The official NBA ballots with the big awards such as MVP or All-NBA teams arrived in my e-mail bin on April 2. But the folks in the NBA office are too nice to make any of the ballots “Biggest Waste of Money” or “Most Unfulfilled Potential.”
Here are the first-, second- and third-team winners of the unofficial All-Underachiever honors for doing so much less than was expected of them entering the 2012-13 NBA season. (For the All-Overachiever honors, click here.)
Center: Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia. Bynum’s numbers last season for the Lakers: 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks. This season? All gutter balls.
Forward: Kevin Love, Minnesota. Some would say he was due for a karmic hit for being such a stats-monger and not focusing more on his team’s welfare.
Forward: Gerald Wallace, Brooklyn. Once an injury-prone non-shooter who could do a lot of other things on the floor, Wallace's performance this year illustrates how his reckless style of play over the years has finally taken a toll.
Guard: Danny Granger, Indiana. The job Pacers coach Frank Vogel has done in developing other individual Pacers as well as his team's defense is all the more remarkable given that a player of Granger’s caliber was a mere afterthought this season. He played just five games.
Guard: Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers. Almost lost amid all the whopping storylines from the Lakers season was that of a two-time NBA MVP and one of the best point guards in league history falling off a cliff at age 39.
Center: Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers. Howard’s physical limitations after back surgery and his mental inability to test those limits most of the season made for the primary reason the Lakers were such a bust.
Forward: Rudy Gay, Toronto. It’s a lesson in efficiency: The Grizzlies are better with Marc Gasol getting the ball more and Gay (and his $17.9 million salary) out of town.
Forward: Andrea Bargnani, Toronto. Was he actually never any good?
Guard: Kyle Lowry, Toronto. How about him?
Guard: Darren Collison, Dallas. Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle, two extremely intelligent men, proceeded to give Collison’s playing time to Derek Fisher and Mike James. Yikes.
Center: DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers. The insane dunk on Brandon Knight was just a reminder of what could be…but rarely is.
Forward: Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers. Poetic that all three of the non-Kobe stars could appear on these three teams and properly represent that Lakers’ colossal failure, no?
By not having a clear role most of the season, Gasol is averaging 13.5 points and 8.1 rebounds—way down from 17.4 and 10.4 last season.
Forward: Marcin Gortat, Phoenix. Like Gasol, Gortat didn’t know what the Suns really wanted from him and didn’t even see the court much some nights—but he’s scheduled to be their highest-paid player next season.
Guard: Eric Gordon, New Orleans. Even watching him recently and seeing the old tenacity and skill that made him such an exciting player, odds are that no one will ever again consider him an underachiever; his injury history will compel fans and observers to lower their expectations.
Guard: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee. One of only 10 players with 10 games this season of at least 30 points…and yet so little growth as a team player from the guy whom a very well-respected NBA writer took in our fantasy draft ahead of Kyrie Irving.
Kevin Ding has been a sportswriter covering the NBA and Los Angeles Lakers for OCRegister.com since 1999. His column on Kobe Bryant and LeBron James was judged the No. 1 column of 2011 by the Pro Basketball Writers Association; his column on Jeremy Lin won second place in 2012. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinDing.