ spent 12 NBA seasons between 11 teams and never stayed in one place longer than two seasons.
During the 2008/09 season, James got the bulk of the starts at point guard for the Wizards while averaging 9.6 points and 3.6 assists. James would end up being traded after playing just 57 games in his Wizards career.
The good news for the Wizards? The trainwreck that was their point situation in James’ season led to them drafting John Wall.
Are there worst starting point guards in NBA history? Can you think of a player so abysmal on your favorite team that deserves to be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
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