Worst Rotation Player from Each NBA Team
Every team has their scrubs, the guys who we all know are only on an NBA roster for insurance purposes in case the guys who actually deserve playing time get hurt.
Sometimes those guys are making a lot more than the ones who actually play, which is a whole different topic.
I want to look at one guy from each team, who isn't necessarily overpaid, and who isn't really a bench warmer either, but who probably should be based on the contributions, or lack thereof, that he makes to his team's success.
After looking over a few different team rosters, I decided to put the cutoff for this article at someone who played at least eight minutes per game in the 2010-11 NBA regular season. I didn't put a cutoff on the number of games they needed to play in to be eligible, but decided to focus more on how the player figures into the present and long term plans of his team.
One other clarification: the players are listed in no particular order.
1. Boston Celtics: Jermaine O'Neal
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Jermaine O'Neal hater; I think he definitely had his day, and was a special player in the NBA for several seasons.
However, he no longer deserves starters minutes, let alone a starting job, especially not for a team as good as the Boston Celtics.
Last year he averaged a paltry 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, while only actually appearing in 24 regular season games for Boston. In those games in which he did play he was still limited, and is no longer able to be effective defensively at the highest level.
2. New Jersey Nets: Stephen Graham
So many to choose from on this team, it's not even funny. Well okay, maybe a little bit.
I picked this photo because it seems to represent Graham's level of play with the team: dazed and confused without contributing much else.
His averages from last season are inexcusable (3.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.7 assists per game), yet he somehow managed to start in 28 games! This also says a lot about the current status of the Nets' rebuilding process.
3. New York Knicks: Roger Mason
Roger Mason is currently slotted as the backup shooting guard for the New York Knicks. He spent last season backing up second round pick and rookie Landry Fields, which shows how far he has regressed since he emerged as a three point specialist in San Antonio.
He only played in 26 games this past season, averaging just under three points in about 12 minutes a game. He is 30 now and probably nearing the tail end of his career; right now, he is one of the weakest links on the New York Knicks roster.
4. Philadelphia 76ers: Andres Nocioni
Andres Nocioni has bounced around a lot over the past couple of seasons, and it isn't unreasonable to think that Philadelphia might be the final stop of his NBA career.
He plays as the primary backup at small forward for the 76ers right now, and it's a good thing that the team has Andre Iguodala starting; they need to play Nocioni as little as they possibly can at this point.
He still averages a decent number of points at just over six in about 17 minutes per game, and the one thing he does bring to the table is a decent three point shot.
That being said, he does little on the defensive end and should probably see his minutes cut as much as possible next season.
5. Toronto Raptors: Julian Wright
The Raptors are another team with no shortage of weak links that could stand to be replaced. The truth is that most of these guys are at least decent offensive players, but it's their lack of defensive effort that sinks the ship season after season.
The two main candidates were Wright and Linas Kleiza, both of whom spend the bulk of their time at the small forward spot for Toronto. Wright wins the prize here though because his per minute stats are worse than those of Kleiza, though still on par with what he has done for most of his career.
He shoots a good percentage from the field overall but is terrible from three point range, making only two during the entire 2009-10 season. In the NBA today, a small forward needs to do better than that. In addition, he's barely above 58 percent for his career on free throw percentage.
6. Chicago Bulls: Keith Bogans
This spot could have gone to Rasual Butler, but he played so few games for the Bulls last season, and joined them so late in the season, that he doesn't really seem to be a good fit for this article.
Bogans is the logical choice and one that most Bulls fans would probably agree with. This past season he was at or near his career lows in most major statistical categories. Part of that had to do with his only earning around 17 minutes a game, but that number would have been higher had he played better.
The Bulls will have a hard time making it to the NBA Finals as long as Bogans is their starting shooting guard.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alonzo Gee
The funny thing is, I don't ever remember hearing or seeing the name of Alonzo Gee until I saw he was starting for the Cavaliers last season.
That's a perfect recipe for finding the least valuable member of the Cavaliers rotation. He somehow managed to start for 29 games last season, while only averaging 5.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
He also played for three teams last season, not exactly an indication of someone who does a lot to help his team win.
8. Detroit Pistons: Jason Maxiell
This one was a little bit of a challenge for me to pick, but ultimately I settled on Maxiell because he seems the most expendable of any of the players the Pistons have going forward. They have a lot of redundancy at a couple of positions, power forward being one of them.
