Every NBA season the the hot topic around playoff time is who should take home the MVP trophy, and rightfully so. The playoffs are what separate the 'good' from the 'great', and most true MVP candidates have their teams on the biggest stage and in the spotlight.
As we take a look at the players that are the most valuable, we should also examine which players have meant the least to their team during the 2011-2012 season.
This assessment will take into account everything from the player's salary in contrast to their production, injuries that have kept them off the floor and, in some cases, just flat out terrible play. No player is safe, as both rookies and veterans alike are candidates for the "LVP" awards.
Here's a look at the top five candidates for the Least Valuable Player award of the 2011-2012 season.
Jamal Crawford had made quite a nice career for himself as a volume shooting point guard for the Knicks, and in the same role off the bench for the Hawks before signing with the Trail Blazers for two years, $10 mil. Crawford's role for Portland ideally was to replace Brandon Roy as a perimeter scoring sixth man this season.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, the Crawford experiment has failed them. Crawford is shooting his worst percentage from the floor since 04-05 (.385) while only knocking down 32 percent of his three-point attempts. Not to mention his shooting percentage is second-worst among qualified players in the NBA, only ahead of rookie Kemba Walker.
Portland and many others were expecting Crawford to be a big part of the Blazers playoff run, but besides a couple late circus shots and a ton of rebounding opportunities, Crawford has been underwhelming at best.
Good news Blazers fans; with Portland appearing to be retooling for the future don't expect J-Crossover to be back next season. The second year on his deal has a player option, and according to his Twitter he has no intentions of sticking around.
Lamar Odom allegedly pouted his way out of Los Angeles after the trade for Chris Paul that he was a part of fell through, leading the Mavericks to jump at the opportunity to add him to their roster, and help their chances of repeating as NBA champions.
But Odom has been a shell of his former self while playing for Dallas. Odom has struggled with his conditioning, and his overall production as a Maverick—averaging career lows in scoring (6.9) rebounding (4.3) and assists (1.7).
Odom's shooting has been atrocious this season as well. After shooting a career high 53 percent from the floor last season, Odom has slumped to 35 percent this year, including 25 percent from three and 57 percent from the free throw line.
The Mavs didn't risk much to acquire Odom (only a first-round draft pick), but the experiment clearly has been a failure so far. The Mavs are surging going into the playoffs, so it remains to be seen if Odom can finally prove his worth to owner Mark Cuban.
Some could argue that Jimmer Fredette is only a rookie so ranking him on this list is a bit premature, but I would beg to differ. Fredette was supposedly drafted by the Kings to provide perimeter scoring punch to compliment the young Sacramento core of Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins.
Fredette was given a chance to play early in the season, but has since seen his minutes decrease every month—from 25 per game in December all the way down to 14.1 in March—registering five DNPs in the process. Even when he has played, Fredette has had trouble adjusting to the pro game, averaging only 7.2 ppg on 38 percent shooting.
Fredette's struggles have opened the door for fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas to shine. Thomas has taken control of the starting point guard duties for the Kings and has flourished in the role.
Fredette is indeed a rookie with an excellent shooting stroke and will most likely figure it out over time, but his performance this season leaves one to question if the Maloofs trading up to draft Fredette 10th overall was more of a PR move than a basketball decision.
The writing was on the wall for Andray Blatche's disappointing season as quickly as opening night. Just hours after addressing the home crowd as a captain Blatche complained about his role on offense, prompting then head coach Flip Saunders to respond that Blatche was indeed not a team captain.
Blatche went on to strain his calf in January, before returning in March to a chorus of boos from the home crowd. Blatche has since been shut down for a couple weeks to work on his conditioning. In 26 games this year, Blatche has contributed just 8.5 PPG and 5.8 RPG on just .380 shooting from the floor.
Not quite what you would expect from a player who was supposed to be relied upon heavily to produce for the Wizards this season, after averaging 17 and eight last year.
The Wizards dealt for Nene and his massive new contract at the trade deadline, raising the question if they may be finally ready to part ways with Blatche as the two play virtually the same position.
I'm sure the fans in Washington D.C. would be on board with that decision.
I'm sure the Hornets had big expectations when they agreed to deal Chris Paul for Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman in December. Unfortunately, things don't always work out as planned.
Gordon was visibly unhappy when he was traded, saying he felt betrayed by the Clippers front office. But the hope was that Gordon would at least perform well for New Orleans, with Gordon featured as their main scoring option.
What have the Hornets gotten in return? Next to nothing, as Gordon only played in two games for the Hornets this season before returning to action Wednesday night. Gordon returning now is clearly a campaign for his pending restricted free agency, where Gordon is hoping to garner a large enough offer, that the NBA-owned Hornets will decline to match it.
The Hornets are currently in the cellar of the Western Conference and trying to secure more ping-pong balls for the NBA Draft Lottery. At this point the fanbase has given up on this season and are looking towards the future.
Having Gordon return with 16 games left in the season may bring on a couple wins, but that doesn't really help a team that he will more than likely not be a member of next season.