LeBron James and the Most Heavily Criticized Player from Every NBA Team
LeBron James, Monta Ellis and Joe Johnson have often been used as scapegoats for those who try to explain the shortcomings of their teams.
LeBron struggles to deliver in big moments. Monta Ellis shoots too much. And Joe Johnson isn't worth the money he's making. At least that's what their detractors say.
Those are just a few of the league's most heavily criticized players.
There's really one for every team...
Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson
The Hawks took a lot of flak for giving then 29-year-old Joe Johnson a max contract that would extend well into the wing's mid-30s.
Right after signing the deal, Johnson went on to have one of the most mediocre seasons of his career.
For the first time since joining the Hawks, he averaged fewer than 20 points a game, and he posted his worst three-point percentage since his rookie year (30 percent).
Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett
There really aren't many people who openly criticize the Boston Celtics, but Kevin Garnett does deserve some for his outrageous antics on the basketball court.
The older he gets, the more he tries to act like a tough guy.
Charlotte Bobcats: Tyrus Thomas
Tyrus Thomas has never quite lived up to the hype that comes with being the No. 4 overall pick.
And he certainly isn't living up to his current contract, which pays him over $7 million a year.
Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer
Boozer was brought into Chicago to be the second option on offense and to relieve some of the pressure Derrick Rose is under.
During the Bulls' playoff run, he didn't really meet either of those needs.
Some are even saying now that Taj Gibson should be the starting power forward.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving
Thanks to the lockout, he's not there yet, but Kyrie Irving is sure to face a lot of criticism in his first year.
I have a very hard time seeing him living up to the hype that comes with being the No. 1 overall pick.
Dallas Mavericks: Brendan Haywood
Following their impressive run through the playoffs, which was capped by a six-game beatdown of the irrationally favored Miami Heat, there isn't much criticism being heaped on the Dallas Mavericks.
However, many question whether or not Brendan Haywood is worth the money they paid him last summer.
Denver Nuggets: Al Harrington
Al Harrington is about the only bad contract on Denver's books right now.
If the offseason ever starts, they'll have the most cap space of any team in the league.
Denver will try to trade him, but I don't see anyone biting.
Detroit Pistons: Richard Hamilton
This team desperately needs a fresh start, and Richard Hamilton probably should have been moved from Detroit a couple years ago.
He was already being criticized for his play before the whole Pistons players strike last season.
Golden State Warriors: Monta Ellis
Houston Rockets: Terrence Williams
Terrence Williams showed some promise in his rookie year in New Jersey and averaged a triple-double during his stint in the D-League this last year.
However, there are questions about his attitude, and he never found himself on the court much in Houston.
Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger
Danny Granger is the only star on Indiana's roster and is clearly their most productive player.
A lot of people feel he still doesn't do enough, citing a lack of leadership, rebounding and defense.
Los Angeles Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu
The Clippers' biggest position of need is small forward, and I don't see Aminu developing enough to fill the void next year.
Los Angeles Lakers: Pau Gasol
Whenever the Lakers struggle (or flat-out fail as they did against the Mavericks), people always look to blame someone other than Kobe Bryant.
Last year, the primary scapegoat was Pau Gasol.
Memphis Grizzlies: O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo is a very talented, young combo guard who had what would have been considered a great first two years for most players.
He was demoted to the bench last season after starting all 82 games in each of his first couple seasons.
Miami Heat: LeBron James
He's obviously the most criticized player on this team and may be the most deserving of that criticism of anyone in this slideshow.
Milwaukee Bucks: Drew Gooden
Drew Gooden has often been painted as an ineffective, unmotivated, too expensive or just plain bad.
I think a lot of the criticism is unfair. He may not be elite, but he's never failed to average double figures in scoring over an entire season, and his career averages of 12 points and eight rebounds a game are solid.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Michael Beasley
Call me crazy, but I think Michael Beasley has the raw talent to be a Carmelo Anthony-like small forward.
He can score from all over the floor (35 percent from three-point range for his career), is a serviceable rebounder and has great ball-handling skills for a 6'9" guy who played power forward in college.
The problem with Beasley is well documented. He just can't seem to get it together mentally and emotionally. If he ever does, he could be one of the league's best forwards.
New Jersey Nets: Travis Outlaw
A lot of people were pretty confused when the Nets gave Outlaw the big deal they did last summer.
The confusion proved to be warranted, as small forward is still the team's biggest need.
New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul
New Orleans goes as Chris Paul goes, and he could catch a lot of heat if he starts demanding a trade next year.
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
If the Knicks can't get to the next level in 2011-12, Melo will be the scapegoat for the fans and media in New York.
The organization gave up a lot to get this guy, and they want him to deliver.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook
As it is with LeBron James, the criticism here is absolutely warranted.
He's always been more of a shooting guard than point guard, but he ratcheted up his selfishness when he found himself under the bright lights of the playoffs.
Oklahoma City would be wise to move Westbrook to shooting guard (where he could be a Dwyane Wade-like slasher) and starting an actual point guard alongside him.
Orlando Magic: Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas is on the most outrageous contract in the NBA.
As a member of the Magic, he averaged eight points a game while shooting 34 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point range, and he's set to make over $60 million over the next three seasons.
Philadelphia 76ers: Evan Turner
Evan Turner's all-around game was supposed to pave the way for Philadelphia moving Andre Iguodala's big contract. That's why they used the No. 2 overall pick of the 2010 draft on him.
He averaged seven points and four rebounds a game as a rookie. Not what you expect from such a high selection.
Phoenix Suns: Aaron Brooks
If the Suns trade Steve Nash (which they need to do to officially kick start a much-needed rebuilding), Aaron Brooks will instantly be under a ton of pressure.
Suns fans truly adore Nash, and filling his shoes will be a monumental task.
Portland Trail Blazers: Raymond Felton
Felton was Portland's biggest offseason acquisition and will have some big expectations to live up to next year.
The other players on this roster really don't receive much criticism.
Sacramento Kings: Jimmer Fredette
If you think Jimmer Fredette won't receive a ton of completely unwarranted criticism, you're nuts.
As is the case with Tim Tebow, even when Jimmer does good things, the media will find ways to put a negative spin on it.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker
Parker opened himself up to criticism when he said the Spurs' championship window was already closed.
Now, people will wonder if he's giving real effort whenever he struggles.
San Antonio would be wise to move him, and I think New York would be a great destination.
Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani
He does deserve some criticism for his subpar rebounding, but those who are already calling Bargnani a bust are crazy.
He's a very versatile seven-footer who averaged over 20 points a game last year and has hit 37 percent of the three-pointers he's attempted in his career.
Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter
As a Jazz fan, I hope Enes Kanter can live up to the hype.
Unfortunately, I have a feeling he may go the way of so many early-pick, big-man busts.
Washington Wizards: John Wall
John Wall has the weight of an entire franchise on his shoulders.
If the Wizards can't deliver some success in the next couple years, Wall will take the lion's share of the blame.