Power Ranking: The NBA’s 10 Most Dreadful Players
The 440-something players who make up the NBA’s current labor force are a carefully selected collection of some of the most athletic, physically gifted specimens the human race has to offer. They combine the wherewithal and vision of a flying predator with a physical ability to float, dart, and do mid-air gymnastics minute after minute. The only thing that appears to stop them is each other (or, in the case of LeBron James, themselves).
Nobody in the league is “bad” at basketball, and when we use words like “terrible” or “atrocious” to describe a player’s performance it’s understood that the adjectives are used on a relative scale to whatever Player A’s colleagues are doing. With that being said, these are the guys who haven’t been fulfilling the duties they’re currently being paid to carry out—some of them may not even deserve a roster spot in the league right now. It’s simply too tough to make an argument for anything positive they’re bringing on the court.
Here are the criteria for my ranking of the league’s 10 worst players right now:
- Must have appeared in at least 20 games.
- Must average at least 15 minutes per game. This removes obvious choices like Hasheem Thabeet or Mike Bibby because it isn’t fair to judge somebody who hasn’t been playing, despite the ironic fact that their limited skill is a primary reason why.
- Rookies are excluded because it’s too early to include them. Sophomores were also a no-go, except for one exception.
- This isn’t about money, contract length, expectations, or reputation. These players are judged on statistics and overall level of play. This was a hard rule to follow and my sub-conscious broke it on several occasions.
- It’s surprisingly difficult to deem an NBA player as terrible, and so I tried ignoring all one trick pony specialists who excel at one thing and aren’t required to do much more. If a three-point shooter isn’t making threes, he’s on this list. If a defensive anchor keeps getting lifted off the ocean floor, he’s on this list. Someone like Joel Anthony wouldn’t be on this list because he fails to average 20 points a game. That isn’t his job.
- Environment is a negligible factor; there’s no inclination that a change in teammates, coaching, or scenery would improve the player’s production or ability to impact a game.
10. Kendrick Perkins. Forget about the $32.5 million headed his way through 2015 (does anyone think Kendrick Perkins will be a factor next season, let alone two years after that?) Kendrick Perkins has been consistently disappointing for Oklahoma City. His rebound rate is the lowest of his career, he’s grabbed 10 or more boards in just five games this year, and compared to other centers his production in that area has trickled below average. Perkins is more known for his defensive strength in positioning below the rim than shot blocking, but this year he’s blocking shots at the second lowest rate of his career. Perkins plays like a stubborn ox in the post, and he’s still very savvy as an inteligent help defender, but since becoming a member of the Thunder his shot blocking rate and blocks per-36 minutes have plummeted. His PER is lowest among all players at his position who qualify for this list, and while it’s unfair to judge a defensive minded player for his failures as an offensive threat, that part of his game has been poor to the point of potential liability in the playoffs. His usage rate, field goal percentage, and points per game are both down from last year.
9. Wesley Johnson. With a true shooting percentage of 42.8%, Wesley Johnson is one of the worst shooters at his position in the league. He’s started as many games as Kevin Love, yet he averages less than six points, three rebounds, and one assist per game; that’s, without exaggeration, a regular five minute stretch for LeBron James. According to 82games.com, Johnson’s per-48 minute PER stands at an abysmal 4.6, while his opponents is a 15.3 on just 1.2 more field goal attempts. So it’s fair to say Minnesota faces a match up disadvantage with at least one position each and every night. Johnson’s statistics across the board are down from his rookie season. He’s down 13.9% from the three-point line while averaging less than one free-throw attempt per-36 minutes. In summation, Wesley Johnson isn’t shooting, playing defense, or improving in either area. The reason why sophomores shouldn’t be on this list is their obvious room for improvement, but Johnson is about to turn 25. Discouraging signs all around.
8. Damien Wilkins. Yes, Damien Wilkins is still in the NBA. How? Nobody’s quite certain. He wasn’t very good six years ago and now that he’s 32-years-old, well, he’s even worse. Wilkins’ minutes have been all over the place this year, but his most freckled egg of a performance came on January 27th against Atlanta. Wilkins took two shots, made none of them, grabbed three rebounds, and recorded three assists…in 34 minutes. On the defensive end he spent the night flailing around in an attempt to guard Joe Johnson. (Johnson ended with a season high 30 points.) Everyone has bad games, but Wilkins’ best this year was marginally better than this stinker.