Maxiell played about 16 minutes a game last season, his lowest total in four seasons. In addition, he only averaged 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
With Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva and Chris Wilcox also vying for time at the four spot, Maxiell shouldn't be with the team too much longer.
9. Indiana Pacers: A.J. Price
On paper, the Pacers seem like they should be better than they are. They took a positive step by making the playoffs last season. Defensive focus and minor roster tweaks are two things they can do to get better.
Price doesn't seem to fit into their long term plans. He only averages just over two assists in about 16 minutes per game, not good enough for a backup point guard with a lot of competent offensive players surrounding him.
One step to improvement next season for the Pacers is to get rid of Price.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Keyon Dooling
The Bucks are basically average at a lot of positions but don't really stand out in any of them, with the exception of Andrew Bogut at center.
Keyon Dooling is currently their weakest link, failing to provide an adequate contribution as the backup point guard to Brandon Jennings. He shoots a low percentage and only averaged three assists in 22 minutes a game last season.
His scoring output is adequate, but the Bucks need more of a distributor at the backup point guard spot than what Dooling has been for them.
11. Atlanta Hawks: Hilton Armstrong
Hilton Armstrong is the true definition of an NBA journeyman, having played on five different teams during the past two seasons, and with good reason.
He's very athletic and a great finisher at the rim, but has never been able to be consistently productive enough to earn more than a few minutes a game. Last season he averaged just over two rebounds and less than half a block per game in just over nine minutes per game.
Note: I'm not sure if Armstrong will be back on the Hawks roster next season. If not, then Marvin Williams would be next in line for a spot in this slideshow.
12. Charlotte Bobcats: Eduardo Najera
Najera didn't play in a lot of games for Charlotte, appearing only 31 times, but he averaged 12 minutes a game when he did play.
He was one of several players who saw almost no playing time in the latter part of the season, which made it questionable to select him for this slideshow. However, including him fits for what the team needs; to clear their books of older veterans with bad contracts and really start the rebuilding process.
He's been in the league for 11 years now, but it is probably time for him to call it quits. He shot far below his career averages for field goal and free throw percentage last season. The thing he did well was foul, racking one up for almost every six minutes he spent on the court.
Whatever happens next season, with Charlotte continuing to get younger and further into their rebuilding process, Najera likely doesn't fit into their long term plans.
13. Miami Heat: James Jones
Anyone else think Ray Allen is having a little too much fun in this picture? Anyway...
The Miami Heat are an interesting team to look at, especially with the way their roster changed so much throughout the course of last season, and even the changes that took place within the playoffs themselves. Certain players that had become regular parts of the rotation found themselves on the bench for games at a time.
I picked James Jones for this slide because essentially he is a duplication of what Mike Miller already gives the Heat, only he is much more one-dimensional. Jones does nothing but spot up for three, which is one of the reasons he didn't play at all in the Finals against the Mavericks.
When a three-point specialist can only give you one-to-two threes a game in 20 minutes of action, he probably isn't doing enough to help the team win.
14. Orlando Magic: Gilbert Arenas
I know I said this slideshow wasn't about salaries. It's not. The truth is, Gilbert Arenas was so bad this past season that he could have made this slideshow based solely on his performance, ignoring the fact that he is one of the NBA's higher salaried players.
Arenas was expected to be a powerful sixth man off the bench for the Magic after being acquired mid-season from the Wizards, but he failed to deliver on most occasions. He only averaged eight points a game and about three assists after the trade, far below his career levels.
The trade that was supposed to put the Magic at the top of the list of Eastern Conference contenders has instead handicapped them financially going forward, which, along with the extremely poor performance of Arenas throughout the season, earns him a spot in my slideshow.
15. Washington Wizards: Yi Jianlian
There is a lot of unfulfilled potential surrounding Yi Jianlian. He is a 7'0'' power forward who has career averages of 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. His defense has been spotty at best for much of his career.
As part of a reduced role in Washington with the Wizards last season, Yi only averaged four rebounds in just under 18 minutes a game, not nearly enough for someone of his size and athleticism.
With Andray Blatche as the starter at power forward, and rookie Trevor Booker showing some promise as his backup last season, Yi does not look to have much of a future in Washington.
