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The Biggest Headcases in the NBA

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

The Biggest Headcases in the NBA

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    These days, it seems that for every great NBA player, there are 10 headcases.

    Okay, so maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but there are a lot of guys in the league today that coaches must resist the urge to backhand. Some names probably just popped into your head right now, as some have been in the news recently.

    It then might take you some time to think of a couple of other players who fit this bill, but, more than likely, you'll be able to identify some more.

    Then there are some that are on this upcoming list that may surprise you. You may not think of these players as distractions right off the bat, but with a little digging, you'll realize that they are.

    Without further ado, here are the biggest headcases in the NBA.

    All statistics in this article are valid as of December 25, 2012.

Dwyane Wade

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    Dwyane Wade may be a great player. He may be a great teammate. He may be a two-time NBA champion. However, he is one of the dirtiest players in the league, and I'm not even sure Miami Heat fans would debate that at this point.

    Take a look at the groin shot he delivered to Ramon Sessions during a game against the Charlotte Bobcats on Dec. 26, for example. Something like that has absolutely no place in this league. But hey; if that were the first questionable thing Wade had done, maybe we could give him a pass.

    It wasn't, though.

    Remember this shove he gave Darren Collison during the playoffs last year? Or this shoulder he threw into Richard Hamilton? How about breaking Kobe Bryant's nose during the 2012 All-Star Game?

    There are no excuses for Wade anymore. He is a dirty player. A great one, but a dirty one.

Tyreke Evans

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    Remember when Tyreke Evans won the Rookie of the Year award after his magnificent 2009-10 season?

    That feels like ages ago, as Evans has gone from bright young star to someone who has been the subject of trade rumors for quite a while now. Some have speculated that the Sacramento Kings may deal him this season.

    Evans has been trending downward ever since his rookie campaign, and a lot of that has to do with the Kings being unable to find a position for him. They have tried him at point guard, shooting guard and small forward, and the 23-year-old hasn't been too thrilled about it.

    Now, maybe some of Evans' displeasure is warranted, because it's never easy to play all over the floor as such. However, his regression is inexcusable for a player of his talent. Also, for someone who cannot shoot the three ball with any kind of consistency, he certainly takes a lot of shots from beyond the arc.

Deron Williams

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    You may not associate the word "headcase" with Deron Williams yet, but you know what, it might be time to start.

    First of all, there were reports that Williams was the one who ran Jerry Sloan, an all-time great coach, out of Utah when he was a member of the Jazz. Sloan had never had any problems with star players in the past. He coached Karl Malone and John Stockton to two finals appearances, and they both loved Sloan. Why were there issues with Williams?

    Maybe all D-Will needed was a change of scenery.

    Well, now he is a member of the Brooklyn Nets, and with the Nets now muddling along after a strong start, he has already criticized Avery Johnson, saying that Sloan's offense was actually a better fit for him. So, he is saying Johnson's offense is worse than the offense of a coach that he ran out of town a couple of years back?

    Talk about ironic.

    What Williams really needs to do is look in the mirror and accept the fact that he just isn't the same player anymore.

    Since coming over to Brooklyn (then New Jersey) in 2011, Williams has shot a paltry 39.8 percent from the floor. That is exactly the percentage he is shooting this season. This year, Deron's 16.6 points per game are his lowest since 2006-07, and his eight assists per game are his lowest since his rookie campaign.

    Here is another interesting stat for Williams. During his first three seasons in the league, he took an average of 2.7, 3.2, and 2.6 three-pointers per game, respectively. Let's fast-forward to last season and this year. During the 2011-12 campaign, D-Will took a whopping 6.2 threes per game. This season, he is taking 5.5 a contest.

    Obviously, this signifies that Williams has lost some quickness and just does not have the explosiveness to get to the basket like he once did.

    Williams is only 28, but he appears to already be going downhill. That's not his coach's fault.

Kevin Love

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    Like D-Will, you might see Kevin Love's name here and think, "Huh? He's not a headcase." Well, let's examine the evidence.

