NBA Free Agents 2012: JaVale McGee and 8 Knuckleheads Who Will Thrive in 2012-13
Every sport has its share of knuckleheads, but that's especially true for the NBA.
It gets very frustrating at times to watch a player with so much talent underachieve on and off the court.
The NBA is filled with this type of player.
To define knucklehead, in this case, I'm talking about players who have the ability to make the game look easy. But, in addition, they're a head case, immature or have a lazy demeanor that affects their play from time to time.
These guys have the talent to play the game at its highest level but do things that belittle their talents like like being a ball hog, statistically underachieving, and sometimes, don't give their maximum effort.
Yeah, every NBA team likely has a player who fits into that category.
Yet, I have faith that the guys on this list will find a way to put it together in 2013 and change their knucklehead behavior.
8. Andray Blatche
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He ranks low on the list, as I have the least amount of faith in him to turn things around.
Blatche has the talent to be a very skilled post player. He has the strength to outmuscle an opponent on the block and the ability to face up and knock down the mid-range jumper.
However, if there's a player in the NBA who defines the word lazy, it's Blatche. He refuses to commit to applying his talents on the court to be a great player.
He only played in 26 games last season, his seventh season, averaging 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. The Wizards removed Blatche from the team during the latter part of the season due to a lack of conditioning.
His attitude is a magnet for technicals—he tries to play like a guard, is lackadaisical on defense and doesn't give consistent effort all of the time.
The hardest I think Blatche ever played is when he attempted to pick up a last-minute triple-double.
All of the nonsense has minimized his skills. A fresh start with a new team and an organization that won't put up with his immaturity could be exactly what turns Blatche's career around.
7. Michael Beasley
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Beasley has all the talent in the world at the offensive end of the floor, but watching him try and play defense is funnier than any sitcom you can find on television.
He just signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix Suns, so it presents another fresh start for Beasley.
According to KARE 11 (h/t The Huffington Post), he has had multiple documented marijuana issues and showed his immaturity in a summer league incident, giving a fan the “Heisman” to the face.
That and his tendency to not play hard all the time defines him as a knucklehead.
But he has the talent to be a star and needs to take advantage of it with a new opportunity in Phoenix.
6. Josh Smith
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Josh Smith is a star already but has the talent to be so much more.
When he realizes he's not a perimeter shooter, Smith is an All-Star.
Watching him think that he's a jump shooter is comical at times. He's best at attacking the rim, and when he focuses on that fact instead of hoisting up jumpers and working on trying to get out of Atlanta, the possibilities are endless for J-Smooth.
The 2013 season could be the year when he puts it all together.
5. J.R. Smith
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J.R. Smith has had the reputation of a greedy player who never met a shot he didn't like, but he surprisingly didn't bring that reputation to the Big Apple last season.
However, his shot selection can be a team killer, and he shot a very poor percentage (31.6 percent from the floor and 17.9 percent from behind the arc) in the playoffs.
According to ESPN, he was also arrested shortly after the Knicks were eliminated in the postseason for driving without a valid drivers license.
Yet, I think New York has been good for Smith, and while his shot selection leaves something to be desired, I think he will do enough this season to shed that reputation of being a selfish player.
4. DeMarcus Cousins
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The questions surrounding DeMarcus Cousins all have to do with his attitude. He's been a distraction in Sacramento in only two years in the league and already is a coach killer, playing a big role in getting Paul Westphal fired, according to ESPN.
But while he's a knucklehead, Cousins has some out-of-this-world talent.
However, he likes to play too much like a guard, doesn’t always bring it on the defensive end and picked up an alarming 14 technicals and three ejections as a rookie.
But his skill set says he will be dominant, evident by a great rookie season, averaging 14.1 points and 8.4 rebounds, followed up by a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 18.1 points and 11.0 boards per night.
Questions will remain about his careless attitude, but if he shakes that, 2013 could be a huge year for Cousins.
3. Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard has made the transition from superstar to knucklehead as fast as anyone in history.
His play on the court is still at a superstar level, but the entire Howard soap opera has turned him into a knucklehead.
There's been the laughing on the bench while the Magic were getting blown out by the Knicks and the selfishness he's shown throughout this entire saga means he will never be looked at the same again.
In addition, Howard played a role in the dismissals of both head coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith.
However, I have a feeling that in 2013, Howard will grow up, keep his mouth shut, and once again, put basketball before his selfish needs.
Then, we can just talk about Howard the player again and not all of the sideshow drama he likes to play a major role in.
2. Andrew Bynum
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Bynum was a monster in 2012, but I need to see it during back-to-back seasons, and I think he's ready to have a big 2013—no matter what uniform he's wearing.
However, with Bynum comes all the immaturity the Lakers had to deal with his entire career.
Whether it be suspensions, ejections, not taking part in team huddles, missing meetings or chucking up ill-advised threes, Bynum comes with a lot of baggage.
He's on the last year of his deal, and I expect him to have a big year, but will he ever grow up enough to be a real NBA superstar?
1. JaVale McGee
McGee is the definition of a knucklehead, and I will let the video speak to that.
Anytime you have the talent of McGee and a team like the Wizards give up on you, then it speaks to where his head is at.
However, he has all the tools to be dominant and showed the heart needed to be a quality big man in the playoffs when he was matched up against Bynum.
From his awful attempt at a triple-double in 2011 to his alley-oop to himself with the Wizards trailing by six late in the fourth quarter, and everything in between, McGee has shown nothing but a selfish attitude and immature behavior.
But we saw a different McGee in the playoffs, and 2013 could be the year he grows up and turns the corner as a player.