7. John Salmons. We’ll begin arguing the worthlessness of John Salmons with a basic statistic: This season the Kings are averaging 8.55 more points per possession when John Salmons is NOT on the court. That just about sums it up, but for good measure let’s dig a little deeper. Salmons is currently shooting 27.2% from deep, 36.1% from the field, and 65.4% on just under one attempt per game from the free-throw line. All represent the worst of his career. He lost his starting job to the final pick of last year’s draft. As stated in the opening rule book, money and reputation shouldn’t be considered a factor in judging how bad or good a player is performing. Here, we’re safe; Salmons makes a lot of money and two years ago was one of the more underrated scorers in the league. In Sacramento he has been lost trying to mesh alongside the trigger happy trio of DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, and Marcus Thornton. He’s ninth on the team in field goal attempts per-36 minutes, and it’s looking like it could be the end.
6. Shawne Williams. After performing as the do-everything handyman down the stretch for the Knicks last year (for crying out loud, the man played center!) Williams left New York and signed a two-year, $6.135 million deal with New Jersey in the offseason. On that I’ll say this: Either Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system is the biggest skewer of basic statistics since HGH, or Shawne Williams is a wondrous magician. With the exact same playing time from last year to this one, Williams’ shooting from the field went from 42.6% to 28.6%. On a slightly higher number of attempts from deep, he’s gone from 40.1% to 28.1%. His true shooting is the worst among all players, at all positions, who met the 15 minutes per game in at least 20 games qualification for this list. The only player with a worse PER? Teammate DeShawn Stevenson. Truly impressive stuff.
5. Tyrus Thomas. If there were an award for Least Improved Player, Thomas would have already locked it up. Despite seeing his most minutes since leaving Chicago, Thomas’ numbers have taken a literal nosedive. On a team that has no obvious offensive option, in a situation that should allow him to fill a box score on an absolutely terrible team, his points per-36 minutes are in the single digits for the first time in his career. With no suitable talent behind him on the depth chart, Thomas has managed to sit on the bench anyway.
4. Jared Jeffries. I could go into the numbers here but it’d be like using a stopwatch to prove that Cheetahs are fast. We’ll judge Jeffries with the eye test, and my eyes tell me I’ve never seen a worse player with the ball in his hands play at the NBA level. On defense he’s not exactly Ben Wallace, or Joakim Noah for that matter, so I don’t want to hear the nonsensical argument of his worth on the court being judged by what he does on that end of the floor. The Knicks signed him because 1) they were desperate, and 2) he was cheap.
3. Shelden Williams. If you’ve watched Shelden Williams play basketball, you know why he’s high on this list.
2. Andris Biedrins. If I told you there were a 25-year-old, borderline seven-footer who’s started 26 games, is shooting 65.2% from the floor, and is scheduled to make $27 million through 2014, you’d say he’s one of the brighter talents in the league, right? What if I said all that was true, but that this player has scored 61 total points with just one made free-throw? You’d say a player so polarizing could not possibly exist in world filled with logic and reason. Thus, I present a man who defies all rational thinking: Andris Biedrins. His usage rate is 5.7% which is so low it numbs the mind, and Golden State’s decision not to use their amnesty provision on him has already turned out to be a colossal mistake.
1. Derek Fisher. Let’s break this down real quick. The Pros of having Derek Fisher on your basketball team: He can hit WIDE open three-pointers (an immediate counter to this is FIsher’s shooting an abysmal 25% from the three-point line this season), he’s a veteran presence in the locker room, he’s won five championships and won’t be afraid of the big stage should he eventually get dragged there. The Cons: He can’t create anything off the dribble (and I mean, anything), his defense is atrocious to the point where any and every point guard is circling the Lakers on their calendar like a child would for Christmas, to say he’s a liability on that end would be like saying Johan Petro has a slight aversion to catching a pass from Deron Williams. Referees aren’t buying the head-jerking flops (J.J. Barea has usurped the throne for this move) and he looks like LL Cool J in SWAT chasing his man all over the court. Everyone talks about Pau Gasol like he’s the big problem for the Lakers moving forward. Let’s not forget the player they were trying to replace with that infamous vetoed trade was Fisher, not Gasol. Fisher is the weakest link on any team that has a puncher’s chance of winning the championship. His placement in Los Angeles’ starting lineup remains one of the season’s saddest jokes.