    In an interview with Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears over the summer, Love said he was losing patience with the Minnesota Timberwolves front office. Then, during the Olympics, he complained about lack of playing time on Team USA. Then in mid-Dec. 2012, Love once again questioned the Timberwolves front office, asking whether or not there was a plan in place.

    Even Minnesota fans are growing tired of Love's woe-is-me act, so much so that they have actually begun heckling him at the Target Center.

    Maybe Love's complaints would hold some weight if, you know, he were actually playing well.

    Love has been nothing short of abysmal offensively this season, shooting 36.3 percent from the floor. No, that is not a typo. A 6'10", 260-pound "star" who played on Team USA is shooting 36.3 percent.

    It gets worse, too.

    Love is also shooting a horrendous 24.7 percent from long range and 68.5 percent from the free-throw line.

    Now, again, Love is 6'10" and weighs 260 pounds. So, if he is shooting that poorly from three, then why in the world is he taking 5.2 treys a game? Shouldn't he be down low?

    The funniest thing about all of this is that Kevin Garnett, a player whose jockstrap Love can't—and never will—hold, suffered for 12 years in Minnesota, and he never made a peep about the front office. Yet, Love is whining after four-and-a-quarter seasons while putting forth dismal performances night in and night out this season.

    Rick Adelman needs to do two things: one, shut Love up, and two, tell him to stop taking so many threes.

JaVale McGee

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    I am not going to bombard you with the many videos of JaVale McGee screwing up on the basketball court. Chances are, you've seen just about all of them, and if not, you can go and look for yourself.

    Fortunately for McGee, he now has a good coach in George Karl to monitor his progression and make sure he doesn't do anything detrimental to his Denver Nuggets team.

    Karl has clearly had a positive effect on McGee, as the 24-year-old is averaging a career-high 20.6 points and 3.8 blocks per 36 minutes this season. McGee is also shooting 60 percent from the floor after hitting on 61.2 percent of his shots in 20 games with the Nuggets last year.

    Also notable with McGee is his win shares per 48 minutes stat. He has improved each and every year in that area, with his mark of .167 this season being his best.

    The former Washington Wizard has the ability to develop into one of the game's best big men. Let's just hope his basketball IQ sharpens.

Metta World Peace

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    Metta World Peace's inclusion on this list is pretty ironic, taking into consideration his name is, well, Metta World Peace, but there is no doubt that the forward still has some issues.

    Ron Art..., er, I mean World Peace, had, for the most part, kept his name out of controversy over the past several years. Then, he threw that vicious elbow at James Harden in April of last season, and Metta World Peace had become Ron Artest again.

    Okay, so World Peace has improved as an individual since the infamous Malice in the Palace, and he has even befriended the fan whom he attacked during that melee. That doesn't mean he is no longer a headcase.

    The good news for the Lakers is that World Peace is enjoying his best season as a member of the team, averaging just under 14 points per game while hitting on a very impressive 38 percent of his three-point attempts.

Andrew Bynum

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    Andrew Bynum has always been one to flash moments of immaturity.

    From criticizing the great Shaquille O'Neal when he first came into the league (remember him saying he could hit his free throws?) to taking ill-advised three-pointers that resulted in him getting benched, Bynum has hardly been a model teammate throughout his first eight NBA seasons (yes, he has been around that long).

    Throw in the fact that he is apparently an abhorrent neighbor, and there isn't much you can say to defend Bynum's attitude.

    We keep waiting for Bynum to mature and become a consistent force, but it hasn't happened. For example, after a great 2011-12 regular season that led many to believe he had finally broken out, Bynum was MIA for a very solid portion of the 2012 playoffs as his Lakers were bounced in the second round.

    Of course, Bynum is now a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, and he has yet to play a game for them due to issues in both of his knees.

    At this point, Bynum's immaturity may not be what prevents him from becoming a reliable player. It may be his health.

