10 NBA Busts Who Would Flourish on Better Teams
JaVale McGee may be best remembered as a total space cadet with the Wizards this year, but he's likely well on his way to bigger and better things after Washington opted to trade him to the Denver Nuggets at this season's trade deadline.
Under George Karl's disciplined regime, McGee should blossom into a well-rounded big who also ranks among the league's most versatile centers. In his first four games with the Nuggets, he's already yielded consistent production and appears on track to rejuvenate his career with a team poised to take the next step.
McGee's experience isn't atypical—a change of scenery can be a struggling player's best friend. Sometimes, guys just don't fit in with a team's culture or otherwise clash with their teammates, coaching staff or all of the above.
In short, chemistry has a lot to do with individual success, and struggling teams tend to produce struggling players. Here are 10 such busts who can't hit the reset button with a new squad soon enough.
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JaVale McGee's former teammate Andray Blatche may be wishing he was the one mercifully ejected by the Wizards at the trade deadline.
The "boo birds" in Washington almost certainly feel the same.
In a sea of busts and potential busts, Blatche stands out as Washington's public enemy No. 1. On the heels of two strong seasons, Blatche's scoring has dipped to 8.5 points per game on an absolutely pitiful 38 percent shooting.
In Blatche's defense, there's a lot going wrong for the Wizards. His slump may be more of a symptom than it is a cause for Washington's woes. Until he rises above the fray, however, he's a bust who will be making almost $8.5 million in 2014-2015 (the last year of a very long and pricey deal).
Given the numbers he's proven capable of producing, there's reason to believe a winning culture could be exactly what Blatche needs.
A slightly friendlier fan base probably wouldn't hurt either.
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With averages of 1.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, things can only get better for Andris Biedrins. While it may be a bit of a stretch to suggest he'd flourish with a better team, he could certainly do much better.
After all, he has before.
Biedrins gave the Warriors reason for hope a few years back, even averaging a double-double in 2008-2009. Since then, he's become an afterthought in Golden State's plans (sure to be even more so with the arrival of Andrew Bogut). Co-owner Joe Lacob believes Biedrins could still have trade value, though it may be hard to move him until his contract reaches its last season.
For whatever reason, the once promising center has seen a rapid decline, and the Warriors appear ill-equipped to set him straight.
Maybe another team can.
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Anthony Randolph is only averaging 5.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12 minutes a game for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The problem isn't so much that the Timberwolves are either a bad team or a bad fit—the roster just happens to be stocked with big forwards, making it difficult for Randolph to get his foot in the door and see regular playing time. In this case, Randolph might actually have a better shot with a young team still early into its rebuilding process (like the New Orleans Hornets or Cleveland Cavaliers).
Randolph appears to have taken a step back, averaging six fewer points than he did with Minnesota last season, but the curtailed playing time is the culprit here. He still boasts an impressive 16.87 player efficiency rating and has the length and athleticism to make an impact in the NBA.
Given the opportunity to play, Randolph should grow into the potential he's long had.
To put Ben Gordon's real cost to the Detroit Pistons in perspective, consider this—he makes roughly what Tony Parker makes only to average seven fewer points and turn the ball over as often as he gets an assist. For a 6'3'' combo-guard, those numbers are mediocre at best.
Gordon has justifiably taken some heat for his lackluster production and hefty contract, but with the exception of his dreadful first season in Detroit, he hasn't really been that bad. His shooting percentage (43 percent) isn't far off career bests in Chicago, and he remains a dangerous scorer at times.
And, to be fair, his reduced production is mostly attributable to fewer minutes and Detroit's lack of a true, veteran point guard. Neither Rodney Stuckey nor rookie Brandon Knight are well-suited to maximize Gordon's efficiency, and he'd do well to find himself on a better team in need of a sixth man.
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In his first season with the Bucks, Beno Udrih has played roughly half the minutes he received in Sacramento and yet has yielded just about half the production.