16. Golden State Warriors: Vladimir Radmanovic
Vladimir Radmanovic has had a decent career, but that seems to be coming to a close. His three point shooting percentage is still good, but other than that he is not making much of an impact on either end of the court.
He only averaged just over five points in about 15 minutes of action last season with the Warriors, and with all the other good scoring options that they have, his role going forward is probably going to be even more limited.
17. Los Angeles Clippers: Jamario Moon
Jamario Moon, who previously played with LeBron James and the Cavaliers, finished up the end up last season with the Clippers after being traded to them in the deal for Baron Davis.
Moon likely doesn't fit in with the long term plans of the Clippers. He has become primarily a spot-up three point shooter but does little else. Also, he is 31 now, and not likely to show much improvement at all in the coming years.
The Clippers drafted Al-Farouq Aminu last year at the same position, who should be taking most of Moon's minutes next season.
18. Los Angeles Lakers: Steve Blake
Steve Blake was supposed to serve as a a capable backup and possible short term future replacement for Derek Fisher. After last season, it's unclear whether either of those scenarios is viable going forward.
In 20 minutes a game last season, Blake averaged only four points and 2.2 assists. He shot well below his career averages on both two and three pointers.
I liked Blake as a player while he played for Portland, but I don't feel like he is a good fit with the Lakers' personnel or their offensive schemes.
There's a chance this will change under new coach Mike Brown, but for now, it looks like Blake in a Lakers uniform just isn't going to work.
19. Phoenix Suns: Josh Childress
Josh Childress had his worst season as an NBA player last season after spending two years playing overseas. Maybe it'll just take him a year or two to readjust to the NBA game once again.
He shot a good percentage on field goals but less than 50 percent on free throws, and he wasn't very impressive on the defensive end either.
The afro is cool, but the Suns are paying Childress way too much money just to be an under-performing role player.
20. Sacramento Kings: Donte Greene
Donte Greene showed some promise in the 2009-10 season as a second year player, starting 50 games for the Kings. He regressed last season though, starting only 21.
His field goal percentage and three point percentage both decreased, and as a consequence he didn't seem very effective offensively while on the court.
However, his playing time seemed to increase towards the latter part of the season, primarily at the expense of Omri Casspi, which I'm not sure was deserved. Going forward, he may be the odd man out in the rotation.
21. Dallas Mavericks: DeShawn Stevenson
It's hard to nitpick with the Mavericks, now the defending world champions and who last season were clearly one of the deepest and most balanced teams in the league.
Stevenson would have to be considered the weakest link in the rotation, or if not him then possibly Peja Stojakovic. But I'm giving Stevenson the nod here because he is a more permanent part of the rotation, having been in Dallas much longer than Stojakovic.
Despite earning a starting spot in the rotation for much of the season, he averaged just over five points a game in about 16 minutes. Again this isn't horrible, since his primary role on the team is as a defender and spot up three point shooter.
The truth is though that Dallas almost seemed harder to play against when Barea stepped into the starting lineup ahead of him during the Finals. It will be interesting to see what his role with the team is going forward.
22. Houston Rockets: Goran Dragic
This was a hard one for me because I really like all of the rotation players on the Rockets. I think they have a deep, solid rotation going forward.
Dragic was the pick ultimately because he can be very inconsistent with his play. Sometimes he looks like he could be a permanent NBA starter; other times it looks like he might not even hold onto a roster spot for much longer.
Players like Terrence Williams or Patrick Patterson could both appear her at some point, depending on their future development with the Rockets.
For now, though, the Rockets don't have too many glaring weaknesses on their roster. That could all change if they end up flipping some of their assets for a superstar at some point.
23. Memphis Grizzlies: Greivis Vasquez
I could have gone with Xavier Henry here, but since he wasn't playing by the end of the season, I chose to go with someone who was.
Vasquez scored just over three points and handed out just over two assists in about 12 minutes per game last season. He didn't shoot a particularly high percentage, hitting less than 30 percent of his threes and only averaging 0.5 free throws per game.
I would cut him some slack because it was his first season in the league, but he needs to improve his game next season to retain his spot as the Grizzlies backup point guard.
24. New Orleans Hornets: Quincy Pondexter
The choice here was between either Jason Smith or Quincy Pondexter, but he ended up getting the spot for a couple reasons.