Michael Beasley

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    Michael Beasley personifies the term "locker room cancer."

    Just 23 years old, the former No. 2 overall pick has already worn out his welcome with two franchises and is in the process of doing so with a third. After signing a three-year, $18 million deal with the Phoenix Suns over the summer, Beasley is now being viewed as a toxin to the ballclub.

    It's a shame, too, because it really looked like the Kansas State product was coming into his own during the 2010-11 season with the Timberwolves when he averaged 19.2 points per game. It has been all downhill for Beasley from there, however, finding himself in the doghouse for much of his final season with Minnesota last year and getting off to a very rough start in Phoenix this year. Beasley is shooting only 37.5 percent from the floor.

    If Beasley doesn't get his act together soon, he may end up out of the NBA altogether in a couple of years.

DeMarcus Cousins

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    This one is kind of a no-brainer.

    The sad thing is that DeMarcus Cousins has the talent to be the best offensive big man in the league. He can do things that Dwight Howard and Bynum cannot even dream of doing. Like this. And this. And this. And this. And, well, you get the picture.

    This is only Cousins' third year in the league, and we have already seen him demand a trade and, almost exactly one year later, get suspended by the Kings for cursing out his coach. The best part? Right after being reinstated by Sacramento, Cousins got into an altercation with Kings assistant Clifford Ray.

    Cousins may not even realize how insanely talented he is. Actually, it's pretty apparent that he doesn't, given that he is shooting only 41.4 percent from the floor despite possessing incredible skills and footwork in the low post.

    Cousins is only 22 and has plenty of time to mature. He may remind one of a young Zach Randolph, a player who was deemed a cancer early on in his career only to move on to the Memphis Grizzlies and develop into one of the game's most dominant big men.

    The scary thing is, Cousins' ceiling is significantly higher than Randolph's ever was. He can post up, shoot, pass and handle the ball offensively, and let's not forget how much of an animal he is on the glass. Cousins led the league in offensive rebounds last year, averaging 4.1 per game.

    If this kid can ever get his head on straight, look out.

Dwight Howard

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    From the everlasting Dwightmare, to saying in October that he really wanted to be traded to the Nets, to refusing to answer questions from an Orlando Magic reporter, there has been no shortage of moments that have made Howard look like the biggest headcase in the NBA over the past year.

    Of course, given that Howard is one of the most dominant forces in the league and can change a game defensively like few others have been able to over the past decade, you take the bad with the good. That being said, the bad has turned him into one of the biggest villains in all of sports.

    It's not like Howard has anyone to blame but himself for how he handled the situation in Orlando, either. Did the Magic front office miss the boat on surrounding him with enough talent to win a championship? Maybe, but that's no excuse for going about things the way he did.

    All things considered, there is no sense in beating a dead horse. Dwight is a member of the Lakers now, and with the team looking like it is finally hitting its stride, there is a very good chance we will be seeing an awful lot of his sheer dominance in the playoffs.

    Oh wait...Howard is a free agent this summer. Oh boy...

Honorable Mention: Andray Blatche

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    If Andray Blatche had not cleaned his act up with the Nets this season, he would have undoubtedly found his way on to this list. After all, it was just last season that the Wizards benched Blatche due to poor conditioning, and it was this past summer when they then amnestied him. Oh, and how can we forget the pathetic yet entertaining spectacle of him chasing a triple-double in 2010?

    Blatche hated his time in Washington so much that last month he said the Wizards tried to "end" him. If by "end" him, he means them paying him the remaining $23 million of his contract just so they could get rid of him and so that he could sign with a better team, then one can understand where he is coming from (not really).

    To Blatche's credit, he has turned his career around in Brooklyn. For now, anyway.

    Blatche is shooting a career-high 49.2 percent from the floor and is putting up career-best per-36-minute stats in points (19.4) and rebounds (10.3).

    This hilarious blown layup aside, Blatche has been playing pretty well this season.

    Still, it should be interesting to see if he continues to play this well if the Nets continue to struggle.

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