His 18.5 minutes per contest are unlikely to increase with the acquisition of Monta Ellis further crowding the backcourt, and Udrih could become an even more rare sighting. Whether or not that's his fault is unclear, but Milwaukee certainly isn't getting $7.2 million worth of value out of Udrih.
Udrih would be an ideal fit for a better team with an unsettled point guard situation. He could serve as a valuable complement to Ramon Sessions in Los Angeles or perhaps as depth for the Dallas Mavericks should they miss out on Deron Williams.
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Let's face it, "Big Baby" Glen Davis probably isn't a lock to flourish on any team, but there's little question he could find a club that fits better than the Orlando Magic.
His playing time and shooting percentage have dipped significantly from his last season in Boston, and Ryan Anderson's ascension has made it difficult for Davis to establish a prominent role on Orlando's roster. It's also unclear that he can coexist with Dwight Howard, who occupies the paint so regularly that Davis sees a number of his touches outside the paint.
Davis doesn't have ideal size or great range. When paired with a lengthy big who can shoot (like Kevin Garnett), he can make more of an impact. While Howard apparently lobbied for Orlando to acquire Davis, the better GM decision may be sending him to a team with more complementary personnel.
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John Salmons' production has tanked this season. At 7.5 points a contest, he's scoring nearly half what he put up last season. He's also making field goals at the lowest rate since his second season in the league, which was all the way back in 2004.
Salmons can't even count minutes as an excuse—he's getting over 27 of them a night and has a lowly 9.2 player efficiency rating to show for it.
This is a guy who needs to play with a guard or two who's committed to distributing the ball. Instead, he plays among shoot-first guards like Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans, while also losing shots to the increasingly dominant DeMarcus Cousins.
Salmons' best days may be over, but he might find a second wind with a team who can get him some better scoring opportunities.
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Rashard Lewis has been ranked among the game's all-time most epic busts thanks to his exorbitant contract and declining production.
His season with the Wizards has only made matters worse.
Lewis hasn't shot the ball this badly since his rookie season (in which he only played sparingly), and his 26 minutes and 7.8 points per game make even his previous off years appear half-way decent. There's a real chance this guy is just done, but it's impossible to know for sure so long as he's mired in the dysfunction that is the Washington Wizards.
Lewis deserves a chance to prove himself in a role with a better team. If he can negotiate a buyout or otherwise find a way off the island, he could be valuable to a team with a winning culture. A comeback with a team like Houston—where he played his high school ball—would make for the kind of story NBA fans desperately need.
Even overpaid busts deserve a chance at redemption.
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Shannon Brown's move to the Phoenix Suns hasn't exactly been a coming out party.
The fifth-year guard averages just under 21 minutes a game and has struggled to carve out a consistent role behind starters Grant Hill and Jared Dudley.
Nevertheless, when given opportunities he's shined. When Grant Hill sat out Tuesday's game against San Antonio, Brown dropped a career-high 32 points. He's capable of becoming a dynamic scorer but probably needs at least another five or 10 minutes a night to find a rhythm and further develop his skill set.
Those kinds of opportunities are more likely to emerge with a struggling club in need of an offensively-minded shooting guard, but if Grant Hill moves on from the Suns after the season, Brown might be better off staying in Phoenix.
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Tyrus Thomas has remained a solid defender with the Bobcats, racking up 1.4 blocks per game in just over 21 minutes of playing time. He's struggled mightily with his shot, however, scoring just 5.9 points a game on 35 percent shooting.
He wasn't always this bad.
He shot the ball at 47 percent last season and managed similar efficiency in his four seasons with the Chicago Bulls.
Charlotte isn't exactly a place where careers are made. Paul Silas' club couldn't make things work with the veteran forward Boris Diaw, and the team appears institutionally committed to remaining at the bottom of the standings.
That can take its toll on any athlete, and Thomas stands a good chance of re-discovering his form with a more winning franchise.