First, if David West ends up coming back to the Hornets, Smith will be on the bench next season. Second, Smith has more value, being a seven footer with decent basketball skills, than Pondexter does.
He averaged 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds a game last season, and doesn't appear ready to break into a bigger role in the Hornet's rotation anytime soon.
Trevor Ariza is pretty solidly set in as the starter at small forward, but if Pondexter's production doesn't improve this next season, the Hornet's may look elsewhere for his future backup.
25. San Antonio Spurs: Richard Jefferson
This was a tough one for me, but I picked Jefferson because even though he isn't the weakest player in the rotation in terms of his statistical contributions, he has never seemed to fit in as well as people hoped with the Spurs' offense.
Last season he averaged 11 points in over 30 minutes per game, showing flashes of his former self at points throughout the season. However, during the playoffs he averaged only 6.5 points and less than one assist per game in about the same number of minutes as during the regular season.
It makes sense why Jefferson is starting, when you look at the length and size of his salary, as well as the list of players backing him up. But the reality is that his extension was a rare mistake of that sort for the Spurs, one that would be best remedied with a trade, unlikely as that is at this point.
26. Denver Nuggets: Chris Andersen
As silly as Birdman looks, that's not the reason why I chose him for this slideshow. With trades that the Nuggets made last season, he is now much more expendable.
He's 33 years old and has lost much of the athleticism that made him such a force defensively for the Nuggets in previous seasons. It's true that he still averages over a block a game, but that's half of what he did two years ago, and chances are it is only going to decline further as he gets older.
He's also not much of a threat offensively, nor is he going to go out and gather up a ton of rebounds. Anderson is still an imposing figure, but at this point it is more because of his hair than because of his play.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves: Wayne Ellington
Wayne Ellington still has yet to live up to his potential in the NBA, but playing for the Wolves is probably not going to help him do that anytime soon.
He shoots a good percentage from three but that is his primary offensive weapon, and he doesn't do a whole lot for his team other than that. His inconsistency is one of his biggest issues, as it is with most young players in his situation.
The truth is that when you can't put up numbers on a bad team, you probably wouldn't put up numbers for a good team either, which is the problem that is confronting Wayne Ellington at this point. But in a different system he might do better.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Daequan Cook
I went with Cook here over Thabo Sefolosha, perhaps unfairly, because I value what Sefolosha brings to the table over what Cook brings, even though neither player is as well-rounded as I would like.
Sefolosha brings tough perimeter defense, and that is a needed commodity on any team that has aspirations of contending for an NBA title.
Cook brings three point shooting which, as we saw in the most recent NBA finals, can also be a huge component of a winning formula for a team that is able to get hot and stay hot from three point range.
The problem is that shooters can be streaky, and with Cook that is exactly the case. He can very easily go three-of-three from three point range in one game, then go zero-for-three the next.
He's a confident shooter, but the Thunder already have other confident shooters who can fill that void.
Sefolosha brings his defense every night. Even though he is not much of a threat offensively, it more than balances out if he is able to do his part in keeping an opposing star player for taking over the game.
29. Portland Trail Blazers: Patty Mills
This one hurts a little bit, but with the depth the Blazers have, I had to go with someone who has still made valuable contributions to the team. Patty Mills has been good, albeit inconsistent, for the Blazers.
Mills is a scrappy player who is capable of scoring in bunches. His three point shot is his best weapon, though he is also capable of getting into the lane fairly easily.
His biggest weaknesses stem from being able to make good decisions consistently while running the team as an NBA point guard. Because of this, he barely played at all once the Blazers shortened their rotation in the playoffs last season.
Mills has not been the answer that Portland has been looking for at the backup point guard position, so they continue to search elsewhere while giving Patty probably one more season to prove that the job is his.
30. Utah Jazz: Raja Bell
Raja Bell has been a top tier defender in the NBA for many years, but at age 34, he is really starting to slip in that area.
He started for the majority of last season for Utah at the shooting guard position, and averaged about eight points in just over 30 minutes a game.
With Utah in rebuilding mode now, it may be difficult for Bell to find the motivation to give 100 percent every day when his team probably won't be in the playoff hunt for very long next season. That, plus the every-present danger of nagging injuries, mean that maybe it's time for Bell to be moved elsewhere.