The Worst of the Best: The Five Worst Starters in the NBA
It could easily be argued that the league is as talented than ever. Stars like Kobe Bryant are still playing well while younger players like LeBron James and others are taking the league by a storm.
However, this is not to say there are not bad players in the league. Typically players whose contracts have run longer than their skills have lasted stay in the league way past their expiration date, but others simply are lucky.
While it is plausible to be in the NBA with sub par skills, it is nearly impossible to start without a certain level of talent. Looking at the worst starters, many of them are not terrible players, but rather just players better suited for bench roles.
Not everyone in the league can be a Dwyane Wade or Dwight Howard, but here are a few players that would probably be best left on the bench.
Point Guard: Derek Fisher
While he is best known for making clutch shots in the last ten seconds of games, in the other 47 minutes and 50 seconds, Fisher is downright awful.
Despite not playing a major part in Los Angeles' offensive attack, he still manages to shoot a pathetic percent from the field. Additionally, after finishing last year with the league's worst shooting percentage in close proximity to the basket with 37 percent, Fisher has followed it up with a second straight year with 37 percent shooting.
Defensively, he is a train-wreck at times because of his lack of lateral quickness. Quicker guards like Aaron Brooks, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and others feast on his slow, plodding steps on defense. While he can guard bigger men effectively, his lack of all-around defensive talent poses a major issue for LA.
While having a clutch shooter at the end of games is crucial, the fact that LA has been winning for 48 minutes with him at the helm speaks volumes to the talent around him. If he keeps up his poor shooting, it will just make it easier for Phil Jackson to put him on the bench.
Shooting Guard: Nick Young
In a lot of ways, Nick Young looks like a nice player. He's a good three-point shooter, can score in a variety of ways, and pours in eighteen points per 40 minutes. However, outside of that, he is pretty useless.
Last year, with a extremely low assist rate of 9.2 assists per 100 possessions used, John Hollinger considered giving him a "special award for being the most selfish player on the league's most selfish team."
Fortunately for Young, the league did not have such an award last year, however, given the plunge to an absurd 6.7 assist rate per 100 possessions used, the league may be forced to make one.
Not only is he selfish, but he makes up for his decent leaping by deciding to take half of the game off when his team doesn't have the ball. As mentioned above, he is a great leaper, but he somehow manages to have a severely disappointing rebounding percentage that continues to plummet each year in the league.
Sure, he is a guy with a lot of talent, but his complete aversion to playing team basketball and putting forth effort has got the Wizards starting the worst shooting guard in the league.
Small Forward: Jason Kapono
Typically three point specialists are helpful in certain situations, but usually are better suited to come off the bench. However, three point specialists who can't make three pointers anymore have little use.
Kapono, was one of those players, the guy who does nothing but shoot, but can't make a shot. This year, he came off the bench all year, however, when Thaddeus Young was injured late in the year, Kapono was thrust into the starting lineup.
He performed better as a starter than his useless self that appeared earlier in the year, but still was pretty awful. For a guy who had shot better than 50% from three point range just a few years earlier, 37% is not going to cut it.
For an average player, 37 percent is a decent percentage, but for a player lacking any other discernible basketball skill other than shooting, to start for a team is almost laughable.
He lacks the quickness to guard any player with speed, offensively cannot elevate at the rim and is thus relegated to shooting jumpers all day, and is worthless when trying to rebound, as his poor athleticism has caught up with him.
Right now, he is a serviceable 10th man on an NBA roster, but in no way does he have any business starting in the league.
Power Forward: Yi Jianlian
The fact that Yi Jianlian is the worst starting power forward in basketball truly speaks to the depth of talent in the NBA. Yi is not a useless player, only a fairly bad one, and had a good year by his standards in 2009-2010.
He showed an appreciable increase in shooting ability, getting his shooting percentage back above 40 percent (barely), but his increase in rebounds and points per game is more due to his increase in minutes than anything. In fact, on a per minute basis, Jianlian actually rebounded worse this year.
Unfortunately, like Jason Kapono, he is a catch-and-shoot guy who hasn't shot well enough to warrant more time on the floor, but the Nets lack of depth has given him far more opportunity. He doesn't have the ability to finish near the rim or in the post, so his offensive game is fairly limited.
Defensively, his lack of muscle is an issue because he is often bullied out of position while stronger post players make easy shots despite his long frame.
He may still have upside at the age of 22 (more likely he is 24-25 years old), but the window is closing fast. In a team completely devoid of frontcourt talent outside of Brook Lopez, he had his chance to make the big leap to respectability but unfortunately did not.
At least he's better than Josh Boone.
Center: Chuck Hayes
Losing Yao for the season, the Rockets did not go out and acquire a big center to combat the long, muscular big men that the contenders all seem to have. While Hayes is a capable defender, his glaring lack of size was exposed as teams saw him for more than twenty minutes a night instead of the ten minute cameos that he managed in previous years.
A 6'6", Hayes is instantly written off by the casual fan because he gives up six inches to most centers. While he combats them with his impressive strength in the post, he does not have the skills to be a starting center in this league.
He doesn't block shots but rather takes charges, but as teams realized that they could pull up for floaters as the year went along, the need for a big athletic center became apparent. The difference with Jordan Hill over Chuck Hayes on the court was huge, and opponents drew fewer easy layups as a result.
While his gimpy knee certainly contributed to his unimpressive defensive season, it was more likely due to the extra exposure as a starting center.
Additionally, while he improved offensively, he was still fairly poor in that regard. With no post skills and a still less than can be expected layup talent, opponents could disregard him at times. While he drew a few easy layups as a result, he still was overall disappointing.
The reason he is the worst starter at center is not because he is a bad basketball player, in fact he is pretty good at what he does, defending good post players, but thrusting him into a role he is not suited for was a mistake by the Rockets management.