5 NBA Stars Wasting Their Efforts on Bad Teams
On a bad team, there is usually one player that shines. Unlike the rest of his teammates, this one man has a solid game nearly every night. Even though the fans rally around him, he will never become a household name outside of his market.
Lowry doesn't get near the amount of recognition he truly deserves.
He is drowning on a team that has a cloudy future. Rather than being the best player on one of the worst teams in the league, he would be much better suited being a solid contributor for a contender.
The same can be said for all good players on the NBA's worst teams. Their talents are not doing them or their teams any favors in their current situation, and their talents will be better utilized elsewhere.
Check out the 5 NBA stars who are wasting their efforts on bad teams.
All stats in this article are accurate as of December 5, 2012
No. 5: Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Career Stats with Sacramento: 18 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, .442 FG%, .258 3P%
Drafted fourth overall by Sacramento in 2009, Evans had a great rookie season. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game, and he was named Rookie of the Year.
Evans' production has dropped each of the following seasons, and he is currently averaging 15.5 points and 4.9 boards per contest. Much like his Kings, he has not shown much improvement since joining the NBA.
Which leads us to my theory: Evans is not a bad player; he's just in a funk because he plays for the Kings.
Since his NBA debut, his team has gotten progressively worse. That's bound to mess with any NBA player's head, particularly a young one looking to make his mark in the league.
Fortunately for Evans, he is only 23 years old and will enter restricted free agency this summer. The cash-strapped Kings are unlikely to match any offer he receives, let alone extend him a qualifying offer based on his performance over the past few seasons.
He just needs a fresh start, and he will likely get one next season.
No. 4: Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Career Stats with Cleveland: 7.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, .517 FG%
Varejao is not a conventional star, but is easily one of the best defensive players in the league. He currently leads the NBA with 15.4 rebounds per game, but plays for the 4-15 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Granted, Varejao did enjoy some good years in Cleveland, back when LeBron James was his teammate.
Those days are gone now, and the 6'11" Brazilian is now stuck on a team that will be in rebuilding mode for the next few years. By the time his contract expires in 2015, he will be nearing 33 years old. There is no telling just how his health will be at that age.
That said, so many of the NBA's better teams, namely the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, could use some help on defense.
Because the Cavaliers need draft picks and more conventional stars to get back on the right track, it would be beneficial for them to put Varejao on the trading block to see what other teams are willing to offer for his services.
On a team like Boston or Miami, Varejao would be a perfect fit as a top defender and rebounder. Away from Cleveland, he could achieve some star status.
No. 3: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
USA TODAY Sports
Career Stats with Sacramento: 16 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1 BPG, .439 FG%
Cousins is only 22, but has great size at 6'11" and 270 pounds. He has slowly become one of the NBA's more dominant centers since being drafted by the Kings in 2010, averaging 16.6 points and 9.7 rebounds this season.
Unfortunately for Cousins, his unpredictable attitude often overshadows the good work he does on the court. He has already been suspended once this season, and it is unclear how much more patience team management will show with him.
Cousins is talented, but is he worth the headache?
Cousins just needs to be on a contending team with an established veteran leader. The Kings are very young, and their longest standing player is John Salmons—not exactly the ideal candidate for Cousins to look up to.
By playing on a team that is a contender, Cousins will have positive playing experiences and be around veterans who can help him mature. Because he will no longer be surrounded by the constant malaise of losing, he will have the chance to fully blossom into the dominant center scouts know he can be.
The key to him getting over his attitude issues is simply winning and learning how to do so, something he will not learn in Sacramento.
No. 2: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Career Stats with Toronto: 18.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6 APG, 1.6 SPG, .427 FG%, .385 3P%
Lowry is only 6'0", 205 pounds, but plays with the energy and gusto of someone much taller. He is averaging 18.3 points, six assists, and an astounding 5.7 rebounds per game, doing it all and never slowing down.
The sad part is that Lowry plays for the Toronto Raptors.
He has a fine go-to guy in DeMar DeRozan, but not much else. Toronto's defense is just plain terrible this season, and probably will be for many years to come. Seven-footer Andrea Bargnani does not seem interested in changing his game at all, and will continue to just be a scorer while young Jonas Valanciunas continues to learn how to play center in the NBA.
Lowry practically forced a trade to the Raptors. Last season, in Houston, he was unhappy with coach Kevin McHale, and requested that he be moved. By requesting another trade so soon, he could develop a reputation as someone with an attitude, which is the last thing he needs.
Either way, the Raptors have another fine point guard in Jose Calderon and can get a great return in a trade involving Lowry. He is so multitalented that teams needing immediate help at point would give up plenty of prospects and draft picks to land him.
Lowry is drowning in Toronto, and it's time for him to take his talents to a team that could use them to win a championship.
No. 1: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Career Stats with Milwaukee: 16.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, .394 FG%, .347 3P%
Jennings is one of the most talented point guards in the league and is currently averaging 16.8 points, 6.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. He and Monta Ellis form one of the NBA's deadliest backcourts, but their Milwaukee Bucks are otherwise a fairly weak team.
In fact, Jennings has already been planning his exit from Milwaukee. He will be a restricted free agent after this season and stated last season that he would "keep his options open" and that he was "doing homework on big-market teams."
One would normally find Jennings' brutal honesty as a sign of disloyalty to Milwaukee, but it's hard to blame him. The Bucks have not been contenders for quite a while now, and their weak frontcourt is still a work in progress, at best.
When push comes to shove, they are a hot-shooting team with little to offer on defense.
Thus, it's understandable why the 23-year-old point guard would want to play elsewhere. The Bucks were a good steppingstone for him, but it is now time for him to go play elsewhere—preferably on a team that regularly contends and where he can blossom even more.